The first part was easy—John and I agreed we needed a new car. But which car? Again we agreed—this part was not going to be so easy! We have “different perspectives” on this subject, as I am always coaching my clients to say.

Given that, not only do you want a good decision, you want a good decision-making process. No leftover scars, no tendrils of resentment creeping into the future, please! 

I confess: It would be hard to find a more boring person to talk cars with than me.

So, I kind of feel sorry for any man who finds himself having to do that. Descriptions like “fun to drive,” “exciting performance,” or “impressive blend of style and technology” just don’t compute.

To me a car is transportation and a depreciating asset. My heart sings when I hear “5% off MSRP” or “holds its value” or “runs forever.” Like I said, BORING!

That said, things could be much harder. It’s not like my husband is a real car lover. He’s kind of done with shelling out hard-earned cash to maintain “exciting performance” cars. But he still cares more about the driving experience than I do. (Who doesn’t?)

So we pretty much covered the emotional waterfront over the last three weeks.

We went from super-frustrated with each other to ending up feeling like a great team. That’s the abbreviated version. What was it that helped us get there?

I’d like to say stellar communication skills, but honestly, I think it had a lot to do with time. There was no reason to rush it, so we didn’t. We changed cars, years and trims. Different concerns popped up for each of us on different days. We slept on it. And talked. And slept on it again. And talked more.

It’s especially easy for us to let a decision percolate this way these days, because our kid is off at college. And for a number of reasons, our calendar isn’t that full right now. We have quiet in the house and room in our minds. I’ve made a lot of decisions under pressure in the last few years but this wasn’t one of them. And it felt great!

It got me thinking that this is the time of year people are ramping up the pace of their lives.

A lot of times, it’s heroic they keep up with just their basic schedules. Then if you throw in something that requires a lot of attention (Purchase? Illness? Relationship problem?) the circuits overload.

The result may be an emotional fire instead of a good teamwork experience. “You’re not there for me!” When the problem may be just not enough energy to go around.

I notice more people talking about the problem of over-scheduling. Cutting back on an activity here. A social event there. 

A little breathing room can make a big difference when a surprise challenge arrives.

And let’s be honest, life’s surprises aren’t really surprises, are they? We know they’re going to come. We just don’t know exactly what they will be and when they will come. It doesn’t mean it’s easy to change. You still have to decide what to say, “No” to and you still have to swim against the current. And just the minimum family obligations, especially with school-aged kids, can be a full plate. But it’s something to think about.

As for us, we are now the happy owners of a 2016 VW Golf. John has a “fun-to-drive” car to zip around Seattle in, when we want to go to a show or check out a new craft brewery. (We might even be able to park it!) And I’m glad we got a good deal. Most of all, I’m glad we came out of it feeling like a solid team.