Five Questions to Help You Find 3rd Alternatives

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You want something. Your spouse objects, because he or she wants something else in the same time slot, with the same money, or in the same spot. You need a Third Alternative.
You want what you want, and you want to be the sort of spouse who gives your mate what he or she wants, too. But what you each want is seldom the thing you each say you want. It is the feelings and the capabilities that thing offers you. And there are many ways to get what it offers you.
Question 1: What results would our Third Alternative need to provide to make both of us happy?
Question 2: What disadvantages would our Third Alternative need to avoid to make both of us happy?
Question 3: What stands in the way of having this AND that instead of this OR that?
Question 4: What are we taking for granted about our options that does not really matter to either of us?
Question 5: Who do we know that might have looked for something similar in the past and run across ideas we have not heard of yet?
A Third Alternative gets you what you want and lets you give generously to your life partner at the same time. If you are looking for one right now, please use the comments as your way to reach out to thousands of other people for help finding it.

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Patty Newbold

I am a widow who got it right the second time. I have been sharing here since February 14, 2006 what I learned from that experience and from positive psychology, marriage research, and my training as a marriage educator.

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  • I recently heard some scary info about the additives in junk food and decided that I really didn’t want us to be eating take-away anymore (something we do on a regular basis at the moment). I’ve also hated seeing the “wasted money” from that.
    However, hubby loves getting takeaways… he sees it as his only way to give me the night off from cooking and also, after living through real financial struggle as a child, he sees being able to buy takeaways as a sign that he can provide well for his family… which is a big, big deal for him.
    So we have disagreed about this for a long time and I’ve just gone along with it and tried to keep quiet and content about it, but when it came to our young children’s health, it really became much more important to me.
    We came to an agreement… both compromising a little, we have agreed that we will only buy local, non-chain takeaways- ie, the local fish and chips that make their own chips and batter, the local Indian restaurant, the local burger joint (non-chain, who use free-range everything, etc)
    We’re both happy and it turns out that this food is about the same cost and so much yummier! Bonus!

  • I love your example, Anita. You two have really separated out the elements that matter to you.
    He wants to spare you from cooking and to feel the pride of being able to provide well for his family that take-away food provides him. He wants to avoid doing the cooking.
    You want healthy food for yourself and your children. You want to avoid wasting money, spending it for benefits available for a lot less money.
    But you recognize that, for him, the money does not buy food. It buys the power to spare you from cooking and the pride of being the provider he did not have as a child. That is hardly wasted money; it’s a bargain. And he now recognizes that you measure the value of the food provided not just by convenience for you, but by how healthy it is to eat, so he buys it at places likely to provide a healthier product and probably feels even better doing this, even if he occasionally misses his favorite national fast food chain.
    This is a great Third Alternative, Anita. Thanks for sharing it.

By Patty Newbold

Patty Newbold

I am a widow who got it right the second time. I have been sharing here since February 14, 2006 what I learned from that experience and from positive psychology, marriage research, and my training as a marriage educator.

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