The collaborating represents a high concern for both your partner’s needs and your own. The goal is to arrive at a win–win situation that maximizes both parties’ gains. After they had their first child, for instance, Mick and Laura felt the strain of paying for day care while Mick worked and Laura went to school. Let’s observe how they arrived at a collaborative solution in the following example.

Mick: What would you think about me reducing my work hours and you taking more of your courses online so that at least one of us would be home almost every day?

Laura: That would mean we’re bringing home less money every month, but it would also mean we wouldn’t have to pay for day care anymore, which would actually save us a little money.

Mick: Besides that, we’d be able to take care of our own child instead of paying someone else to do it.

Collaborating probably sounds like the ideal way to handle conflict—and in many situations, it is. It can also require a great deal of energy, patience, and imagination. Although it might seem like the best approach, it can also be the most difficult.

What’s another example of how these strategies might operate in real life? The “At a Glance” box highlights one conflict—two siblings fighting over who is going to get a new car—and illustrates how each of those approaches can be employed when engaging in the conflict.

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