Almost everything we do in life requires a strategy – whether it’s saving up to purchase a home, starting a business, or attempting to pass a major exam. You shouldn’t go into certain situations blindly, hoping for the best outcome. The same advice applies to negotiating with your spouse. In my time working as a family lawyer in Bergen County, New Jersey, as well as a family mediator in Bergen County, New Jersey, I have witnessed that positive, methodical forms of communication often work best. To further explain, here are three negotiating strategies for you and your spouse to implement when needed:
Before approaching any issue, take a moment, pause, and take a deep breath. Assess your emotions, acknowledge them, then make an attempt to avoid scolding your spouse. In some situations, there can be elevated emotions that are difficult to manage. However, it is recommended to get your emotions in check as best as possible. This allows for positive communication, understanding, and conflict resolution to take place. Avoiding negativity, blaming, and refusing accountability makes the negotiation process a lot smoother.
Develop Reasonable Solutions
When you have established positive and open communication with your spouse, the next step is to develop solutions to the issue(s) that are reasonable. If you own a business together, this could mean agreeing to work late most evenings at the location, while your spouse completes backend items. Or, handling customer complaints on a regular basis, while the other is in charge of ordering supplies. Your issues could involve something deeper, such as a difference in spiritual beliefs. In this case, your strategy might be to learn more about each other’s beliefs for a better understanding of each other. If you aren’t persuaded to change your belief system, communicate that with your spouse and remain firm in what you believe in.
Understand Negotiating Is An Ongoing Process
Negotiating with your spouse is never-ending. It’s a process that requires different “rounds” (in boxing terms) if something doesn’t work out the first time. As your spouse grows individually, specific issues in your marriage will shift also. What may have worked in the past will not work presently, and you will find yourself making new adjustments. When this happens, take a moment to accept that nothing in life is linear and shifts, even differing opinions are expected. Depending on how difficult the issue is, it could require more trial and error until it’s resolved. Remember that there’s no “perfect” solution in negotiating, and you will have to accept that revisiting issues is normal and ongoing.
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.