How to save your marriage

How to save your marriage?

Divorcing is a very serious step to take in life.  It’s far greater than taking the step to marry.  This should not come as a surprise.  Divorcing is not just unwinding a marriage.  It’s a process loaded with bitterness, negativity and pain.  Compounding all of these feelings is the fact that you are taking an enormous step down from your standard of living.  Divorcing must only be considered an option when all else has failed.  If you haven’t received counseling for yourself or as a couple, then don’t jump to divorce.  The only exception is when there is a real risk of harm and violence.  In that case, take immediate steps to protect yourself and your children.  Marriage counseling is a critical chance for the two of you to have someone independent help you.

The usually issues are communication, power or money.  If these three are balanced, then I believe the marriage will be healthy in the bedroom as well.  Intimacy issues, I believe, are symptoms of power imbalances.  If you’re the one not being heard, not having input and not making spending decisions, then you’re the one wanting a divorce, or wanting to go to marriage counseling.  At the end of the day, it’s about negotiating fairness.  Building a model of fairness around communication, decision making and money matters takes cooperation.  If one person is comfortable with the status quo and the other is miserable, then you need to re-negotiate.  Negotiating is not about shouting and tears.  Too often, this is what happens.  Shouting and tears might get the other sides attention, but it won’t likely result in effective re-negotiating.  If you are feeling emotional, you need to go through that phase and clear your mind before you can begin formulating a negotiation plan.

Assuming you’ve passed through the emotional phase and you’ve got their attention, you need to start negotiating effectively.  This means spending time yourself figuring out what it is you want.  My bet is it’s always fairness that is lacking, or some kind of marital harmony.  Some people call it “balance” or “equality”, and others will refer to it as “respect”.  To me it’s all fairness.  Write down what fairness means to you.  What does it feel like?  Use a scenario and view it as a scene in a movie.  Write a script.  Now that you have it down on paper and more clear in your mind you’re now ready to negotiate.  This means identify the issue for your better half.  But do it diplomatically.

The key is diplomacy, which means inviting the other side to a discussion.  Say privately, “When should we sit down to discuss pre-paying our mortgage?”  Don’t blurt out in front of company, “Anil thinks we shouldn’t pre-pay our mortgage”.  Do say, “Can we sit down this month and review our mortgage options?”  Avoid saying, “You’re not sharing information about our mortgage!”  Effective negotiation is a diplomatic technique.  It is not about demands or ultimatums.  It’s ultimately a communication tool designed to create a positive outcome for both sides.

Be considerate and not rude.  Be persistent and not pushy.  Your tone and body language must be diplomatic as well.  You still haven’t started negotiating.  So far you’ve identified your issue and made a diplomatic invitation to discuss it.  Next, study the other side.  What are their strengths and weaknesses as they pertain to the issue?  Using are mortgage renewal example, are they organized with paperwork?  Do they view themselves as well informed on finances?  Do they like to make their opinion on the matter first?  How much time will they want to devote to this issue?  What time of day is best to discuss the issue?  Should information be shared via email?  These types of strategic questions will give you a tactical advantage in the negotiation.  In addition to this, decide what outcome you are aiming for.  Do you want an open discussion with no decision having been made?  Do you want to simply be heard without interruption?  Do you want to feel respected?  Do you want to establish options to be considered at another time?  You have now listed a range of outcomes to your negotiation.

Now that you’ve done your homework, you can enter the negotiation peacefully and with an aim at success on your terms.  You’ve created an atmosphere of peace and cooperation.  You’re also demonstrating a balanced and considerate approach to communication.  Best of all, this will serve as a blueprint for the next issue you wish to deal with, or re-negotiate.  Now you can say to yourself that you tried to work on your marriage.

Blog Submission by Sehota Magic.

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