The ability to compromise is one of the key components of a marriage. If you’re not used to compromising, it can be difficult (or seemingly impossible) to implement this skill with your spouse. In my experience as a family law attorney in Bergen County handling divorce and child custody issues, I have found that when negotiating, it’s critical to learn how to compromise in order to come to an agreement. There may be times when you feel like having your way or vice versa, but gentle negotiation can result in favorable outcomes. Here are three (3) ways to gently negotiate with your spouse without hurting feelings: 

Set Your Feelings Aside

When negotiating, remember it’s best to approach all issues with a level head. Set aside your own feelings and work through your emotions in order to arrive at the best solution that works for both of you. The purpose of negotiating is to have a discussion, not a disagreement that could lead to an argument. This is why it’s important to check your feelings before sitting down to negotiate with your spouse. If you fail to do this, other issues will arise that could ruin the potential to have a positive negotiating experience. 

Remain Equal

Place yourself in your partner’s shoes. For example, let’s say you’re deciding on whether or not to purchase a pet for your household (mainly because your child wants one). You know your spouse is not too fond of dogs/cats, but you want one anyway. Instead of getting upset, try to understand their reasoning behind not wanting pets. Maybe they’re allergic or have experienced a negative encounter with pets in the past. If this is the case, try convincing your child to consider another type of pet. By doing so, you’re more than likely able to equally satisfy everyone’s needs/wants while maintaining your sanity.

Stand Firm

After a decision has been made during negotiation, try not to waver on it. This exhibits stability, and confidence, and allows your partner to trust your decision-making skills. Nobody enjoys being around someone who cannot make up their mind. Even when a specific topic seems uncertain, always trust your first mind. Make a decision and stand firm on it. 

In conclusion, negotiation is necessary within marriage. Although it may seem challenging and somewhat dreadful, it can produce positive results. Negotiation doesn’t have to result in arguments or unresolved issues. Through managing emotions and setting aside feelings, remaining equal, and standing firm, you are able to exhibit gentle negotiating without hurting each other in the process. 


This article contains general information and opinions from Sheena Burke Williams and is not intended to be a source of legal advice for any purpose. No reader of this article should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information included in this article without seeking legal advice of counsel. Sheena Burke Williams expressly disclaims all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any content in this article.