There is a popular quote that says “Compromise, communication and never going to bed angry are the keys to a successful marriage”. Now most married people will nod their heads and say “yes absolutely!”. We have a post that dives deeper into communication _HERE_ and never going to bed angry is pretty self-explanatory but today we are going to address that word compromise. Much like communication I often hear people generically toss around compromise as marriage advice but most people have no idea what it means to compromise in a marriage. Does it mean I never get my way? Does it mean I’m going to always have to bend my wills and desires? How do I compromise and still feel satisfied/happy? These are all valid questions I’m hoping to help you feel more at ease with compromising in a healthy and fulfilling way.
To some married people, compromise might sound like a dirty word because they have grown accustomed giving into the desires of their partner in the name of compromise but have completely neglected what they want. If you feel like that, then you are doing compromise wrong. The purpose of it is to make you feel the exact opposite of that. In a marriage you are melding to the lives of two completely different individuals into one, that will definitely come with bumps and bruises so think of compromise as the balm to heal those nicks. Compromise is supposed to feel like a peaceful understanding between your spouse and yourself.
Webster defines compromise as an agreement or a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions. EACH side making concessions is the key here. If there’s an argument and one person gets exactly what they asked for, and the other spouse gets nothing they asked for, then guess what? That was not compromise. I’ll give an example of what is often mistaken as compromise. Henry and Diana typically watch their favorite show together every Friday night, but this Friday a highly anticipated game is coming on and Henry wants to watch that instead. Diana feels like nothing should come before their quality time and it begins an argument. After much discussion Henry convinces Diana that they can watch the show tomorrow night instead. This is NOT compromise because Henry did not make any concessions, he probably wishes he could’ve avoided this 20 mins of back and forth but he wanted to watch his game on Friday and that is what is happening. Diana agrees to watch the show on Saturday night instead of what she originally planned; in this case she is the only one that made a concession. In order to make this a true compromise Diana can add on a desire of hers, such as tomorrow we will watch our typical show and a movie that she has been wanting to watch. This would be a concession that Henry will have to plan and make time for. To some that may seem petty or unnecessary. In the next paragraph I will tell you why it is important.
There is one word to illustrate why it was important for Henry to also make a concession – BALANCE! Balance is one of the keys to life and especially in a marriage. What I see far too often is one partner finds themselves “compromising” and making ALL of the concessions, eventually that partner will get burnt out or begin to feel unappreciated. There is no doubt that there will be times when one partner will HAVE to make unreciprocated concessions and that is OKAY. Life happens and not every situation calls for true compromise. What is important here is that both people in the marriage feel appreciated and valued.
To tie things up it’s important to note the true meaning of compromise and reflect upon some moments in your relationship where you thought you compromised? Was it really both parties making concessions? Or did one person get their way and the other dealt with it? I will warn you that this can turn into tit-for-tat which can be unhealthy as well. So again BALANCE. Know when it’s okay to concede and when you need to push back more.