Marriage Resource Center of Illinois Valley

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Relationship Myths
and why you should be glad they are not true

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              I shouldn't have to ask...

       Maybe you shouldn't have to but the fact is you do have to negotiate.  You and your spouse are different people with different needs.  Perhaps at the beginning of your relationship negotiation may not have been necessary for any variety of reasons.  Your positive feeling toward each other is high,  interest in getting to know each other (and each others needs and interests) is high and willingness to give in is high.  It looks like the stereotypical conversation. "What movie do you want to see?" "Oh, I don't care do you have something in mind?" Deciding may have even been difficult because no one was willing to say what they wanted.

 

      However after a few years of marriage, stresses build and people typically become less able to figure out what the other wants.  It is not because they don't care but because there isn't time anymore. The longer you have been married the more responsiblities demand your time. Between taking care of the kids, the stresses of the job, keeping up with the house there often isn't much left. Sometimes only one partner asserts their needs. They are usually happy in the relationship but not even knowing their spouse has a long list of unmet needs that have built up over time.  I often hear the assertive spouse say "I didn't know you were unhappy, I wish you would have told me sooner." The unassertive spouse response is "I tried to tell you 10 years ago but you never listened and I just gave up. "

 

       The good news is that negotiation is a good thing.  Just to be clear I don't mean negotiation as in "hostage negotiation".  What I call hostage negotiation is when threats and negative actions are used to get what you want.  It might look like "OK, so you want me to have sex with you three times a week? Well you are going to get no sex until you clean out the garage."  Instead, positive negotiation starts with the agreement that each of you will attempt to meet the other's needs.  So a simplified conversation may look more like, "Ok, so you want to have sex three times a week?  You could help me get more in the mood if you would call me from work once a day to just see how I am doing and send me flowers once a month." Hopefully you get the idea.  Negotiation is not a demand like in a hostage negotiation.  However, negotiation simply involves the implicit agreement that needs are to be met and that problem solving will be done to figure how to best meet those needs. 

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