Build Your Spouse a Golden Bridge

You or your spouse have both made offers and counteroffers. Yet you are still not in agreement.

How do you close the deal?

You don’t retreat to your corner and hope your spouse will magically come around. Help break the logjam.

If the two of you are stuck, discuss the fact that you are stuck. Mentioning the lack of progress without being judgmental or assessing blame is surprisingly productive. Keep your comments light and indicate your willingness to help resolve the deadlock.

Also, ask yourself –

Would I accept my offer if I was in their position? 

If not, what would it take for me to do so?

It is essential that you retain a certain level of flexibility. This is why it is so important to begin the negotiations by asking for moderately more than you are reasonably willing to accept. Flexibility gives you room to allow your spouse to “win” something that is not really at your expense.

A good part of any kind of negotiations is ego-driven, and divorce negotiations are no exception. Always remember that everyone must bring home a trophy.

If your spouse’s ego is getting in the way, make sure they don’t have to pay too great a mental price for backing down later in the negotiations. Build them a “golden bridge” to retreat across and make it known that the bridge will always be open.

You do this by using the standard of the law as a means of helping your spouse to retreat. It is much easier for them to save face by agreeing to follow a law than it is for them simply to give in to you. Following a law is not a sign of weakness, and it allows them to back down with grace.

However, be careful not to come off sounding like an authority on the facts or the law. Do not presume or convey that your insights are superior. You will only infuriate your spouse. Pretend you know less than they do, because this shows respect, even in disagreement.

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Kari and Richard are staunch advocates of the non-court approach to divorce, and are also active and seasoned litigators with over 80 years of combined trial experience in the Illinois divorce courts of Cook and DuPage counties.