Negotiating Your Way to a Better Marriage

Better marriage, better health or one can say,Happy Marriage leads to Better Health.Study shows that happily married couples are less likely to get pneumonia, develop cancer or any heart disease or have heart attacks, and suffer from dementia.

But, marriage can be a big challenge. The union of two people with their own distinct personalities and world views can mean the potential for disagreement is huge. If selfishness crops up, or if finger-pointing begins, resentment and emotional turmoil can result.

Negotiating expectations in marriage

Some couples have mastered the art of negotiating with their spouse to handle marriage expertly through trial and error. Some can even make this approach work⁠.

Negotiating with your spouse is an art

Marital differences can be better managed with negotiation strategies. It may sound surprising at first, but a negotiation seminar can be a useful way to get couples to resolve their differences. Such workshops can help them achieve win-win outcomes for a better marriage than others.

Can married couples negotiate their way to marital bliss?

What is the right way to negotiate with your partner?

Treat negotiation as a continuous process.

Example –

In a 2009 interview with The New York Times, the Obamas revealed that their marriage is a series of negotiations.

The former president and first lady revealed that, over the years of their marriage, they have had to walk a tight balance. The couple admits a lot of give-and-take is involved. They cite supporting each other as a key factor in achieving their professional and familial ambitions.

Many couples make the mistake of seeing marital negotiations as a one-time event.

In family-based negotiation seminars, experts emphasize that most issues couples negotiate on will likely be linked together.

Example –

When you negotiate on which apartment to live in, the outcome may affect other factors.

These could be which couch you should buy or how many cars you can have. You might even find yourselves later negotiating which jobs to take, based on the apartment choice. One consideration is how the apartment you choose might affect your commute times.

The higher the stakes and the more complex the situation, the more a couple’s individual core values are involved.

Every solution can set off a series of new complications.

It’s wise to accept that there will rarely be a perfect solution for most problems, in order to build up a complete and better marriage. The best thing a couple can do is to work together to seek mutually beneficial solutions continually.

Negotiating expectations in marriage

Recognize that some things are non-negotiable.

In marriages, there are usually a lot of expectations between couples. Both partners often feel their other half should be making some sacrifices to ensure the couple’s happiness.

Also, read – Unrealistic expectations in relationships

While compromise can be sought in different scenarios, there are some core values marital partners may not be willing to negotiate on. These include –

  1. Integrity
  2. Emotions
  3. Spiritual practices
  4. Core values
  5. Trust

Negotiation seminar experts advise that the negotiable parts of marriage normally relate to decisions and behaviors.

Example –

It’s acceptable to ask your spouse to avoid spending too much time at their place of worship at the expense of other commitments. However, it’s not acceptable to ask your spouse to drop their religious belief altogether.

But, building up a better marriage is not easy. You have to learn how to negotiate your way to a better relationship.

Also, read – Expectations Vs Reality

How to negotiate with your spouse so you both win

How to negotiate with your spouse so you both win

There are three ways by which you can negotiate with your partner to have a win-win situation and work together towards a better marriage.

1. Strive for joint agreements

When marital partners brainstorm solutions, some options may only be appealing for one partner. To keep both partners happy, try to first adopt solutions that are acceptable to both partners.

Finding mutually beneficial solutions is usually a better option than trying to concede on sacrifices too soon.

Some marriages end up with one partner being more dominant than the other. When these partners brainstorm ideas together, the dominant partner usually makes the final decision. The submissive partner may just go along with things.

True joint agreements happen when both partners feel their needs are being met and both approve of the solution. 

Marriage seminar leaders advise the dominant partner to be mindful of their position. The less-dominant partner may seem happy to concede. 

However, continuous submission can breed resentment.

Also, read – Is sharing the same expectations in marriage important?

It’s important to keep the channels of communication open. Being honest reduces the room for misunderstandings and agreements made under false pretenses.

Where there are lingering disagreements, hold off on taking action. To have a better marriage, holding off action gives time for both partners to consider the pros and cons.

Taking a step back can allow room for new alternatives and new perspectives.

2. Reciprocity is more important than compromise

Marriage, like most social unions, is a give-and-take partnership. If one partner is making all the major compromises, the relationship can end in resentment.

It’s healthy for a couple to make sacrifices for each other.

Sacrifices that go both ways make for healthier relationships.

Reciprocity breeds a feeling of being appreciated and equal partnership. Your partner may view their sacrifices as worthwhile if you’re also making equal sacrifices.

This is how you can build a better marriage.

3. Make safe ultimatums

Occasionally, negotiations can reach an impasse and delay solutions.

In this situation, marriage seminars encourage using clever compromises to move talks along. One way of solving impasses is by playing “the ultimatum game.”

In the ultimatum game, one partner is selected to choose the reward. The other partner can then choose how the reward is distributed.

Having a safe ultimatum can quickly resolve issues while considering both partners’ feelings.

The ultimatum game respects both partners’ needs and gives each partner a say in decision-making.

Example – Remodeling the kitchen or planning a vacation

One partner could choose the style while the other picks the appliances. For vacation plans, one partner could choose the destination while the other picks the activities.

It’s important to switch around who is selecting and who is distributing the reward at each turn to find your way to a better marriage.

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