Negotiation In MarriageAs a couples therapist I routinely see couples struggling with decisions which make nobody happy! Natalie wants one thing, Ned wants something else, (or so it seems). They then either slug it out emotionally until one person gets their way, or they “take their marbles and go home” – withdrawing into their respective corners with animosity because they couldn’t come to some kind of reasonable agreement. Marriage and partnerships are all about negotiation, whether it’s when and where we go on vacation, or how and when we tackle home projects, or which school to send the kids to. The worst thing couples do is to come up with “win-lose” or “either-or” solutions. In negotiation language we call that a dismal failure. The aim instead is to move toward “both-and” or “win-win”solutions, where each partner may give something up, but also gets something important to them. So if Ned wants to spend time in the Fall working on home projects, and Natalie wants a trip, the goal is to see how either they can do both reasonably, or take turns getting their way. The most critical thing is to craft solutions which address key parts of each of their concerns, not polarize around differences. How good a negotiator are you in your partnership? Have a mutually good end of summer, Susan Lager
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