If you need advice to resolve conflict in your marriage, you’ll find some great tools in Dr. Willard Harley, Jr.’s new book, He Wins, She Wins: Learning the Art of Marital Negotiation.

Instead of engaging in battles where one spouse wins and the other loses, Dr. Harley challenges couples to look for win-win solutions.  If a successful business can find a win-win situation for owners and customers, can we do the same in marriage?

Dr. Harley introduces the Policy of Joint Agreement: 

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

Before making a decision, find out how your spouse would feel about that decision.  Of course, this works easily if your spouse feels as you do.  Things get murkier when there’s disagreement.

Dr. Harley offers ground rules for successful negotiations.  He touches on the common marital conflicts that require negotiation:

  • Friends and relatives
  • Career requirements
  • Time Management
  • Finances
  • Children
  • Sex

Conflict in marriage is inevitable.  But it’s good to know that conflict does not have to end in ugliness.  If a husband and wife will decide to fight fair, consider each other’s opinions as valuable, and work towards an agreeable solution, there will be lasting peace in the home.

You must make up your mind first that mutual agreement is a positive outcome.  Two heads indeed are better than one.  If you believe this, the principles in the book will work in your marriage.

One of the problem solving strategies Dr. Harley addresses is the sacrifice strategy where one spouse capitulates to the other.  Although I understand that personal sacrifices should not be made if resentment is sure to follow, my husband and I discussed this point because marriage is filled with sacrifices made for each other.

An example in the book is about a couple planning a vacation – one wants to camp, the other wants to go to Orlando to the theme parks.  All the kids vote Orlando, so the other spouse gives in and ends up resenting the vacation.

IMG_7308This is funny to me, because James would vote camping and I would vote Orlando.  But in real life, I have gone camping and James has gone to Disneyland.  I don’t consider that capitulating negative.  I think we must be adaptable and choose to have a good time in these situations of give and take.

I’ve put on a happy face hiking on a trail and James has put on a happy face waiting in line for Autopia.  Sacrifice is a part of the package.

Overall, this is a great book to get talking with your spouse about how you are going to resolve conflict in the future.  I love the idea of WIN-WIN…that is an outcome every husband and wife can agree on!

He Wins, She Wins is available October 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.  Thanks Revell for a copy of this book to review!






Arlene Pellicane

Send this to a friend