Mastering The Art of Negotiation-Part 1
Linda: We live in a time of great cynicism about marriage. Everyone knows a friend or family member who married with great enthusiasm and love, whose relationship turned sour, ultimately ending in a bitter divorce. A multitude of people are deciding that to prevent such a painful scenario, filled with grief and heartache, they won’t get married in the first place.
But it may not be the institution of marriage itself that is at fault here, but the cultural changes that are demanding more from us in order to create successful partnerships. Since the rigid guidelines and requirements of how marital partners must behave have been relaxed, each couple is on their own to design a form that works for them. It is a time of transition, a crazy-making time and one of vast creativity. While the old form has been forsaken, the new forms have not quite yet been established and solidified. It’s good that things are changing. We are all called upon to design the next ways of being in partnership that will be successful in bringing the deep satisfaction we are seeking. Here are some of the steps in the right direction:
- divorce carries way less stigma than it used to, allowing those who are miserable in their marriages to exit them.
- women have career options outside of the home, to follow their interests, make their own money and contribute their special talents and skills to their community. With decisions about where to live, and how much time and attention is devoted to work, hours of communication with a spirit of good will are required to arrive at choices that work for both partners career development.
- expanded and flexible gender role descriptions of who does household tasks and child-care. With the lack of rigid roles, there comes a requirement of a lot more discussion and strong negotiation skills to work out the issues around who takes responsibility for what tasks.
- no script is shoved into our hands by family or religious community about how to be a husband or wife. There is a vast opportunity available for each couple to co-create a partnership that fits their individual values, interests and beliefs. And yet, there is a higher demand for us to take responsibility, to grow up, when we are no longer provide a script and are challenged to write our own.
The expectation that the marriage be filled with love, happiness, well-being and personal growth certainly is a tall order, but not out of reach. When we each know ourselves well, and develop negotiation skills to lobby for have our needs met, we thrive. People marrying today come with these expectations and such ideas are all worthy goals for our life and our marriage.
To have lofty goals is a good thing. To reach this high and to be successful requires intention, commitment, and a high level of responsibility to work toward attaining them. When we work with our own shadow characteristics such as the impatient, irresponsible, immature part of ourselves (those aspects that we don’t like to believe we are), we are likely to discover that there is a part, perhaps a big part, that expects the other persons should bring success, happiness and love to us. It is only when we can shed that limiting belief about who will be causal that vast possibilities will open up.
So many people have a strong work ethic that is enhancing our career. Some of those same people have the mistaken notion that the strong work ethic does not apply when it comes to the realm of romantic partnership,. The Romantic myth operating is that the happiness and well-being should be present just because we love each other. In such thinking, there is not enough significance paid to the signature strengths that each of us must develop to be eligible for a great relationship. Nor does the romantic myth allow for the tremendous importance of communication, conflict management, and negotiation skills that are a requirement for eligibility for an exemplary partnership. While these misguided beliefs remain unexamined, such notions may be running our relationship and may be running it right into the ground.
When a deep long look is taken at marriage, we may discover that is not that the institution itself is flawed or outmoded, but that the old form has surpassed its usefulness. Visioning a new form of marriage, one in which both people grow and develop into the best that they can be, accompanied by a realistic action plan that makes room for some uncomfortable birthing pain. If we are wise, we will realize that there is likely to be some discomfort as we give birth to ourselves and to the healthy, hearty relationship.
It’s a piece of work to evolve into a highly skilled negotiator, but well worth our time and effort. If we have a loose attachment that is easily dissolved when our partner agitates or disappointments us, we pass up an extraordinary opportunity of growth and development. A marriage is intentionally designed to seal us in so that when things become challenging, we can’t so easily walk away. And while some marriages do need to be dissolved, many more can become enlivening to both partners who dedicate themselves to the challenge of reaching down deep to find their creative solutions. Both partners staying with the challenge of the process provides an in depth experience that is not attainable elsewhere. Becoming a terrific negotiator will challenge us to be more of who we are, a worthy goal, and the payoffs are quite extraordinary. Stay tuned for Part 2 to learn ways of becoming an effective negotiator.
Linda and Charlie Bloom are excited to announce the release of their third book, Happily Ever After . . . and 39 Other Myths about Love: Breaking Through to the Relationship of Your Dreams.
“Love experts Linda and Charlie shine a bright light, busting the most common myths about relationships. Using real-life examples, they skillfully, provide effective strategies and tools to create and grow a deeply loving and fulfilling long-term connection.” – Arielle Ford, author of Turn You Mate into Your Soulmate