I received a text from my mother the other day. She was chuckling over the little spat I’d just told her about that came off the back of hubby and I moving house.
We’ve been back and forth about what items to keep, what should go where, and what should be thrown out (interestingly, I always think his belongings should be thrown out, while meanwhile he earmarks only my things for the trash). Anyway, that’s besides the point, and was to be expected.
“Ha … step two of married life!” read my mother’s message. “Compromising!”
I assume she means that the honeymoon period is over and now we’re getting down to real married life business. The compromise.
Learning to cut a deal is an essential part of a healthy relationship.
Plenty of people hate the idea of compromise. They like things to go their way. They don’t see why they shouldn’t. Maybe you were just born stubborn (like my Taurean husband) or maybe you’re used to getting what you want (hello, boardroom managers and Generation Y*).
Well, it’s simple. There are two of you in a marriage. Both have your own completely valid opinions, and both have your own ideas of what constitutes an ideal outcome to any given situation.
There is definitely an art to compromising. Remember—the very definition of the word means that you should both be happy with the end result. It doesn’t mean that someone constantly gets steamrolled into something they don’t want to do. And it doesn’t mean that you grudgingly give in to your partner and then resent them.
Compromise is not about winning or losing. It’s about workability. And it’s about caring about how your partner feels and wanting them to be satisfied, not debating a point for the sake of it.
You’re each entitled to your own opinions—about anything from whether to eat Thai food for dinner down to how your children should be educated. Which means you are also entitled to voice that opinion—ideally, in a calm and civil manner.
Giving your partner the silent treatment while secretly fuming is not productive. Not telling them what you want and then giving them the silent treatment is certainly not helping either.
Keep the lines of communication open and honest and make sure you both get heard. Remember to use “I” statements and not accusing “You” statements.
Pick your battles
Ask yourself: are you just arguing over the small stuff through force of habit? Does it really matter whether your underwear gets folded a certain way? (Something I compromised on years ago after I realised my very particular husband likes things done the way he likes them done and that my sub-standard underwear-rolling was upsetting him. True story.)
Save yourself for the things that you really do care about.
Be sure you’re square
If you have to debate the pros and cons, make lists, or hash it out over a few sessions, do that. But regardless of how long it takes you, make sure you’re both happy and there’s no resentment lingering once you’ve made a decision. Be clear to your partner that you want them to be happy. They should want the same for you.
What do you think about compromise? Are you good at it? Any tips to share?
*I myself am a Generation Y, so please don’t think I’m Gen-Y-bashing! You know as well as I do that we’re used to the good life.