How to Negotiate with Your Spouse so You Both Win
- Tuesday, August 06, 2013
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Willard F. Harley Jr.'s upcoming book, He Wins, She Wins: Learning the Art of Marital Negotiation (Revell Books, 2013).
Conflict is inevitable in every marriage. So you and your spouse are bound to disagree about some of the many issues you all face in your life together. But disagreeing doesn’t have to mean fighting.
All too often, couples fight about their conflicts, and their marriages suffer as a result. There’s a better way: negotiating with each other for solutions that benefit both of you. When you and your spouse approach conflicts this way, you can both win by sustaining your love for each other rather than damaging it.
Here’s how you can negotiate with your spouse so you both win:
Keep romantic love in mind. Do your best to try to preserve the romantic love between you that is a gift from God. Making demands of each other or trying to force each other to do something destroys romantic love, while working together to try to find mutually beneficial solutions strengthens romantic love. When making decisions, protect the love between you by working together in ways that build trust and meet each other’s basic emotional needs.
Develop a win-win strategy. Avoid making unilateral decisions in your marriage, because doing so forces one partner to lose while the other one wins, and that doesn’t reflect the love for each other that God wants you both to put into action. Keep in mind that you and your spouse need each other’s perspectives on the issues you encounter, since they complement each other to create a more complete understanding of those issues. Choose to value your spouse’s point of view and what you can learn from it. View each other as equals working on the same team for each other’s benefit. Work together to try to reach a common goal that will lead to a win-win outcome.
Follow the Policy of Joint Agreement. This policy states: “Never do anything without an enthusiastic agreement between you and your spouse.” If you and your spouse both commit to following this policy, you can solve any problem that comes up between you by negotiating until you reach a solution about which you both can feel good. The Policy of Joint Agreement helps you each keep growing in your understanding of each other because it forces you to regularly ask: “How do you feel about what I would like to do (or what I would like you to do for me)?”
Follow the principles of successful negotiation. These principles include: setting ground rules to make negotiation pleasant and safe; trying to be pleasant and cheerful throughout your discussion; avoiding demands, disrespect, or anger while negotiating; taking a break if you reach an impasse or one of you is using demands, disrespect, or anger; identify the conflict you’re discussing from both perspectives until you both understand each other’s points of view; creatively brainstorming potential solutions to the problem; and choosing the best solution about which both of you feel enthusiastic.
Resolve conflicts over friends and relatives. Discuss all invitations from friends and family members with your spouse before responding to them; teach your friends and relatives to wait for a response until you can reach a joint agreement with your spouse about each invitation. Set boundaries with everyone outside your marriage to make it clear that your spouse’s interests are a higher priority than anyone else’s interests whenever a conflict of interests occurs. Don’t let anyone pressure you to make decisions about which your spouse doesn’t enthusiastically agree.
Recently on Relationships
Have something to say about this article? Leave your comment via Facebook below!
Listen to Your Favorite Pastors
Add Crosswalk.com content to your siteBrowse available content