How To Make Tough Decisions When Caring For Your Partner

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If you are caring for your partner you are constantly making decisions. You are faced with everything from deciding what to tell friends and family members, choosing doctors or treatments, or figuring out how to support your partner during treatment. It can be exhausting! You want to make the best choice, but how do you know what that is? 

When my husband was first diagnosed with cancer, we were faced with many decisions. We felt scared and overwhelmed. How could we know the right choice to make and what if we made a mistake?

Then we learned some key secrets to making decisions that made all the difference. Read on to learn how to make tough decisions when caring for your partner. 

Why Decision Making is Important When Caring for Your Partner 

You are making decisions constantly, from what to eat in the morning to how to spend your time. 

Many of the choices you make are out of habit or conditioning. Other times, you may make decisions that are motivated by stress, fear, pressure, or obligation. And yet sometimes, you may not do anything, stay stuck in indecision, without realizing that is also a choice.

You may be making decisions, but you’re not always making them deliberately, with conscious thought and a desired effect in mind. 

That is OK sometimes, but other times there are decisions that you WANT to be very conscious and deliberate about.

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The decisions you make shape your life. If you are acting out of habit, you’re going to live a life on repeat. If you are deciding out of fear or obligation, decision making is stressful and not effective. If you are stuck in indecision, it will cost you time, energy, and brain power. It will keep you stuck and stressed out. 

When you learn some simple steps and tips about making decisions, it will open up the key to saving time, mental energy, and living the life you WANT despite the circumstances! 

6 Steps For How To Make Tough Decisions When Caring For Your Partner

#1: Get In The Right Mindset

When making tough decisions when caring for your partner, it can be easy to let negative emotions fuel those decisions. If you are feeling scared, worried, stressed, or simply tired, this is not the time to make an important decision! When you are under stress, it is difficult to think clearly and rationally, which is what you want when making decisions. You want to be in a calm emotional place. 

But how do I feel calm when I have such a big important decision to make? 

Good question! I’ll talk more about this in step 3, but first start with getting a good night’s rest. Never make any important decisions when you are tired! EVER! Then, take an experimental approach. Often we feel like every decision is final, but really, we always have the option to make another decision. So take some pressure off yourself and think like a scientist.

#2: Identify Your Options

Are you approaching a decision as deciding between one choice or another? This is binary thinking and it can limit you when you’re making an important decision. In reality, there are many other options available to you if you simply sit down and think of them. Brainstorm a big list of all your options. Even with treatment decisions, there can be options. Be creative here and think outside the box.

Remember that deciding to do nothing can also be an option. You want to include options that you think you would never take. Why do this? It’s important for your brain to recognize that you have choices. Challenge yourself to come up with at least 5 options. Then, narrow them down to the 3 best ones.  

#3: Know That There Are No Wrong Decisions

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If you want to learn how to make tough decisions when caring for your partner, then this step is key!

Did you know that there is no such thing as a good or bad/right or wrong decision (read No Wrong Decisions)? Society teaches us otherwise – as if the goal in life were just to make all the “right choices.” This viewpoint does not serve us because anyone who has experienced failure knows it’s how you learn and grow the most!

Right or wrong is only a judgment you make after the fact. When something doesn’t turn out as you expect or wanted, it doesn’t mean it was wrong, it just means it went differently than you thought. Thinking there is a right or wrong choice is simply not useful. Instead realize that there are only choices and outcomes.

To make strong decisions you want to be able to recognize and strip out your judgements about your choices or the outcomes. Then you can learn from your decisions instead of beating yourself up for them!

#4: Identify Your Result

What result are you trying to achieve? You need to know the destination before deciding which course to take. So get real clear and specific on what you want. Think about what you value most in this situation to help guide you. This can be particularly helpful when thinking about treatment options with your partner. You and your partner should think about what you want and what you are willing to forgo. Get specific! 

#5: Decide

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When making tough decisions when caring for your partner, this is the most important step! However, if you have done the previous steps this will be a lot easier. Limit your choices to the 3 best ones and remember there is no “right” or “wrong” choice.

You don’t have to maximize every decision. Think good enough or good for now. You can always make another decision! I also recommend you get perspective. Imagine how you will feel about this decision in 10 days. What about in 10 months? How about in 10 years? Thinking this way can give you the perspective you need because it helps you keep the bigger picture in mind.

#6: Commit

Secondguessing and changing your mind wastes time. When you commit you move forward and get new information. If you notice a little doubt coming up after you have made a decision, don’t worry about it! It’s totally normal for your brain to go there. You don’t have to eliminate doubt, you can commit in spite of doubt (just let it be there).  When you commit to a decision, you focus your brain on making it work, versus finding evidence for why it was a “bad” decision. 

Finally, have your own back so you don’t judge yourself later. This is super important when making treatment decisions or care decisions. You can’t know what is going to happen, all you can do is make a choice from a clean emotional place (not from fear or scarcity) with the information you have.

Learning how to make decisive decisions is the key to living the life you want, and especially important when caring for your partner. This skill puts YOU in control, despite the circumstances you face. 


Want help making a difficult decision? Click here to schedule a free coaching session and I’ll help you work though what ever decision you are facing.

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