Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Policy of Joint Agreement: Part 1

I want to tell you something that for some of you may be common sense and for others will blow your minds. Many of you will probably have objections. But trust me in this, if you try this for 30 days and it does not radically change the direction of your relationship I will give you your money back. But you haven't paid me anything you might ask? True, but that's besides the point! If you take this policy and apply it faithfully in your relationship, you and your spouse will cut down on fighting, bitterness, negative feelings, etc. It will probably contribute to a better sex life, deeper conversations, and excitement about your relationship and even life in general. It's not rocket science but it works. OK, here it is:

The Policy of Joint Agreement (By Wilard Harley)

In a marriage, your interests and your spouses interests should both be considered at the same time, all the time. One of you should not suffer for the benefit of the other, even willingly, because when either of you suffer, one is gaining at the other's expense. If you both care about each other, you will not let the other suffer so that you can have what you want. When you are willing to let the other sacrifice for you, you are momentarily lapsing into a state of selfishness that must somehow be corrected before damage is done. The Policy of Joint Agreement provides that correction.

Before I tell you what the Policy of Joint Agreement is, I want to warn you that when you read it for the first time you may think it's crazy to be suggesting such a rule. But the more you think about it, and the more you follow it in your marriage, the more you will recognize it as the breakthrough you need in the logjam that the Giver and Taker create in marriage.

The Policy of Joint Agreement:

Never do anything without an enthusiastic agreement between you and your spouse.

If you follow this rule, it will prevent you from giving so much that it hurts you, or taking so much that you hurt your spouse. It forces you into the balance you need in marriage to create and sustain a compatible lifestyle and the feeling of love. So what happens if you have a dilemma and you can't agree on a solution - that is, you can't agree on a way to move forward that you are both enthusiastic about? The answer is simple; you don't do anything. Usually, this leads you back to the negotiating table where you can eventually find a solution or you take a breather on the issue and come back to it later. Either way, you don't damage the relationship by moving forward with something that one (or both spouses) strongly object to. Making decisions that cause one spouse to suffer are never worth it, even if the spouse submits to it. The Policy of Joint Agreement helps prevent and also correct some of our most emotionally damaging marital behaviors including manipulation, coercion, selfish demands, independent behavior, and annoying habits.

Committing to The Policy Of Joint Agreement is one of the toughest but wisest decisions you will ever make. Once you become accustomed to it, you will wonder how you ever attempted marriage without it. Why is it so effective? One reason is because it embodies Jesus words to us in the Golden Rule ("Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"). It is the most loving, fair, and "Christian" way to approach an intimate relationship. It is a way for you to stand up for yourself as well as respect the freewill and choice of your spouse.

So what do you think? On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you uphold this policy in your marriage? Any objections to it? What's stopping you from trying it for 30 days and seeing what happens?


Moxymama said...

Very interesting. I would say as a whole we have unknowingly followed this rule 80 to 90 percent of the time. I do agree with the general idea that if one spouse or both "gives in" to something that he/she is not thrilled about it could/will breed resentment, anger, etc.

Moxymama said...

Just as a follow up I think there have to be concessions made when it comes to each other's families. There are family members of mine that my husband doesn't care for but he sucks it up and attends functions where they will be present for the sake of family harmony and I do the same with his family even though there are some pretty serious issues with our relationship with his family. I think if "enthusiasm" was the requisite factor to decide whether we saw his family we never would. :)

Mark said...

Hey Moxy,

I think that Jobina and I follow this rule about 95% of the time when it comes to big decisions and about 80-85% of the time when it comes to annoying habits, independent behavior. Regarding your thoughts on the family issue: I think there is a distinction between things that a person naturally doesn't enjoy or like versus "suffering." Anything that causes the other person to suffer is a love buster for the relationship. There are family functions that I don't necessarily get excited about and/or want to avoid but I wouldn't say that I will suffer to go to them. Most of the time and in most situations, the distinction is obvious and for the times that it is not - well, that's what negotiation and communication are for.

As an example, a husband is offered a job in a far away city. The job is one he will love, will increase the family's financial security, etc. The problem; the wife doesn't want to move - she will be away from family, friends, all her supports. If he insists they move, he will damage the relationship. The Policy of Joint agreement says that they have to come up with a decision that they can both enthusiastically support or they don't move forward. It is then up to the couple to negotiate something that they can both get behind. In the above example, a good solution would be for the wife to agree to move but if she doesn't like it there, after a year, they move back. Because she wants to please her husband and make him happy, she agrees to it and decides to give it a chance. But if she doesn't like it after a year, the husband (who wants to please his wife) honors his wife's wishes and moves back. Their are other creative solutions as well. Can the policy be abused? Yes (in the short term), but because it applies equally to both partners and is not used as a club but as a healing ointment, it naturally balances out things and creates a strong incentive to negotiate lovingly and fairly.

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