About six minutes after we got married, Billy was in a car accident. Someone rear-ended him on the freeway. He was fine, and he made sure the other driver was okay. Then, since he was undocumented, he left before the police arrived.
Unfortunately for us, the car was totaled. The accident hadn't been Billy's fault, but our status left us little options to pursue restitution. Then, because it was LA, we were up a creek without a car. And we both pretty much needed a car.
Now, decision making is not my forte. I am hopelessly dramatic. I need lots of outside input. I need swaths of time to contemplate. All in all, my method for decision-making is pretty practical and fun for all involved.
Billy... not so much. He makes a decision in three minutes flat and never looks back. As you can imagine, buying a car in our second month of marriage was basically a dream date.
I'm not joking when I say I wouldn't wish this on any newlywed couple. At least for us, it was so unbelievably challenging. We were still working out how to share money and that was.... happening. We were still figuring out how to communicate and disagree. It is almost comical in my memory because we were both trying so hard to be "nice," but we were coming at this from very different directions.
In fact, I recently posted this graphic of cultural differences on my Facebook page, and the mention of "approaches to decision-making" took me right back to the car dealership.
I recognize that some of our decision making strategies are probably more personality than culture, but we did have an interesting conversation about "researching." Researching gets a reputation as being kind of a "white person" thing to do.
We get pregnant, we buy books. We want to change careers, we take aptitude tests. We get sick, we start Googling without supervision. Of course, these are broad strokes and don't apply to every white person in every situation, but there does tend to be an appreciation for some pro/con lists in my background.
We were chatting (read: dramatically retelling this experience) with our Guatemalan pastor during a small group for newlyweds. I will never forget him laughing and telling Billy that yes, in the States we do a lot of research. "But you'll start to like it," he said. "In a few years, you'll be like 'Que bonito Consumer Reports!'"
I'm sad to say that the car we bought that day on the second month of our marriage has passed away. We are now in the process of car buying all over again. I'm finding myself very sentimental over that crazy car that I thought was a terrible decision at the time. Since it lasted us over seven years, I'll have to take the loss on that one.
I've asked Billy if we can just hang onto it and leave it parked in the driveway or side yard. That got me a big, fat "no." Ha!
It's fascinating to me, though, how car buying opens up a little window into how much our marriage has grown and changed. Billy simply knows we're not going to decide to buy a car, head to a dealership, and come home with one. He has agreed to sharing a Google doc spreadsheet.
And I have learned I need to be more focused and incredibly grateful for the time and energy he's putting into the process. And at some point, I have to pull the trigger.
We have both admitted that buying cars is something we both really hate. And if we're honest, it's probably something we like even less since we do it together.
It's not even a lie to say during this decision process, we have both at some point said, "Let's just leave the country." After all, we love public transportation, and Buenos Aires makes a car completely unnecessary.
We'd love to live without a car. That's a decision we can both agree on!
How do you make decisions? Do you do a lot of research? Do you and your spouse approach decisions similarly?