The Oxford Dictionary defines it as 1. “Having sound judgement; fair and sensible”, and 2. “As much as is appropriate or fair; moderate”. This definition is a good starting point when negotiating for a reasonable agreement.Yet What’s reasonable to one might be in complete contrast to someone else. Our legal system does provide at least some help in all of this. It provides a test by how a reasonable person would have acted in a particular set of circumstance.The reasonable person is that person who represents the norm of society.If there is an inability to exercise a degree of reasonableness, the level of probability of a detrimental impact increases. This is not usually realised till long into the future. In particular family relationships. These are driven by high emotional conflict.
What happens to reasonable when a high level of emotion is involved? When these two get together it can produce some unreasonable outcomes. Emotion is saying “they’ve hurt you, so hurt them back.” “yeah, ya right, they did, how could they do that?” Emotion adds “they were a bad mother/father, you can’t trust them.” And so it goes. It’s called negative intimacy. All the negative assumptions you have about one another after the relationship is over. Now it’s quite normal to be highly emotional especially during and after separation. However, like anything if not managed, can adversely effect one’s ability to respond reasonably. It is well documented and researched the impact on children, whose parents engage unreasonably, making decision on their emotion rather than what’s going to work for the children.
What’s the risk of being unreasonable? It can affect long term relationships. Parents and children are an example of this. This relationship is a lifetime. The determinate on the future is the ability of how the parents reasonably manage the present. Children are dependent on Mum and Dad to be reasonable with one another.
How will I know if I’m being reasonable, considering the flood of emotion and negative feelings I have for the other person? Consult with a professional (mediator, communication coaching,GP, counsellor, psychologist), endeavour to look at the issue objectively and ask the question, “am I just wanting to get at them?”
Shouldn’t I go to a lawyer first? The lawyer works in an adversarial system. It is about winning and losing. Proceeding down a legal path can fracture already tenuous relationships, such as parents. The issue becomes a fight to be won and all attempts at being reasonable go begging as our old friend emotion entrenches themselves in a position. It becomes a vendetta, a battle of wills, deep pockets (finances) dug into a position.
Being reasonable is working hard to find solutions that have the objective of satisfying the majority of interests.