Typical marriage books are filled with the same info. Communication, compromise. Love and respect. The importance of date nights. Typical marriage books contain info that is a good reminder but isn’t really something new to my marriage file-folder.
He Wins, She Wins: Learning the Art of Marital Negotiation by Willard F. Harley breaks my mold of typical marriage books; so much so that my head is still reeling over what I read.
The premise of this book is that unless decisions are made where both the husband and wife win in the outcome, someone loses. “This win-win model for negotiation states with a simple rule: Never do anything without an enthusiastic agreement between you and your spouse.” And when a spouse loses, the marriage suffers. Mr. Harley is very convincing and I can see where compromise can cause this to happen. But the question that I am battling is, “Can every decision in a marriage end with a win-win solution?”.
After explaining the importance of this, the author describes five situations that are common battle grounds for couples.
- Friends and Family
- Career and Time Management
And if you marriage is anything like ours, these are common sources of conflict in your marriage as well. Following each chapter are questions to help get the conversation started. My husband and I found these questions to be very thought provoking.
To conclude the book are ideas to deal with a spouse that struggles with depression, making commitments, and when you are emotional. The appendixes contain worksheets and questionnaires. (The questionnaires brought up a lot of communication!)
My initial feeling is that this book is unrealistic. There is no way that we can 100% of the time enthusiastically agree on everything. It is something that sounds great but fifteen years of marriage as taught me otherwise.
But in discussing the concept with my husband we both saw where our goal needs to change from compromise to agreement. While compromise looks good on the outside, it makes withdraws from our personal Love Banks. I realized that moving to win-win agreement means that we are both working to do what is best of our marriage and our family. And had we done this early in our marriage, so many hurts could have been prevented. Today, we need to move from good to best.
Sadly, this isn’t going to happen over night. But that fact that our barometer has moved is a great thing!
Mr. Harley is also the author of the very popular His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage book.