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Communication Advice: How to Know When It Truly Is a "Dealbreaker"

By Susie and Otto Collins

There might come a time in your marriage when your deeply-held beliefs seem to be threatened by your partner's actions or words.

It may involve a core agreement the two of you made or it could be your newly developed convictions just don't match up with those of your mate.

Either way, you might find yourself asking if this issue is a "dealbreaker" for your marriage.

Is this something that you would consider ending the marriage over if it's not resolved to your satisfaction?

Dealbreakers can occur in more subtle forms as well. You may not see this agreement violation or conflict as something you'd end your marriage over, but a severing of some aspect of your connection might result nonetheless.

On a recent episode of the comedy sitcom "30 Rock," lead character Liz became an overnight sensation giving relationship advice. Her catch-phrase is "That's a dealbreaker."

When troubled women and men come to her upset and angry about something their partners are doing--or are not doing-- more often than not, Liz advises them to take a stand and not put up with the offending behavior.

A kind of "it's my way or the highway" pattern is set up on the show and, as you might expect, Liz's advice backfires and causes more hurt and pain in the relationships she was only trying to help.

Of course, there are times when it's completely appropriate and advisable to set a strong boundary in a love relationship or marriage.

The challenge arises when more and more situations between you and your spouse turn into dealbreakers. This isn't about who is right and who is wrong.

It's about you and your mate feeling like you can come together and make agreements about how you each want to live-- and then follow through on those agreements.

When just about everything feels like a dealbreaker, there is probably an environment of tension present.

One or both of you might be so entrenched in your own life rules that you are unwilling or unable to listen to try to understand where your partner is coming from.

But it is also possible-- and prevalent-- for you to go
along with your spouse and not speak up when agreements or your deeply held convictions are violated.

In cases like these, the intention is usually to keep the peace, at all costs.

And the costs are often the trust and connection between you and your mate-- not to mention your own sense of self-empowerment.

Get clear about your priorities.
When you come up against a situation that feels inappropriate, offensive, or just "off" in your marriage, take some time to go within before trying
to talk with your partner about it.

Take some deep breaths and set aside your assumptions about this particular situation.

Instead, ask yourself what your priorities are in relation to what's currently going on.
*What is most important to you?
*What are you willing to be flexible about?
*What is non-negotiable?

In other words, get really clear about what is a dealbreaker for you and to what extent. This is important to know before you decide what to say to your mate and how to say it.

Be willing to follow through.
As you communicate with your mate about this issue and your feelings, make it your intention to follow through on what you say.

We've probably all witnessed (or been involved) with someone setting a boundary and then not following through.

It might be the mother who gives her child throwing a fit the candy bar even after she promised him or her she wouldn't do that.

Your sense of credibility and trust in general is undercut when you don't follow through on what you say.

This applies to dealbreakers as well.

We encourage you to create agreements with your spouse that help you feel at ease with the situation.

We also advise you to actually do what you're saying. This means that you hold up your end of the agreement.

And it might also mean that you consider walking away if you decide you can't be in a relationship where your deeply-held beliefs are somehow being violated.

We want you to set boundaries when you need to.

We also want you to be clear about your priorities and listen to those of your spouse.

When it's a dealbreaker for you, be clear and communicate that.

See if your mate is willing to make changes with you
and, if not, consider what your next follow through move will be.

For more communication tips to help you create great relationships, visit



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Contact Info
Relationship Coaches Susie and Otto Collins, PO Box 14544, Columbus, OH 43214
Contact Susie or Otto about Relationship Coaching by calling (614) 568-8282.
For all other inquiries, contact us by email.

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