Written by Roger Fisher and William L. Ury in 1981, the bestselling book Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In has become a go-to resource for working through challenging negotiations. As it turns out, the “getting to yes” methodology can also be very helpful in mediating difficult divorce agreements. Below are some key insights that we can apply to divorce negotiations, based on the book’s five-point method.

1. Separate the people from the problem

When you view your ex as “the problem” or vice versa, negotiating a settlement becomes much more difficult. In truth, there are specific issues between you that are causing the split—not any one person. Focusing on the issues rather than placing blame takes you much further toward a solution that works for both.

2. Focus on interests, not positions

When you simply take opposing positions in a disagreement, one person “wins” while the other “loses.” Instead, try focusing on the interests of each person: what do you want in a settlement? What does your ex want? Is there any position you could take that could serve both interests?

3. Generate options for mutual gain

Once you’ve identified each person’s interests in the divorce, start imagining a number of alternatives in which both people stand to gain, turning a win-lose into a win-win scenario. This is key to turning combat into negotiation because both of your interests are now being served.

4. Insist on objective criteria

When contemplating the alternative solutions, you must base the consideration on an objective set of criteria. This is the more difficult part of the negotiation, because both parties will likely give up something they want. Here is where a neutral mediator can be most useful because he/she has no emotional investment in the solution.

5. Know your “BATNA”

Should negotiations fail or you find yourself losing too much ground, your Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA) is your baseline or safety net—the “worst case scenario” or default course of action you must take if you can’t come to agreement. Knowing your BATNA gives you a fair point of leverage in negotiations as the low point that both parties wish to avoid, helping you both stay motivated to come up with a better solution in the divorce agreement.

We’ve all heard of the “seven-year itch.” It’s the time when couples get bored in a relationship and crave something new. Is there any credence to this idea, or is it just another old wives’ tale? Leading experts in human psychology say there’s no simple answer.

Austrian philosopher and Rudolf Steiner created the “seven-year itch” theory. He theorized that we experience life in seven-year cycles. We experience seismic changes in physical and intellectual experience. We’re more likely to have instability in our relationships and divorce. The theory was so popular that it led to the production of a Marilyn Monroe movie of the same name in 1955.

Some think the seven-year itch is the result of raising children through the infant years. It’s a time that takes a toll on the relationship. Others think it’s simply the average time those annoying habits become intolerable.

The Which Year Itch?

Wright State University psychology professor Larry Kurdek conducted a study in 1999 that found both the four- and seven-year itch may be true. It concluded that couples tended to experience two periods of decreased marital quality: once at the four-year mark and another at the seven-year mark. Parents of young children were more likely to experience a rapid decrease in marital quality.

Another study in 2010 found that couples were most likely to divorce at the 12-year mark. The study analyzed information from 90 law firms. It found that most couples spent a decade together before going their separate ways.

Then the parenting website Netmums conducted a survey in 2012 that examined the relationship between parents. Nearly half of the 1,500 respondents said that having a child drove them apart. Parents were most likely to split at the three-year mark as opposed to the seven-year mark. The website’s founder hypothesized that ticking biological clocks rushed couples into marriage. The couples later realized that they weren’t right for one another.

So Who’s Right?

The mixed results of each study indicate that divorce can happen at any age. Couples who don’t prioritize their marriages are more likely to divorce than those who do. Your relationship may fall apart if you don’t spend time working on it.

Ending a marriage at any stage touches off an emotional storm and raises lots of legal questions. Call a compassionate, seasoned Minnesota divorce lawyer today at 763-323-6555 for a private consultation.

Divorce can get ugly without the complications of travel. However, if you travel a lot for business, and you find yourself involved in a divorce, you could find yourself under heavy stress. Here are five ways you can deal with your divorce and extensive business travel.

1.    Plunge ahead – If there are no children or pets involved, you could easily get away with traveling for your job. Whether you are an entrepreneur or business owner, a high-level executive, or you simply work in an occupation that requires travel (airline pilot, for instance), there is no need to change your lifestyle if your divorce won’t affect anyone but you and your spouse.

2.    Cut back on the travel – On the other hand, if you could lose custody of your children, or you are afraid your spouse may end up with custody more often, then you could strategically curb your trips. This is the course of action many entrepreneurs have taken. Being the owner of a business can be an advantage. If you’re an employee, check with your boss to see if this is an option.

3.    Change careers – If cutting back on the hours is not an option, and you want to ensure that you have joint custody of the children with your spouse, consider making an abrupt move, like changing careers or radically rethinking your position. Look for something that doesn’t require travel.

4.    Change your travel destinations – If possible, try to alter your travel destinations so that you aren’t away from home as often or for shorter periods of time. If you’re a truck driver, for instance, you might ask to make shorter runs or handle more local routes.

5.    Negotiate with your spouse – Many spouses will work with their former partners for the benefit of future relations and the sake of the children. Talk it out.