In committed marriages, what you want, what is important to you shows up in the day-to-day encounters around big and small issues occurring between husbands and wives. It is deciding who is going to go to the grocery store today, talking about how the children are doing at school, deciding if you are going to move so that one of you can take an exciting new job, who will get the children to soccer practice, how to achieve a satisfactory sexual life, will you go to church, do you go to the movies this weekend, etc., etc.
The way to create a committed relationship in which each of your wants and preferences are respected and honored in your relationship is through collaboration, the ultimate form of working together. Collaborating partners operate as a team to achieve a common purpose, which cannot be achieved by either partner on his/her own.
Here are a few basic ideas about what being collaborative means:
Collaborators are Equal. True collaborators are always equals and each partner accepts full responsibility for his/her part in the process of negotiation. Collaboration requires the sharing of authority and an acceptance of personal responsibility for the outcome.
Collaboration is not Capitulation. Collaboration protects individual autonomy. Most of us have a (possibly non-conscious) fear of being overwhelmed by someone and are reluctant to surrender any part of our autonomy in a relationship. Collaboration involves each partner explaining what he/she wants, why it is important, and how strongly he/she feels about the idea. Each partner learns new things about what is proposed and new things about his/her partner’s wishes and wants. Neither wants to do anything that the other regards as too unattractive. The idea is to end up with a plan that shows that each partner’s wishes are respected, a plan that reflects the process of collaboration.
Collaboration is not Cooperation. Collaboration is about the process of working together, while cooperation is about the result of working together. For example, I can cooperate with you by stepping aside while you do what you want to do. Collaboration means we talk about what you want to do, why you want to do it, and how important is it to you. In collaboration, I am involved from the outset.
Collaboration and Gender. Gender may be one factor that influences our wants and preferences. Gender attributes may shape wants and preferences, but the fact that something we want might be gender-related can neither preclude nor precede collaboration with each other as equals.
A committed marriage is a life-long partnership, which links two people around their most fundamental wishes and wants in order to flourish as individuals and as a couple. This requires great attention to the maintenance of a collaborative environment of negotiation.
Stephen J. Coulson. How to Maintain Your Autonomy in a Collaborative Partnership. (http://www.thegiftedway.com/dynamic-living-archive/how-to-maintain-your-autonomy-in-a-collaborative-partnership/)
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