A belated Valentine’s Day post.  The Harvard Law School Negotiators, a student organization seeking to provide students with opportunities to become involved in negotiation and dispute resolution work, hosted a program entitled Negotiating Love: Interpersonal & Romantic Relationships.

The program, moderated by Rachel Viscomi, focused on the importance of interpersonal negotiations in romantic relationships and how one might use negotiation skills to have a happier, more fulfilling relationships. According to the Harvard Gazette:

What are the secrets for long-lasting love? Lean closer to find out.

  • Keep curiosity alive.
  • Never assume anything about each other.
  • And, last but not least, open a joint bank account.

“The longer people are together, the less accurate they are about their partners,” said Richard S. Schwartz, a psychiatrist and part-time associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School (HMS), drawing laughs from the audience. “The longer you’re together, the stronger your assumptions are that you know everything about your partner,” he said. “You lose your curiosity and your wish to explore.”

“We’re experts in what’s wrong with the other,” said Jody Scheier, teaching consultant at the Program on Negotiation at HLS. “When we tell our partners we want to have a conversation with them about something they did, it’s because we want them to change. And that conversation is not going to work.”

One thing that does seem to work is having a joint bank account, according to [mediator David] Hoffman. “There is strong data that shows that a joint bank account is a robust predictor of success in the marriage,” he said. “When couples open a joint bank account, there is a sharing of responsibility, time, and money, and that’s a positive indicator.”

Art Hinshaw is a Clinical Professor of Law and the Director of the Lodestar Dispute Resolution Program at ASU Sandra Day O'Conner College of Law. His research and teaching interests focus primarily on mediation and negotiation, often bridging ADR theory and practice. He is an avid writer and contributor to ADR Prof Blog.