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What is a Third Alternative?

I have decided to accept the challenge from Stu Gray of Stupendous Marriage: Love, Sex, and All the Rest to participate in this month's Ultimate Blog Challenge. The challenge is to post something on Assume Love daily for the month of October. It was this or give up chocolate for the month, and I think this will be a lot more fun.

This week's teleclass is on Third Alternatives, so let's start there.

For me, discovering Third Alternatives put an end to so much frustration and disappointment that I love sharing them with anyone who will listen.

Let me draw you a picture of them. First, one of you gets an idea. For example, let's put the laundry room in the basement of the new house. Then the other has a "better" idea: let's put it off the family room.

Or one of you says let's spend the money on a better lawn mower, but the other says times are tough and we had better keep it in our savings account.

On a simpler, but just as frustrating level, one of you says let's put the toilet seat up or down as we need to, but the other thinks it looks better or reduces middle-of-the-night risks better if it's always down.

Those are the first two alternatives. The first is a happy "I have a good idea" suggestion. The second, designed to prevent whatever unhappiness that good idea offers, turns it into a disagreement.

Unfortunately, at this point, most of us forget we're on the same side. We forget how much we love being able to give our spouse what he or she wants. All of a sudden, we feel threatened, afraid we will not get what we want at all.

And we forget that these two are not the only alternatives available to us. It's "what I want" versus "what I really don't want." So we begin the opening arguments for our defense of our great idea.

Of course, there are almost always more than two alternatives. We can have what we want most of the time and get the bonus of giving our beloved husband or wife the great treat of getting their way. All we have to do is find that Third Alternative that has the elements we like about our great idea and the elements our mate likes about the opposing idea, but none of the negatives of either of them.

For example, together you find a way to have a better lawn mower without losing any of your savings. Instead of convincing your partner to compromise or give in, you work together to find a Third Alternative that pleases both of you.

Tomorrow, I'll talk about how to do this. You can make this month of 31 posts a lot easier for me: just ask questions using the Comments form — or send chocolate!

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Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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