How to Negotiate When No One Wants to Raise the Issue in Marriage
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When it comes to marriage, conflict is inevitable. The longer you are together, the more likely you will have disagreements.
Making sure those simple disagreements don’t become giant arguments is where marriage negotiations come into play.
Thankfully, marriage conflict can lead to relationship growth. Once you construct a negotiated marriage, you’ll stop thinking about conflict as something to be afraid of or avoid altogether.
If you tend to avoid conflict, the thought of raising an issue in your relationship can seem daunting – especially if you and your partner are a little rusty regarding your communication skills.
As awkward as it may be, talking about your marriage expectations can open the door to a happier, healthier relationship.
Keep reading to learn how to create a negotiated marriage that satisfies your and your partner’s needs.
What are some things about marriage that you should know about? Watch this video for more.
What does negotiation mean in marriage?
A negotiated marriage might sound strange at first. What does it mean? Are you negotiating the terms of your marriage as if it’s some formal contact?
Negotiating is all about discussing the terms of an arrangement. In this case, the agreement to make each other happy is up for discussion.
When you negotiate issues with your spouse, it encourages you to practice healthy communication skills. Negotiations also help you learn how to compromise in a marriage.
How do you negotiate conflict in a marriage?
Negotiation may sound formal, but it’s a good thing. Negotiating means you and your spouse are working as a team to find a solution that makes both of you happy.
How do you negotiate conflict in a marriage? Here are some simple tips for handling your marriage conflicts with care.
1. Make the solution appealing to both sides
The goal of compromise in a marriage is for both partners to leave the conversation feeling satisfied. The easiest way to get your partner to compromise in marriage is to make the solution appealing to them.
To establish a win-win solution, you need to understand your partner’s concerns, desires, and values – and they need to understand yours.
2. Don’t be afraid to anchor
One tip for helping your partner see the benefit of your choices is to anchor. This means placing your needs next to fictitious (and much worse) needs.
For example, say you’re selling a dresser online.
You would like $250 for the dresser, but you list the dresser for $300.
Someone offers you $200, and you write back saying you will “let the dresser go” for $250.
The deal goes through, and both parties feel like they’ve benefitted. You got exactly the price you wanted for your dresser, and the buyer believes they scored a terrific deal because you were willing to lower your price.
In a negotiated marriage, anchoring can help you and your spouse feels you’ve got exactly what you wanted.
3. Learn the value of listening
Studies show that couples are happier when they communicate. Communication breeds positivity, which makes handling conflict much easier.
One of the biggest tips for healthy communication has nothing to do with speaking and everything to do with listening.
When you listen to your spouse, you validate their emotions. Listening without interruption can be hard to do, especially if you feel your partner has it all wrong – but when you practice mildness and give your partner your full attention, you show them you respect what they are saying.
Listening demonstrates attentiveness and shows your spouse that you care. It’s setting your needs aside to hear your spouse’s words.
When you listen calmly, your partner is more likely to show you the same respect. This will make problem-solving much easier.
Related Reading: The Importance of Art of Listening in a Relationship
How to negotiate when no one wants to raise the issue in marriage
Research suggests that for a negotiated marriage to be successful, couples should communicate calmly and early to prevent damaging confrontations.
However, early marriage negotiations sometimes work differently – especially if neither partner wants to make the first move.
Here are some tips for compromise when neither partner wants to start a conflict.
1. Write a letter
If you are not big on confrontation, bringing up a potentially sore subject with your spouse probably sounds like your actual nightmare.
Instead of finding an appropriate time to coax your partner into an awkward conversation (or argument), try writing them a letter.
Writing out your thoughts will help you to be concise when sharing your concerns with your partner. This will ensure you avoid unnecessary drama and focus on the issue.
2. Do NOT text
Writing an issue out in a letter is classy.
Writing an issue out in a text message is looking for trouble.
Where there is warmth and care in a hand-written letter, a text message can often come across as cold and unfeeling. Without hearing your voice or seeing the care that a letter holds, the recipient of a text message can attribute whatever tone they want to your message.
A message you thought was calm and considerate they may read as angry.
Skip the headache of a text message and make your marriage compromises in person.
3. Learn how to communicate effectively
Just how important is communication? Very.
In a study of 886 divorcing couples, 53% cited a lack of communication as a major cause of their relationship ending.
Compromise in marriage is not always easy. It takes a willingness to communicate and to listen.
The recipe for good communication is as follows:
- Learning about each other’s marriage expectations
- Caring for how your partner thinks and feels
- Listening to what your spouse has to say
- Sticking with the facts
- Using “I feel” sentences
- Being honest and sincere
- Showing respect
- Compromise marriage talks – speaking to solve a problem, not to argue about it.
Learning how to talk to your partner won’t necessarily remove the awkwardness you feel about bringing up uncomfortable topics. Still, it will ensure you both feel safe and supported when you do.
Related Reading: 5 Steps to Effective Communication With Your Spouse
The negotiation tactic all married couples should use
When you compromise marriage, it doesn’t mean you compromise who you are.
Marriage compromise doesn’t make you weak. It’s just the opposite. Learning how to cooperate with someone takes strength and sacrifice.
Here are some negotiation tactics that will make a negotiated marriage easier.
- Be clear about what you want. Compromise in marriage only works if both partners understand what they’re working toward. Now is the time to be clear about your needs.
- Play like a team. The sooner you see your spouse as your partner in problem-solving, the easier it will be to build a negotiated marriage.
- Collaborate. Why is compromise important in a relationship? It allows couples to work together toward a common interest.
- Have a code word. Having a code word for a relationship talk will give your partner time to prepare for negotiations mentally.
- See things from both sides. One of the best ways to negotiate fairly is to see things from your partner’s point of view. When you understand why they feel the way they do about the issue, it will be easier to come together as a unit.
- Be proactive. After talking with your spouse, ensure you both work toward reaching each other’s marriage expectations. This way, you won’t have the same unmet negotiations a few months from now.
Once you learn these marriage compromise negotiation tactics, you and your spouse will be pros at communicating.
Marriage compromise takes time. You and your partner must learn how to read each other’s signals and find a form of communication that works best for you.
Here are some common questions to consider when building a negotiated marriage.
How do you negotiate a marriage proposal?
Before proposing to a partner, you should have some important conversations first. Begin by…
1. Talking about your expectations in marriage
Before you tie the knot, have a serious conversation about how you see your life together.
Talk about where you see yourselves in five years, whether you want children, how you feel about having pets, and your career goals – talk about everything together and see if your dreams and desires align.
Mismanaged marriage expectations can lead to heartache. Speaking openly and honestly about your marriage expectations will help you and your spouse have a realistic idea of your life.
2. Consider a pre-marriage counseling course
Pre-marriage counseling or online premarital courses can be a lifesaver when discussing marriage compromise.
A pre-marriage counseling course, like the one offered here, can empower couples to plan their future, develop communication skills, and learn the fundamentals of marriage.
3. Be open about prenuptial agreements
Sometimes negotiation relationships begin, not in the marriage but with your lawyers. A prenuptial agreement is a written contract where both partners decide what will happen to their assets (finances, children, the marital home) if the marriage ends in divorce.
This can be a touchy subject for many couples, so it’s important to learn the best ways to negotiate the contract so that both partners feel satisfied.
What should you not say when negotiating?
Words carry weight, and the words you choose to approach a marital issue can make or break your conversation.
Sometimes the best ways to negotiate are by learning what language NOT to use.
1. Don’t attack your spouse
It’s easy to get worked up when discussing an emotional topic, but remember that your spouse is your partner, not your enemy.
Don’t use a moment of frustration to bring up hurtful past experiences or target insecurities.
2. Don’t negotiate when you’re in a bad mood
Conflict, no matter how small, can be uncomfortable. To make your conversation as easy as possible, try approaching the topic when you and your spouse are calm and happy.
Marriage compromise is important to a healthy relationship, and the worse your mood, the less likely you will want to meet your spouse halfway.
3. Don’t make demands
When it comes to a negotiated marriage, mutual agreement is key.
You don’t want to make demands of your spouse or start using phrases like “You never…!” or “You are so difficult because…!”
Making demands will put your spouse on edge and make them feel defensive. They will only want to cooperate with you if they feel forced.
4. Don’t be disrespectful
You love your spouse. The issue between you is frustrating, but remember you are only frustrated because you love them so much and want the best relationship possible.
With your love in mind, avoid using disrespectful language and phrases, even if your partner is not showing the same restraint.
Having a cool head will help you successfully create a negotiated marriage.
5. Know when to take a break
Marriage negotiations work best when both partners are calm and ready to tackle the issue as a team.
If you are losing your tempers, it’s okay to table the conversation until you feel better equipped to make a calm, cooperative decision together.
It’s important to compromise in a marriage. Not only does it boost your communication skills, but it makes partners feel validated and heard.
If you are nervous about creating conflict, try bringing the issue up in a letter. When you speak in person, choose a time to talk when you and your spouse are relaxed and agreeable.
Remember that you are a team, so try and see things from your partner’s point of view and tackle the issue together.
If you still have difficulty compromising in marriage, try marriage counseling.
Couples therapy can help partners identify underlying conflicts and improve their marriage. Read “Advice and Tips for Couples Counseling” to learn more about how therapy can benefit your relationship.
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