Today's FOC word: Wifery- the action of cooking, cleaning, support for another person. Though seemingly sexist in nature it is used to refer to any of the said jobs performed by women or men in our geometry.
Why bring this up? Well, because it was part of our recent family meeting. The work-set of Wifery helps Prof feel more like a primary partner. Since he is far away and lives alone he feels more loved if I drive up to bring him chicken soup when he is sick, or come clean his house like I did for his birthday. Sometimes I go for vacation and not wifery. Anyway the title of this one was negotiation so here are the things we keep in mind when negotiating.
1. Self knowledge and Honesty- if you don't know, how can you say, if you don't say how can it be considered, if it isn't considered how can it be answered. So before a negotiation I let the guys know what we are going to meet on and give them a little time to think about it. Honesty with kindness is our creed around here. We have nothing to hide least of all from each other.
2. Naming it- we don't have formal roundtable debate as you might think of formal negotiation. At least not anymore. Now we name the purpose of the discussion handle it first and them move on to other stuff. A clear purpose for a meeting of minds is essential.
3. No assumptions- if one of us senses an emotional response we ask about it. For example, Prof and I were talking about his metamour and he sensed I was upset. Rather than try to coddle me out of tears and fears he asked me what was going on. It turned out that I needed to talk through my feelings and deal with them. This time it was knee jerk reaction to some abandonment crap I have to deal with. We never assume anything.
4. Listening- If there was anything more important than this it's self knowledge and honesty. Knowing how to listen is a real skill few people have. Sit quietly, focus on the person who is talking, without judgement or interruption, be supportive, be kind, be grateful. You never know when something someone else says helps you. Really listening to the guys has taught me so much about what they need, how their minds work, how to talk to them when I do talk. It's helped in other relationships too.
5. Be Flexible- Mad Science is a logical thinker but not a clear communicator so we work on a thing until he is satisfied. If I don't understand or have an emotional response to something he says, I ask for clarification. Like being at the optometrist. Is it this, or this, and we narrow his meaning down until it is what he really means. Prof on the other hand is a wordsmith so he communicates fairly precisely, so I know that most of the time what he says is what I have heard. I still ask when I am against a filter.
6. Arguing is not negotiation- Our negotiations have been so successful that we rarely get angry. The only caveat is when we are emotionally charged by something else and someone is trying to have a logical discussion with emotional compromise. I am often the one who goes to anger and then only when compromised in some other way. It's my job to say, "Now isn't a good time, what you need is really important to me, but can we talk about this again in 30min, 1 hour, two days," whatever is appropriate. And it's the other person's job to bring it up again. In a lot of cases I find myself rational again before the stated time and will go to the person who asked. I like to deal with things in a tidy orderly fashion since so much of life isn't.
7. Tolerance- my way is not always the most useful or expedient. I must remember to keep my ego in check and be open to ideas I had not considered. Something that has worked in the past may not work now, in this situation. There is no place for auto-pilot or black and white thinking in a relationship.
8. Unity- In our relationship we want to maintain a sense of unified harmony in order to best meet the needs of all parties involved. Why else would we have a relationship? You may well ask, but I will have to answer that in another post. Since Unity is the goal and love is the law we are careful to be inclusive and non judgmental. Sort of like tolerance but a step further with unity. We could go out and someone ask us a question and we would all have answers that are not surprising to each other. We present a family unity that is true inside and outside the family. We consider the needs, feelings and ideas of each person involved, and we support those things when discussing our life with others.
9. Speak kindly- we all have times when we think someone else is being ridiculous or is harboring information that is contrary to the facts in those cases we take the person aside and discuss it rather than openly correcting them. And truth isn't a weapon, a truth said in a kind, respectful way out of love is much different than one spoken out of disrespect, and resentment. You will get a much different reaction.
10. Take responsibility for your feelings- feelings are not wrong but they aren't always true to what you believe. I am in a constant state of transition emotionally, sometimes I react out of habit, training, or because I think it's what you expect. It doesn't always relate to what I know.
For example: Mad Science goes out with a girl and they have sex and it eats into my time I feel jealous. Our arrangement is based on our shared belief that one person cannot meet all of another person's needs and that we only want to see the other person happy. So I look at why I feel jealous. Am I afraid she will "take him away from me" or "her needs are more important than mine"? Those are ideas based in fear and possession. I acknowledge I feel jealous, I also acknowledge what idea is behind that. I give myself permission to feel it and let it go. It doesn't serve the relationship for me to be jealous. I go to Mad Science and say: "Can we negotiate some more time together just you and me?" and we do.
I also find it is helpful to be friends with or at least friendly toward the metamour. She becomes human to me. Knowing her motives and feelings helps ease my mind. I take responsibility for my feelings by recognizing them, acknowledging them, assessing their usefulness, and stating my needs when rational. It isn't up to the guys to make me feel differently, it is up to me. If I don't want to feel differently I don't have to, but the consequential unhappiness is unsupportive of our agreement. If my needs are not being met even after rational negotiations perhaps I need to look elsewhere or evaluate how important this is. Is it a need or simply a want.