Shamelessly Bargain (And Always Have a Bottom Line) (Fights You’ll Have After Having a Baby, Part Eighteen)

My Relationship Journal: September

Lesson: Shamelessly Bargain (And Always Have a Bottom Line)

Book Notes and Quotes:

His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage, Willard F. Harley, Jr.:

  • Marriage is transactional. “The more you give to your partner, the more they give to you.”
  • Couples have an “inner scoring device you probably never realized you had” that the author calls a Love Bank. Somewhere deep inside our (mathematically skilled) subconscious, we’re keeping track of each others’ balances, and we understand when we’re due payment, and when we owe. When the giving is roughly equal and both partners get their needs met, the relationship is satisfactory to both. When there’s unequal giving, though, the marriage runs into trouble—if not right away, then eventually. The goal, then, is to ensure your transactions even out as much as possible so that neither partner ever feels cheated.

Neale Donald Walsch on Relationships, Neale Donald Walsch:

  • Relationships don’t have to be a friendly (or not-so-friendly) game of tug of war. When disagreements arise and neither partner is willing to compromise, offering clear consequences takes care of the problem. An example: If one day your partner suddenly decides to take up smoking, and you aren’t okay with that, you don’t have to yell or nag. The solution is simple: You tell your partner that you love and respect them, but if they keep smoking in your home you’ll have to move out.

Parenting With Love and Logic, Foster Cline and Jim Fay:

  • Many parenting skills apply to other relationships, too, including friendship and marriage.
  • Effective parents don’t use anger, nagging and threats; instead, they offer choices. When kids try to argue, they don’t engage; instead, they say “I understand,” then repeat the choice.
  • Some examples of choices effective parents give: “Are you planning to be unkind for a while? If so, I’m going to spend some time away from you.” “If you hit, you lose.” “If you spend your allowance on something else, I won’t be able to pay your phone bill for you.”

My Relationship Resolutions:

  • I won’t over-romanticize marriage. My husband isn’t going to do whatever I want him to do just because he loves me; there has to be something in it for him, too. By the same token, I won’t be embarrassed to admit when I’m doing something for him in order to get something in return. Doing so is just part of my self-care.
  • When something isn’t working for me, I won’t nag. I’ll negotiate. I’ll communicate my needs clearly and allow him to do the same.
  • During negotiations, I’ll focus on solutions, not emotions. No anger. No accusations. No spinning off into fear. Instead, I will simply describe what I want, then discuss the matter till it’s resolved.
  • I will have clear and reasonable expectations. I will know what I really need from Matthew and what I’m willing to compromise on or give up.
  • I will have clear consequences. If Matthew doesn’t follow through on an agreement, I will look for a way he can make it up to me.
  • I will always have a bottom line. If Matthew doesn’t agree to giving me a certain amount of money or a certain amount of alone time, I will take it anyway and let him choose to either remain angry or accept it.
  • I will keep my end of the bargain.
  • I will demand a fair transaction. I won’t stay in an unhealthy relationship. I am not a martyr.
  • Most of all, I will remember to keep it simple. Relationships are hard—some of the time. But with clear communication, clear expectations and clear consequences, most of the time, they should feel pretty easy the rest of the time.

For the Fridge:

  • “I promise to negotiate, not nag.”
  • “I promise to focus mainly on solutions, not emotions.”

Read the rest of the series at Fights You’ll Have After Having a Baby: A Self-Help Novel.


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One comment

  1. Excellent advice. Carrying it out consistently may prove (will prove) the difficult part.
    How about adding “I will apologize immediately/ASAP if I don’t follow through on one of the above”?