Are you a guy finding it difficult to make a decision about marriage? Are you feeling overwhelmed by the weight of this major life choice? One of the things we lack in a culture of unlimited choices is the ability to make good decisions that we can then confidently act on.
All this week I’ve been in training related to team problem solving with a group called Adizes. Early on, the trainer claimed that the Adizes process for decision making can be used in all kinds of settings — even for making a decision about marriage. So maybe this can be of help to you. Here’s the process:
Defreeze. This is a word that Dr. Adizes created to describe the important first step of relaxing and slowing down from any left-brain activities you’re involved in and shifting to the right-hand side of your brain where you can make a more creative decision. You don’t want to try to make a decision about marriage in the same frame of mind that you balance your checkbook. Take a hike or go on a retreat to shift gears.
Accumulate. Gather all the information related to your decision. In the case of marriage, capture on paper all the thoughts you have about the opportunity in front of you.
Deliberate. Look at all the thoughts you’ve captured and try to see what emerges. What patterns do you see? Dr. Mohler has said that a sovereign God puts us in specific places at specific times for a reason. Can you narrow down all your thoughts in order to see the possibility that God has ordained the intersection of your life with your potential spouse?
Incubate. This is where you take a break from the information you’ve accumulated and deliberated over. Dr. Adizes describes it as “consulting your pillow.” Sleep on it. Take another hike. This incubation period is good for the kind of “middle of the night insights” that lead to breakthroughs.
Illuminate. The incubation period can help you return to your deliberation with fresh perspectives and the ability to have an “a-ha” about the issues you’ve been mulling over. Now’s the time to see if you can make a good decision from what you’ve reflected on.
Accommodate. The next step is where you process your doubts and questions. It’s important to hold your insights up against realities. Older versions of the marriage vows talk about approaching matrimony soberly and advisedly — this is the step where that happens in earnest.
Finalize. This is one of the most important steps and the one many guys have trouble completing. It’s where you actually make a final decision. You bite the bullet. Dr. Adizes says that many beautiful men and women never marry because they have too many choices and they have trouble pushing through and making a good choice. After you’ve gone through all the steps, it’s time to make a decision one way or the other. You either decide that you have enough to go on to take the big step of getting engaged or you recognize this is not who God would have you to marry and you move on.
Reinforce. The final step is getting confirmation on the decision you’ve made and finding the support you need to implement it. While it works best to go through all of these decision making steps with a mentor, a pastor and/or your parents — this is a crucial time to bring your decision to all those key people in your community and to seek their blessing for the venture ahead of you.
I realize you can always find shortcomings when you try to apply business processes to matters of the heart, but I think there’s some value in praying about how you can use formal steps like these to break past the paralysis of analysis that is all too common for guys thinking about marriage — and to help you confidently move forward instead of languishing in an endless season of trying to decide.