Friday, February 3, 2012

The Dangers of Getting to an Impasse

In labor relations, when two sides simply cannot reach an agreement and become deadlocked, it is called an "impasse".  An impasse is usually mutually harmful, simply for the resulting delays as well as the resulting attitudes on each side from having gotten to the place where the deadlock is evident.  An impasse indicates a situation where no progress can be made.

If couples do not learn to communicate and handle their problems effectively, the result is also an "impasse".  There is no obvious escape from the situation.  Neither side can see the other person's claims; rather than to move forward the couple becomes "stalemated".  In labor negotiations, a mediator must be called in to settle the impasse so both parties can move forward.

What do you do when a husband feels one way about something and the wife a different way?  You both feel so strongly you can't move forward until an agreement is reached...  Before you seek outside help of your pastor or a counselor, try using effective mediation principles between yourselves to see if you can effectively decide what to do first.

1.  Pray together.  Let the Lord direct you as to how HE wants you to end the impasse!  Are you really considering the other's needs more importantly than your own?  Are there things to consider that will negatively affect the future or your spouse or your family spiritually?

2.  Both sides need to seek to understand the other.  Each person has to be given the opportunity to ask a lot of questions.  Maybe the other person has a strong reason for why they feel the way they do.  Maybe something is so disturbing to them that they cannot imagine moving forward until the issue is solved.  Due discovery will help to uncover reasons why someone is not able to defer to the other person's point of view.  Make it a point to ask the other person a question, and then to answer it yourself.  Writing everything down often helps.

3.  Write down the "pros" and "cons" to each way of solving the problem.

4.  Consider an alternate plan other than the one each of you is pursuing.  By thinking outside the box, you can sometimes move forward.  For example, if one person is determined to borrow money for a vacation, and the other person refuses to go into debt for a vacation, maybe you can agree to pay off your loans and then take a vacation, or you can decide to take a smaller get-away while you owe money and after your loans are paid off take a bigger vacation.

5.   Communicate.  Many times impasses are really just a lack of communication.  Each person's underlying interests, emotional barriers to settlement, or blocks to understanding maybe just haven't been communicated.  Maybe timing issues need to be discussed.  Many times underlying emotions need to be addressed that are blockading progress in the decision.  For example, a person may feel that they are "always the one" to give in, and refuse to go forward even if it's something they don't really mind.  Sometimes negative emotions that have nothing to do with the issue at hand block progress and need to be brought to the surface and dealt with before you can move forward.

6.   Don't stop negotiating.  Many impasses occur because negotiations aren't carried through properly.  Each party has a position and they are not willing to move, but this may be that they are unwilling to move unless they see things in different perspective.  With stress blinders on, you can lose clear vision to see the bigger picture.  For example, when my husband's work wanted him to move out of state, he couldn't understand that if I moved away from my family and friends, he would be married to an entirely different person than he fell in love with.  My support team is critical to me in my life, and I define my life not as how much money I make or how beautiful the mountains are outside my window, but being in a closely knit family and walking together with them in all the little ups and downs of life and being a part of their every day experiences.  I know I could never substitute new friends and people I am not related to for my family and have the same meaning and definition of family life.  Realizing he couldn't have the things that our family's lives thrived on from a long distance, my husband realized he could not have the move AND the wife he adored, and he let go of the move.  He had to stop paying attention to "losing" in the decision enough to realize that the "no" to his current desire was really in his best interest long term.

7.    Reaching an agreement.  After reaching an agreement, write down the agreement and hold each other accountable to it.  If it is an agreement to stop spending money, take an accounting twice a week to hold each other accountable to it.  If it is an agreement to spend more time together, make the dates, put them on the calendar, and hold each other to keeping those dates.

If you can't make it through, it is important for you to seek help from your pastor or from a counselor.  An "impasse" means you are stopped from progressing and from moving forward, and that is a bad place for a relationship to be.  If you try to incorporate all the wisdom in moving forward and still can't reach a decision, a third party can often bring hidden things to light.  Sadly, many times the third party is only given partial or wrong information, so be sure that this is not the case.

And remember:  the most important thing is NOT a single decision, but your relationship, and how you feel about each other.  It is more important that your spouse knows you care about their best interests than if you get your own way all the time!

No comments: