Lisa and I have been asked to present at an upcoming Branches of Valor event called “Living Abundantly in a Stress-Filled World.” We’ll be presenting a marriage enrichment course. I put together some class notes for the group that I thought I would share here. They’re pretty self-explanatory, but write back if you have questions or thoughts.

Negotiating Your Way to a Stronger Marriage

Presented by Tom and Lisa Mann

  • There are two types of beliefs – Foundational and Negotiable. Foundational Beliefs are those that are absolutes and non-negotiable. If they are crossed they are deal breakers (faith, fidelity, family, morals, etc…). Negotiable Beliefs are EVERYTHING that is not a Foundational Belief. Negotiable Beliefs are completely negotiable, meaning both parties have a say in the final agreement of how that belief is to be managed in the relationship.
  • Most people confuse their Foundational and Negotiable beliefs. Many think some of their negotiable beliefs are foundational, which causes significant friction in a relationship. Again, Foundational Beliefs are only those beliefs that cannot be compromised without significant emotional, psychological, or spiritual damage to the person.
  • Negotiation does not mean 50/50. Negotiation means an outcome both parties agree to, which can mean one party gets 100 percent and the other party agrees to get 0 percent; or, one party gets 65 percent and the other party agrees to 35 percent. Every issue is different and each partner will most likely get an uneven advantage that is negotiated in this process. The key is this: once an agreement is reached, there is no more negotiating unless one or both parties agree to renegotiate. In other words, once you agree, you agree. There is no going back on your word.
  • Negotiation in marriage is not about winning or losing. It is about finding common ground on tough issues. Negotiation is not about power. It is about loving the other person enough to compromise when you don’t really want to.
  • Keys to Negotiating:
  1. God must be the center of your marriage and the place you turn for strength in your marriage. In your own strength you can do nothing. Do something difficult – pray together before you start the conversation! Ask God for guidance and soft hearts toward one another.
  2. Never try to negotiate when you are angry – doesn’t work.
  3. Respect one another’s opinions even when you disagree with them.
  4. Never question the other person’s motives.
  5. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes – try to understand from their viewpoint not your own.
  6. Use “I” statements – I feel this way or I am uncomfortable with that. Don’t use “You” statements – You make me feel this way or You make me uncomfortable with that.
  7. Know the difference between a want and a need. Don’t confuse the two.
  8. Be able to clearly explain not just what you want but why you want it.
  9. Do not dig your heals in just to dig your heals in. Remember, this is not about winning and losing. It’s about finding common ground in the marriage.
  10. Appreciate the compromising the other person does for you. Do not take the things your spouse does for granted.
  11. Humble yourself before your spouse – works both ways!
  12. Do not say or do things that “trigger” the other person if possible. If one party is triggered, discontinue the negotiation until the trigger has subsided.
  13. Husbands – love your wives. You are willing to die for them so be willing to sacrifice yourself (pride, ego, comfort, frustration, etc…) for them.
  14. Wives – respect your husbands. You love them so be willing to sacrifice yourself in ways that show you respect who they are and what they do.
  15. Do not make excuses or place blame. Own what you own. At the same time, don’t own something that doesn’t belong to you. You own enough stuff yourself!
  16. Lastly – when talking with one another do so like you would as if Jesus was sitting in the room with you…because He is.