From Bears (Option Institute Co-Founder): Two of the most important principles we teach about Happy Negotiation in our Couple Course Program could seem so simple and so obvious at first glance, yet they hold the promise of taking our relationships to the next level. Yes, yes...you'd think negotiations is about getting what you want...but there is much more at stake.
Often, in our love relationships, there is much that we want (much that we hoped for) as well as, hopefully, aspects that we currently might hold in high regard and embrace with gratitude. We can experience the push/pull...we're not always on the same page with the same priorities. "Well, I really like how my partner is strong and reliable but he doesn't share what's inside or show his emotions". Or, "I adore my partner but she is often demanding and always seems to want more attention than I am currently giving." Or, too quick to anger, too quick to dismiss my point of view. Or, wanting too much sex or not wanting it enough of the time. You can just input your situation into those sentences. What we have is the uniqueness of individuals who share a common world (by choice) and then realize they'd like to change the "other" person...either in small doses or profoundly. Does that mean we are judgmental or non-accepting of the other person? Only if we judge (they're bad or wrong or...." But if we, for the moment, suspend determining notions of right and wrong...and rather realize that different folks have different wants and perspectives...then the next step is deciding to simply and directly going for what we want (judging the other person won't enhance our position or impact the conclusion in our direction -- actually, it would probably erode and distract us from sharing and asking and getting what we want. Two simple concepts (out of the 8 that we teach as part of the Principles of Happy Negotiation) that you can begin utilizing right now -- and these will profoundly improve the quality of your interactions.
1) Prioritize being loving and playful. Often, when we are asking for something important or "negotiatiing," we make it "serious" business because we're often concerned about not getting what we want rather than focusing on the essential nature of our relationship. Actually, the essential nature of our relationship is TO LOVE. When we choose to focus on loving someone, we fill ourselves with love -- actually, sustainable love doesn't happen when others love us, sustainable love is when we DO the loving. Short and simple. Before any negotiation, decide to slip into the intention and delivery of loving your partner...that's why you are with them in the first place.
2) Eliminate unhappy forms of motivation. Dump them all: complaining, whining, guilt, anger, ultimatums and victim-mentality. Impossible, you might be thinking. If you start with #1 above, this one will be easier maintain. You see if you're there ONLY to get what you want, then you missing invoking LOVE. However, if you remember that all relationships are journeys and the most important aspect of any journey is what you do along with way...ah, then love vs. accusation, love vs. complaining, love vs. anger -- becomes more sensible and doable. I always say: WHAT YOU FOCUS ON, GROWS BIGGER.
3) Yes, I know I said I would present two principles...but I want to throw in a third. Be specific in exactly what you want and why you want it. Imagine there are no entitlements in relationships. You don't get what you want because you're breathing. You don't get what you want because the other person is supposed to magically read your mind. You raise the possibility of getting what you want because you ask and you give enough details so the other person understands. "Be nice to me." Too vague. "Show up more fully." What does that mean? Specifics: I want to spent 30 minutes every evening just reserved for you and me to talk/share/plan/cuddle. Ah, now we know what you want. Specifics: I want to have one day, every other weekend, for each of us to do our thing: golf, shopping, tennis, museum visits, lunch with the "boys" or the "girls," whatever -- you get to do fully what you want and I get to do fully what I want. Wow, very specific. Or, we get to switch...I stay with the children the day you do your thing and then you stay with them when I do my thing.
Implement the above today/tonight with your significant partner and you'll be on your way. If you want or can, also joining us for our Couples Course Program starting Oct. 5, or, at the very least, consider the 3 CD series that includes Happy Negotiations among other tools from the program. Samahria and I take the major teaching role in this program...let us teach you what we've learned using the Option Process in nurturing and expanding an ever-growing relationship between us. Relationships present us with some of our greatest opportunities to make love and acceptance (self-love and love other other person) huge/huge trans-formative experiences in our lives. No matter what happened in the past, today is a new day...and all we have is this moment (this day)
Love, Bears (Option Institute Co-Founder)