Very often, conflict arises in relationships and things become unsettled. Sometimes they finally hit the rock and shatter. Many relationships get this way just because partners are unable to reach an agreement.
Whenever people come together, they all come along with their different needs, wants, aims and beliefs. It is hard not to have conflict and disagreement when such differences have to be brought along into a union. The only guaranteed way to make sure such differences never cause conflict and disagreement is negotiation.
Negotiation is a hard thing and so is relationship. In negotiation, each partner is often looking for a win position. For this same reason, it is always hard on both partners.
Dr Ellyn Bader, author, speaker, therapist and co-founder of The Couples Institute in U.S., writes that ‘three most common negotiating mistakes’ that couples make are:
‘1. Failure to prepare before the negotiation with your partner;
2. Caving in too quickly to avoid tension or keep the peace; and
3. Stubbornly pushing too hard for your own solution.’
But even without making any of these mistakes, partners could still have challenges. These challenges would be about issues that may be non-negotiable and this is a much bigger problem. Because such issues cannot be negotiated, partners have to make a compromise and forget about finding a common ground on them. Each partner may just have to give up on getting the other to agree with a common idea or situation.
Results from a study of readers by Ami Angelowicz of The Frisky show that non-negotiables in relationship often include:
Having affections for each other appears not just enough. Many of those surveyed in the study say, hugging, kissing and cuddling cannot be given up.
Being honest with each other cannot be replaced. Faithfulness, loyalty and dependability all fall under this category.
Majority of opinions point that laughing must be part of life. ‘We like to laugh our way through life,’ participants say.
There is little meaning in trying to build a solid relationship if respect is not the foundation, according to results.
Kids are a hot item on the list. Participants say they ‘want someone who feels the same way about wanting or not wanting’ to have kids.
A partner who sits around looking at the internet all day is unaccepable for most. Many insist on a partner who is living an active life. Someone who take some time off to go to the gym or take a walk at least.
It is hard for partners to negotiate religious and political beliefs. Having a partner with similar religious/political belief makes it less difficult. Religious and polical beliefs are not things that partners want to debate.
Finances turn out to be important. Participants say, ‘If you want to get serious with us, learn how to balance your checkbook and then we can talk.’
Popular opinion among participants suggests that openness cannot be negotiated. They say, ‘We like our people open, not closed.’ Being open to new experiences, open to change and open to life is not something they can forgo.
Many participants ‘like their potential mate to have a little fire’ when it comes to chasing dreams. A partner is either ambitious or forget it.
These are just a few non-negotiables in relationship. To keep a relationship going, it is important to identify and separate things that are negotiable from those that are not. It is best not to try to negotiate those that are not with your partner.
Bader advises that, ‘Do your best to separate interest and concerns from values. You can negotiate your interests but not your core values or integrity.’ She says it does not work, for example, to say ‘I’ll give up my spiritual beliefs for you.’
Talking to Glamour about kids as a non-negotiable in a relationship, life coach and relationship expert Marni Battista says, ‘Remember, this is not an issue that you should hope resolves itself once he or she discovers how amazing you are.’ She warns that, ‘No matter how amazing the chemistry or how great she is on paper, having kids is not something you want to discuss after you start to discuss a wedding date.’
About finances, Battista says, ‘Money is the number one cause of divorce in modern times, so getting it out of the way early will help make it less sticky in the future.’
In an article about non-negotiables in relationship in The Huffington Post, Heather Gray argues that ‘needs’ are things that each partner ‘requires in order to feel functional, secure and happy’ within the relationship, and ‘wants’ are ‘things we’d like to have but that can be up for debate or open for compromise’. She adds that, ‘Our needs are inarguable and telling someone they shouldn’t need something is disrespectful and pointless.’
So, the bottomline, while you can negotiate your partner’s wants in a relationship, you must be ready to compromise for his or her needs.