Friday, November 16, 2007

Deal or no deal?

Unless you have been living in a cave, you have probably seen Kris Aquino’s popular show “Deal or No Deal” on Channel 2. It is an exciting program that tests the contestants’s nerves and adventurous spirit, and which promises (and has delivered) hefty sums of money to those who either correctly choose the right case or who know when to stop and say “Deal!”

Making deals doesn’t only happen in Kris Aquino’s show or in business transactions. In most marriages, husbands and wives often resort to making deals in deciding what to do in certain situations. A lot of times, a husband wants to do something but the wife doesn’t agree to it, or vice-versa. What usually happens is that, to preserve domestic peace, the reluctant partner agrees but with the condition (whether express or implied) that next time around, he or she will get his/her way. Conflicts arise and resentments grow however when this condition is not fulfilled later on, and the partner who gave in previously is forced or pressured to give in one more time.

The love busters: negative habits that destroy romantic love

Dr. Willard Harley Jr. is a world-famous marriage counselor who wrote the classic books “His Needs, Her Needs” and “Love Busters.” The latter book (published by Fleming H. Revell; copyright 1992, 1997 and 2002 by Harley), is subtitled “Overcoming Habits That Destroy Romantic Love.” Harley enumerates these negative habits as:

[1] Selfish demands: Who wants to live with a dictator?
[2] Annoying habits: Who wants to live with a dripping faucet?
[3] Angry outbursts: Who wants to live with a time bomb?
[4] Disrespectful judgments: Who wants to live with a critic?
[5] Independent behavior: Who wants to live with an inconsiderate jerk?
[6] Dishonesty: Who wants to live with a liar?
The Policy of Joint Agreement to find fair solutions

In cases of marital disputes, Harley says the fair solution is that which take both spouses into account and which make them both happy. In page 54 of “Love Busters”, Harley discusses what he calls the “Policy of Joint Agreement” and which he sums up in this statement: “Never do anything without an enthusiastic agreement between you and your spouse.”

Harley explains that “it is important to take each other’s interests and feelings into account whenever you make a decision.” The reason? Harley says, “Demands will not lead to a mutually satisfying solution. They lead to a solution where one person tries to gain at the other’s expense. Moreover, Harley clarifies, “When people are forced to do something they do not want to do they often develop a very negative emotional reaction to the very thought of it.

(Harley uses the words “enthusiastic” and “enthusiastically” in explaining his Policy of Joint Agreement. These words come from “enthusiasm” which traces its origin to two Greek words “en theos” which means “the god within”.)

So how do couples avoid demands and making deals that create conflicts and resentments? Harley suggests these three action steps: [1] Explain what you want and ask how your spouse feels about doing it; [2] If your spouse has a problem with your request, withdraw it in its present form; and [3] Discuss other ways your spouse could enthusiastically help you.

“Love Busters” is available in PCBS, OMF Lit and National Bookstore. The book is a little bit expensive at Php 369.30 unit price, but if you’re married and having problems with your spouse, it’s really a deal.

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