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My Married Life: Spousal Nonnegotiables

I don't know if any of you guys watch The Millionaire Matchmaker, but Patti Stanger, the matchmaker herself, is always talking about "the nonnegotiables." In fact, Stanger recently ended her long-term relationship and disclosed (via Twitter no less) that it was due to the fact that she wanted children in her life and her fiance did not. Kids, it turns out, fall comfortably under the umbrella of nonnegotiables.

Now, Tres Sugar has posted a list of common nonnegotiables online. To some extent, I get it. One of the reasons Jack and I took so long to get engaged was that he wasn't sure he wanted kids and he knew that I did and wouldn't marry him if he was sure that he didn't. But here's the issue: I think that it's only all right to have two or three of these things max -- religion, children...stuff of that magnitude only. The reality is that to have a successful marriage, almost everything has to be negotiable. Why? Because people change, opinions change, careers change, priorities change -- and staying together requires being really, really flexible.

Recently, I was talking with two girlfriends of mine at a party; both are single, and both are adamant that if any of the 10+ criteria on their nonnegotiable lists are not met by a potential suitor, it would be an immediate deal breaker. I know this sounds horrible, but as I listened to them I thought, "Thank God I don't look at love that way!" Neither of these women has been in a serious relationship in many, many years -- yet they remain adamant. To some, like my friends, compromise just isn't worth it. They'd rather be alone than flex. Me, I'd rather bend.

What about you? What do you consider to be nonnegotiable?

-- Holly

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