Tag Archives: reducing tension in marriage

Marriage Negotiating Tips from FBI Top Negotiator

dog fight morguefileI came across this Forbes article that gleaned negotiation and communication tips from Gary Noesner, former Chief Negotiator for the FBI, a man who talked many a deranged individual out of their destructive plans, including David Koresh.

I was intrigued by the concept of the Paradox of Power he discusses. This means the harder you push, the more likely you are to be met with resistance. I think we know this deep down, and we display defensiveness and push-back when others come at us in an attacking manner. Yet, we sometimes forget that the key to a successful negotiation or outcome is often in the way we approach our spouse or coworker or child or boss or whomever we have an issue with. Instead of a calm, conciliatory manner, we may approach in an angry or hostile manner. Displaying power may work well in the animal kingdom to throw off predators, but it doesn’t work too well in family life.

What works? Staying calm. Listening. Acknowledging. Then moving forward toward a solution. Noesner says it very well here:

“If the communication skills we developed in the crisis negotiation arena are successful in convincing the most desperate people in the world to cooperate with a 90% success rate, then surely some of these you know active listening skills, these de-escalating cooperation building skills certainly have applicability in the world of business and in people’s personal and family lives. If you’ve got somebody you’re dealing with that’s angry, remain calm and in self-control, listen carefully, and acknowledge their point of view. Then, once you have a calmer atmosphere, you can work towards resolving the problem satisfactorily. I think that is a tremendous diffusing tool that people can use.”

I’m certainly going to try to take his advice to heart. What communication strategies seem to work best in your marriage? Do you find they help you at work also?

Photo courtesy of morguefile.com.

Lori Lowe is the author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It tells the inspiring, true stories of couples who used adversity to improve their marriages–from overcoming drug addiction to cancer, infidelity, religious differences, family interference and infertility, among many others. It’s available at Amazon.com and in various e-book formats here.

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Mind the Expectations Gap

“Mind the Gap” is repeatedly blared in the London Underground train stations to remind passengers not to stand between the train door and the station platform. The catchy phrase was developed in 1969 and caught on so well that they now sell t-shirts with the admonition. Minding the gap in our marriage is also important, but unfortunately you won’t hear a daily reminder shouted out at you as you begin your day.

Marriage researcher Terri L. Orbuch, PhD, says in a new book 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great that most marriages do not break up due to conflict, communication problems or sexual incompatibility. Instead, it’s regular frustration that drives a wedge between couples. “It’s the day-to-day disappointment or the gap between what you expect and how your partner acts—that is most damaging,” she says.

Take a minute to think about that fact, and you’ll probably agree that when one or both partner’s expectations are not met during the average day, tensions mount, conversations become tense and intimacy is nearly nonexistent. You were counting on your partner to follow through on something, and now it’s on your plate. You’re disappointed. You may move into negotiation mode to get through your day and your to-do list. You inherently become a bit more selfish to protect your interests, and you feel less generous in helping your partner. There’s little chance you will go out of your way to please him or her.

Orbuch suggests sharing your expectations regularly with your spouse to help keep tension levels low. If you aren’t receiving enough affection or dedicated time, or if your spouse isn’t helping in an area that was agreed upon, take time to talk it through. A previous post on hMindthegapow to get through to your spouse offers some techniques to communicate effectively and to listen well to your spouse.

Even when things are great for a few years, job, home or family changes can shake up expectations again. Make it a recurring topic to address so that it doesn’t appear one spouse is complaining about the status quo, but rather both spouses are interested in minimizing the expectations gap. If you have trouble remembering to do this, you can always order the t-shirt.