When They Give You an Ultimatum

When they say, “Take it or leave it. This is my final offer.” How should we respond?

The best thing to do is to ignore the statement and go on as if it never existed. Never, ever mention or allude to it. Just keep talking and allow it to fade into oblivion.

Don’t take the ultimatum personally and fire back. Most ultimatums are blurted out in moments of frustration and are short-lived, most evaporate naturally and quickly. Ignoring an ultimatum gives your partner the unspoken opportunity to continue the negotiations without loss of face.

When they say you must settle by a certain date or time, ask, “What if I take a little more time but I come back with a counterproposal that gives you just as good a deal? Would that be okay?”

Or, if your spouse insists you accept their proposal here and now “or else,” you can subdue the urgency by asking, “How about if I give it some thought and come up with something even better? That’s okay too, isn’t it?”

These types of questions calm the situation instead of aggravating it.

Another way to handle an ultimatum is to tell them, “You know, I might go along with this if you would agree to some of the other things I’ve asked for.” When they ask what those are, tell them you want to be very careful before presenting them, and that you would like a day or so to state them properly.

This is not about bargaining for extra time. Asking these questions neutralizes the threat and gives them a chance to get off the hook for making the threat.

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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.