While traveling Paris together via the Metro subway system, we covered a lot of unfamiliar territory—with relatively few mistakes. Even when we did board a train going the wrong way, it was easily corrected and only cost us a few minutes.
It hit me one morning why it was such a good experience for us. I posted the picture above with the caption: I navigate. She translates. This was literally the case while traveling a foreign city.
Gail tends to be a bit geographically-impaired. I tend to have a good sense of direction and when armed with some good tools—Google Maps in Paris—I could easy navigate the route to our desired destination. But Gail understood the French language and was able to translate important signs along the way.
In a similar way, I could get us to a restaurant we’d chosen, but I didn’t want her to leave my side when ordering or paying the bill.
I navigate. She translates.
That applies to more than subways and restaurants in a foreign city. It just about wraps up most of our life together.
Big Picture. Subtle Signposts.
In our married life, I’ve generally been the one who has discerned where we need to be and how we get there. I’m talking more than just geographically. More of setting the vision for our family, career choices, etc.
Gail has always appreciated that and has been a trusting partner. But don’t think she’s on the sideline. Although I may handle the big picture planning and navigating, she has saved us a lot of headache and heartache along the way by decoding things I’d miss.
She would have a better read on our family’s readiness for change which may affect timing on an important decision. She might discern something in a prospective hire that completely went under my radar and needed closer consideration. She would often have a better sense of priorities which impacted our decisions on how we spent our money.
Trusting Your Spouse’s Input
It’s for reasons like these that I’ve learned to yield to her translation along the way. Sometimes it isn’t what I want to hear. I’m focused on the big picture and have my course charted. But the track record of her translation of key signposts along the way make me pause and take her input with serious consideration.
And I think she would say the same. She trusts my leadership and strategic skills. She really doesn’t want the responsibility of charting the course. There are times when a big picture perspective may override other information. And once she feels I’ve taken her seriously, she’s good with my decision.
It’s worked well for us when we’ve appreciated the other’s input and differed to each other when in our zone. And if we do misstep at times, the consequences are generally no big deal if we’ve learned to work together.
Two really are better than one.
Question: How do you and your spouse make sure you take advantage of each other's strengths? Share your answer in the comments below.