(This was originally posted in July 2012)
My wife and I have made a decision, we’re going to start the process of making her a Canadian citizen. We’re still working out the details and things could change, but we’re pretty much set on this plan.
The interesting thing about making this decision was the series of family discussion we had before coming to our decision.
Too Many Choices Causing Stress
My wife and I knew we’d likely go to Canada sometime in the future. I was thinking it would be when our daughter was ready to enter school. My wife’s father who is a big influence on her life wanted it to be last year. And my wife was switching between wanting to leave instantly or staying in China for the rest of her life.
My wife is a wonderful person who has a problem. Most of her life has been planned out either by her parents, her school, or later by her, and it logically went from step one to step two. With this move to Canada there are too many choices, and too many other people trying to push their own ideas. Her friends and colleagues kept asking when she’d emigrate, people online would say Canada is wonderful, and others would say stay in China. Her current job is boring, yet very secure. And I was pushing for a vacation in Canada every year which is expensive, although I was nice about not pushing too hard.
The stress from all of these choices and no clear choice was stressing her out. It was also causing me stress because I was constantly being asked to get all kinds of info and trying to confirm internet rumours about new immigration laws. Not a happy situation.
Solving Problems With a Family Discussion
Last week my wife ordered a family discussion. She’d heard me mention having planning meetings before to make decisions, but now she took the initiative and ordered her father and I to plan a three way discussion that night
We spent an hour talking about all of our options, how to proceed, and what information we NEEDED to get. After an hour of talking, with my wife acting as translator for her father and I, I called an end to the discussion because we had talked through all the things we knew about, and we were all tired.
We’re going to have another family discussion later this week to confirm some things, but after the big discussion and a few minor ones, our choices are pretty clear.
Planning a Family Discussion
With a family discussion, or a couples talk if you’re dating, you should have a clear idea of what is to be discussed and have a willingness to talk. The issue should also be fairly important, don’t have a family discussion over what restaurant to go to, or minor problems such as who has to wash dishes that night. It should be about something that is causing a serious amount of stress and there are no clear options.
So if you want to change your job, but your partner isn’t sure it’s a good idea, have a family discussion. If your child is doing poorly in school have a family talk with your spouse and possibly your child. If it’s about moving in with your boyfriend and you’re not sure this is a good time for a couples discussion.
Let your spouse and anyone else involved know that you want a discussion in a few hours or sometime in the next few days. Sitting someone down and saying “we need to talk right now”, can make a person defensive, unbalanced and unwilling or unable to really participate in the discussion.
What Not to Do in a Discussion
When you are dealing with a high stress topic, don’t let yourself get angry. If you start to get upset call a short break, change the focus of the talk to another part of the problem, or ask for it to end and set up another meeting for later that week. Yelling, crying or fighting is counterproductive to a family talk.
Don’t keep bringing up the problem in your daily life. Ask a few questions, get some quick confirmations on details, and bring up some new facts for the next family discussion, but don’t keep worrying away at the problem like a sore tooth. If you keep talking about the problem at all hours of the day, or night if it’s causing you insomnia, you’ll simply keep adding to the stress. It’s not good.
Also don’t let your partner make all the decisions. It’s suppose to be a discussion, not a talking to. My wife, father in law and myself each raised concerns, problems and solutions. By doing this and listening to each other we reached a compromise, and everyone is satisfied with the outcome.
So when you have a problem or a big decision to make in your relationship, plan a family discussion or a couples talk. See what your partner has to say about the topic, the choice could be easier than you thought if you will both listen and discuss things.