People say one a successful marriage requires learning to compromise. I, however, am not a big fan of compromise. To me it sounds like someone loses or gives up what they want or they give in to what the other person wants. In my marriage, I prefer to negotiate with my husband.
Negotiating is necessary whenever two or more people come into contact. Whether it is something simple like what to have for dinner, what movie to watch or a decision with long term affects like what to invest your money in or where to raise your family. Learning how to negotiate isn’t about who is right or who has to give up what they want. It is a process of open communication where you help and allow each other to proceed toward your goals. The objective is to reach mutually agreeable solutions and decisions.
Learning to negotiate is a process that takes practice. When we negotiate with each other we follow these simple guidelines:
- Listen and seek to understand the other person.
- Keep the relationship the priority and be respectful.
- Strive to satisfy the interests and desires of both sides.
There are many different types of negotiations that happen every day and there are thousands of articles, books, and blog posts about how to become a good negotiator. The common thread I find in them all is learning to be persuasive. While this is a good point to look into, I want to focus on the worth of negotiations when you are married to an entrepreneur.
While there are many common negotiations in marriage, when you are married to an entrepreneur those dynamics are multiplied. This is because of the third partner in the marriage, the business. Not only do you have money, time, sex, work, family, kids, vacations, etc., but then on top of those basics you also have money for the company, time for the company, your individual relationships with the company. There could also be relationships with partners or co-founders that impact all of this as well.
In our marriage I sometimes feel like my husbands laptop is the third partner. My husband does almost all of his business on his laptop. He also loves what he does and enjoys working, so needless to say he is always on it. I often feel that I am competing with the laptop for his time and attention. While at times I get frustrated, it has become something we definitely negotiate with each other on. We found that when we have specific times that are “laptop free” it helps me to feel that he is engaging and focusing on us. For example, our “laptop free” zone is from when he gets home, through dinner, and up until about an hour or so before we go to bed. Obviously there are many exceptions and times he needs to put in some extra time but for the most part we stick to this and it has helped us stay connected.
Remember that the objective when negotiating, is working to achieve a mutually agreeable solution. This is not always easy and will require give and take from all partners involved. Sometimes you will be the one giving up more for your partner and other times your partner will be giving up more for you. It is not always going to be equal or fair but the worth it has is priceless. These negotiations have worth because they will allow you to protect what you value, while allowing your entrepreneur to seek after what they value too. This worth will strengthen the bonds and unity in your marriage when you make decisions in your marriage that you both agree with and feel good about. This worth will also allow opportunities to share, understand and grow.
After putting this to the test in my own marriage, I have found that reaching a mutually agreeable solution is something we work hard on and I have found that the more we work on this concept, negotiating is less and less intimidating and our relationship is stronger.