When looking for a partner, you know there are some key qualities that will make or break the relationship. You need to find someone you can easily talk to. Someone who gets your personality. Someone who will laugh at your jokes and make you laugh in return. Someone who “completes” you, as the cliché goes.
So you want someone who seamlessly fits into your life and you into theirs. However, you don’t want your partner to be your identical twin in everything. That would be boring. The idea is that together, you enhance and enrich each other to become a complete entity.
Of course, this is the ideal – what you wish and hope for your relationship and your marriage. And in a perfect world, you would find Mr. or Miss Right, know that he or she is The One, and live perfectly and happily ever after.
But reality tells us a different story. A real relationship and marriage are far more complicated than that picture-perfect fantasy. There are good days and bad days. Sometimes things are easy, and you couldn’t be more in love with your partner. Other times, when your partner frustrates you and gets on your nerves, it feels like a lot of hard work.
This is utterly and completely normal. Once you get past the passionate and romantic honeymoon phase, you’re left to figure out the more common, everyday workings of your relationship. You’re going to fight. You’re going to disagree. And if you want your relationship to survive and thrive, you’re going to have to compromise.
Compromise Is the Key to a Happy Relationship
When you’re in a relationship, both partners have to be willing to put in the necessary effort to make things work. This is where compromise comes in. The dictionary defines a compromise as: an agreement or a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions. So when we compromise, both sides have to give a little to make things work for each of you.
Let’s look at an example to see how this works.
You and your partner love going to the movies, but you don’t always have the same taste in films. You love comedies and dramas. Your partner loves action and horror. Friday night, you want to see the latest romantic comedy, but your partner wants to see the newest scary movie. How do you decide?
You could each go see your individual movies and reconvene afterwards, but that defeats the purpose of going to the movies together. Or you could compromise.
You have two options here if you decide to compromise. You could forego your original choices and decide on a third, separate movie together that you both agree on. Or one of you can give up seeing your movie to see your partner’s movie.
While you may not necessarily want to see your partner’s movie, you’re making a concession to be able to go to the movies together and enjoy a fun night out. And if you compromise this time and see your partner’s movie, that means that next time, your partner should be the one to compromise and see your movie choice. Or, by picking a totally different movie, you’re both compromising.
So instead of having an argument and getting frustrated by picking a movie, you’re coming to an agreeable solution.
Even though this is an easy example, it shows you how compromise can work for both of you. Sometimes when we’re in a relationship, we do things we don’t always want to do. We do them because we love our partner and we want to make them happy. And when you compromise for your partner, your partner should be willing to compromise right back because they feel the same way about you.
The Rules of Compromise
So now that we know what it means to compromise, we also need to know the rules of compromise because there are times where compromising isn’t the right choice.
Never compromise who you are. While it’s important to make concessions in your relationship, you should never have to compromise who you are or what you believe in for the sake of your partner.
Never compromise your happiness. If your partner wants you to compromise on something that will make you unhappy, then you shouldn’t have to do it. A compromise is something that you agree on, and you should never agree to do something that doesn’t make you happy. Your partner shouldn’t expect this of you either.
Never compromise on having your needs met. You shouldn’t have to make concessions that leave you unfulfilled. If you and your partner have different physical and emotional needs, it might be difficult to meet both of your needs without causing feelings of stress and resentment. That’s why communication is so important. By talking together, you can come to an agreement on what will satisfy both of your needs.
Compromise is a two-way street. There are two people in a relationship, which means that both of you have to make compromises. If you are always the one to compromise, you will eventually start to resent your partner because you are the only one making concessions. For a relationship to work, it needs to be give-and-take. A good idea is to take turns. If you compromise now, your partner should have to compromise next time.
You don’t always have to compromise. Just because you can compromise doesn’t mean you have to. If your partner wants to spend their Saturday afternoon reading in a coffee shop and you would rather get your errands done, it’s okay to do separate things. Neither one of you will feel like you gave something up that you really wanted to do.
Compromise should be a tool used to help a relationship instead of hurt it. So the next time an issue arises, see if you can compromise instead of picking a fight. It might make all the difference.
If you want to be proactive by making your marriage a more conscious and intentional relationship, consider attending a safe, yet powerful IMAGO Couples’ Workshop or seeking out a Houston relationship counselor. Contact me today to set up a consultation.