Have you two been struggling to get along. Try this simple guide to bringing peace and harmony back into your marriage.

A. Decide On The Ground Rules For Harmony And Unity
B. Navigate Productive Conversations
C. Negotiate a Successful Resolution

A. Decide On The Ground Rules For Peace and Harmony
  1. We will live our lives open to criticism, compromise and change committed to being 100% in agreement and to remembering our agreements
  2. We will remain calm, pleasant, not interrupt each other and practice active listening
  3. We will avoid using always, never and other methods of shaming the other
  4. We will share the floor taking turns talking with neither of us monopolizing the time
  5. Will will not say OK without heartfelt consent
  6. We will not walk away, change the subject, hang up or go ghost without asking for an agreed time-out time
  7. We will seek prompt reconciliation not withholding affection or sex after a disagreement 
  8. We will deal with one issue at a time and not litigate (go over again) stuff already resolved
  9. We will stay in the present using concrete examples and not deal in speculation or generalization
  10. We will stop, ask for clarification if needed, and apologize immediately when “foul” (the word used when one of these rules has been broken) has been called 
B. Navigate Productive Conversations
  1. Name their emotion – It appears you are really upset|hurt|angry about [name the topic]
  2. Actively Listen – In your opinion you see it this way [Describe how they see it] 
  3. Verify you got it right – Did I get that right?
  4. Imagine how your spouse feels – I can understand why you will feel that way seeing it the way you see it.
  5. Get Permission to talk – Are you open to looking at it from a different perspective?
  6. Ask for respect  – If not, how much time will I have to wait to be allowed to share my perspective on the matter?
  7. Tell your perspective – If yes, in my opinion about [topic] I believe [share your perspective]. 
  8. Identify the message they received was accurate  – What do you hear me saying? [Spouse demonstrates they were listening by paraphrasing what you said then asks if they got that right]
  9. Open your spouse up to compromise – Then ask – Are you open to compromise on this matter or do things have to go your way?
  10. Negotiation – Enter the Negotiation Stage
C. Negotiate a Successful Resolution
  1. Agree on the issue of disagreement
  2. Agree on your desired outcome
  3. Restate your perspectives
  4. State each of your needs that must be met for a satisfactory outcome
  5. Share what you would be willing to compromise
  6. Make counter offers if desired
  7. Agree on the negotiated terms (Get help if still needed)
  8. Record the terms in your ‘Book of Agreements’ making sure it is smart – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bound
  9. Determine when you will come back to review if the decision achieved the hoped for outcome
  10. Re-enter negotiation if the desired outcome was not reached/Celebrate your achieved agreement in some tangible way

Joe Follette

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