How many times have you attended a wedding and during the toast someone mentioned what it takes to make a great marriage. We have heard everything from being a good listener to spending quality time together to responding with “Yes, dear!” While all of these things certainly are important, perhaps the secret to a happy marriage is learning the art of negotiating with your spouse. Most married couples have found themselves at some point comparing their chores and responsibilities to that of their spouse. We can almost hear ourselves saying “I have done the dishes every night this week. It’s your turn!” Inevitably, these kinds of conversations leave both parties feeling frustrated, underappreciated, and angry. Conflict is inevitable in any marriage and you and your spouse are bound to disagree on things. However, this doesn’t mean that conflict has to lead to fighting. There is a better solution. Learning how to negotiate with your spouse can help you deal with conflict in a way that is healthy and where you can both sustain your love for one another. Here’s how to negotiate with your spouse so that you both win!
Talk Through Conflicts and Concerns
It’s difficult for your spouse to change a bad habit if they don’t know it exists. Likewise, your spouse is not a mind reader so you might need to tell them how you are feeling. Make a habit of openly discussing issues. Keeping your thoughts and feelings pinned up will cause a great deal of frustration and you will eventually explode. Instead, talk lovingly with your spouse about issues as they arise. For example, “Honey, I know that you are tired when you get home from work but if you would put your shoes away it would be helpful for me.” This is much more productive than holding it in for a month and then yelling at your spouse for leaving his shoes out every day.
Pay Attention to Your Language and Tone
In the example above, the language was kind and courteous, “Honey, would you mind putting your shoes away.” Your spouse is much more likely to do what you want when you speak to them lovingly. A salesman would never walk into a negotiation and say “Listen, here. Either buy my product or get out of my office.” Not only would the client refuse to buy the product, but they would probably kick you out faster than you could imagine. The fact is, people don’t respond well to demands. When you are trying to negotiate with your spouse, your tone and choice of words will go a long way in creating a win-win solution. You will end up getting what you want and your spouse will feel loved and respected at the same time.
Listen, Listen, Listen!
There was a humorous story about a woman who was trying to talk to her husband about a constant ache in her head. She kept on and on about how bad her head hurt and how difficult it was dealing with the pain. The husband was quick to point at that there was a nail sticking out of her head. She was so frustrated and responded with, “You always do this! You try to fix things when all I want you to do is listen.” Finally, he gave up and let his wife talk about her pain and simply responded with, “That must be really hard.” She smiled with gratitude at his willingness to listen. The truth is it’s not about the nail. If spouses want to negotiate well with one another, they need to actively listen to the other’s needs. Once they fully understand what their spouses needs are they can negotiate win-win solutions.
Make it a Give and Take
Many marriages suffer because there is a lack of compromise. One spouse is demanding something and the other spouse isn’t willing to give in. We have all been in this position before. However, in any relationship compromise is important. We can’t get what we want all of the time. If your husband wants to play golf on Saturday but you really want him home to help with the kids, perhaps you could compromise by giving him the day to golf and you get a night to yourself one night during the week. Both spouses get the “me time” they desire and everyone is happy. In marriage, it’s all about compromise.