Should you give your partner an ultimatum?

5 things to consider before you do

Inspired by what is certainly the worst show we’ve ever enjoyed, we are exploring the question that is now on everyone’s minds: should you give an ultimatum to your partner? (SPOILER ALERT) It didn’t really work out as planned for most of the couples on The Ultimatum, unless you count Madlyn and Colby or Lauren and Nate being together as good outcomes, which we can’t really do in good conscience. So, we’re left with more questions than answers. If you’re thinking about giving an ultimatum in your own relationship, here are some things to ponder before you do it:

1. You’re backing yourself into a corner

The goal of giving an ultimatum is to reduce the number of choices your partner has from three (stay together as is, get married, or break up) to two (get married or break up). The thinking seems to be that by taking away the option to stay together unmarried you can force your partner to marry you because they don’t want to break up.

But by giving an ultimatum, you’re also reducing your own choices. If they say they’re not ready to get married, you can either follow through on your threat to break up or you can let them know you were bluffing and stay in the relationship, unmarried. If you’re prepared to do one of those two things, then that’s great, but if not, seriously consider the situation you’re putting yourself into.

2. You’re setting a bad precedent for how negotiation works within your relationship

Giving an ultimatum is arguably not the healthiest way to communicate your needs in a relationship. It’s not that we don’t understand the temptation to add in a threat when you feel your partner isn’t taking your needs and wants seriously. It’s just a matter of whether you want to be in a relationship where you get what you want by threatening your partner with the withdrawal of your love and affection and vice versa. Sounds like kind of a stressful way to live.

3. Know your BATNA

BATNA stands for best alternative to a negotiated agreement, and it basically means your next best option if the deal falls through. If your second best option after getting married to this person is really to go out and look for someone else, then fine, but ask yourself if your true next best option is actually staying with this person unmarried. If that’s the case, an ultimatum really doesn’t make sense.

4. It’s probably not that dire

Unless you have a really specific curse that was placed on you by a really specific witch that says that you have to get married in this calendar year or else, ask yourself if getting married is really as much of an emergency as you think it is. Especially if, like almost the entire cast of The Ultimatum, you’re in your twenties and have only been in your relationship for a couple of years. Please just enjoy your life.

5. Getting married doesn’t solve your life

Yes, there are benefits to getting married. In addition to the legal status it affords you, it can also change how your relationship is perceived by others. And for some people, it offers financial security. But ask yourself if these real, practical benefits are what you’re after or if you’re letting yourself get swept up into vague romantic notions of marriage as a cure for all of your problems or as a goal state to achieve or else risk ruin (particularly if you’re a woman). Getting married isn’t going to get you a job you like better, it isn’t going to get you more supportive friends, and it certainly isn’t going to solve your relationship problems.

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