The art of negotiation in relationships - Women's Health & Fitness

The heart of the deal

It can sometimes be hard to pinpoint or define exactly what's making you feel at odds in your relationship. You may chalk up your anxiety to stress at work or in another area of your life. A change of age, reading an article, a faith-based influence, talking to a friend - these are all factors that can affect your frame of mind. The first step toward renegotiating is figuring out what it is that has your emotions turning and running in the opposite direction. What is it that's made your mind go from 'yes' to 'no'? Whether you have to ponder your situation or you already know exactly what's bothering you, it's then vital to be willing to admit to yourself that your mind and heart are calling for change.

Maybe you once said you were fine with your spouse staying home with the kids but now this doesn't sit well with you. Perhaps you agreed to try something new in the bedroom but now you've decided that this change isn't working for you. Each couple's relationship is unique, which means that renegotiations can be called for in any area of your partnership. There is no right or wrong part of your relationship to discuss or change. Every bit of the connection that the two of you have formed is up for grabs - and that's a good thing. You just have to remember that if it's you who is feeling discomfort in your relationship, it's up to you to figure out where the problem sits. For many people this is the hardest part - you know you're upset, but what should you do about it?

This is the time when a life coach can provide valuable help and guidance; helping you clarify your own feelings and needs as well as some techniques to achieve the outcome you hope for with your partner.

Finding the right timing and right language to tell your partner that a piece of your relationship is no longer making you happy is critical. This can be particularly challenging if you believe that your partner is perfectly satisfied with the way things currently stand in the relationship.

It's necessary to take your partner's feelings into account before telling them what it is that has your heart calling for change. However, it's also important to refrain from holding your thoughts back just because you worry that your about-face will upset the one you love. Renegotiations aren't inherently smooth. What does make them work better is the determination to convey your message in a healthy way while respecting your partner's primary needs and resolving to open up a dialog between the two of you.

More often than not, the challenge of a renegotiation is harder for those couples whose lines of communication are not already open. If you always worry about your partner's negative reaction to a bit of news or unwelcome information, it's no wonder that you'd rather keep your dissatisfaction to yourself than risk unsettling them. But a solid relationship is formed on good communication, and staying mum on an issue that resonates strongly with you just to keep things on an even keel with your partner is a recipe for disaster. You can easily come to resent your partner if you don't explain your feelings.

Any reluctance to share your change in thinking may also stem from the desire to keep your partner happy. Again, remaining quiet on an issue that's important to you just to keep the peace will not solve anything. In healthy relationships, both halves of a couple want to see the other person happy, and they want to help make and keep them happy. Give the person you love the benefit of the doubt and don't be afraid to voice your thoughts about something you'd like to renegotiate.

To find out more about improving your relationships get a copy of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus from or call 1300 135 153 to find out more from one of my Australian coaches.

Until then ...

Dr John Gray