So many couples today still view the term “compromise” as if it were the same as one of those nasty four-letter words. To them, compromising means to “give in” to someone else’s wants — even if theoretically the idea is to meet in the middle. No one wins with compromise. Inevitably, someone will always get the short end of the stick.
That couldn’t be further from the truth. Unless you’re making a moral compromise. Relational compromise — especially when trying to resolve conflict in a healthy way — is usually very positive.
“Compromise is not about losing. It is about deciding that the other person has just as
much right to be happy with the end result as you do.” — Donna Martini
Compromise is defined as an agreement or a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions that are acceptable to both parties. And if the husband and wife approach compromising the right way, it becomes a win-win for both. It’s where you both feel good about what you’ve decided to do or how you’ve handled something.
THREE Types of Compromise
- Meeting in the middle (we all know this one)
- Your spouse gets more of their way, and … yes …
- You are getting more of your way
Are your differences negatively affecting your marriage?
The key here is how you view compromise. If you have a positive attitude toward compromise and are willing to give up individual gain for the gain of the relationship, compromising won’t be such a bad thing after all.
Three Types of Compromise-Deeper Dive
- Mathematical compromise — This comes into play when dealing with issues that involve something quantifiable. In other words, how much or how often something happens. This is also typically where people meet in the middle.
For example: Jane wants to spend $50 of their monthly $200 excess and save $150. Joe wants to spend $150 and save $50. A good compromise would be $100 to spend and $100 to save! In this scenario, they meet in the middle, as both give up some without feeling like they’ve given away the farm. Another example: Jane wants to make love four times per week, but Joe wants twice. A healthy compromise is three per week.
- Relational compromise — This is what we discussed earlier. Each of us gives up individual gain for the gain of the relationship. Happiness comes from combining our individual happiness to ensure the relationship is happy.
For example: Jane likes to eat Chinese food when she is alone. When Joe is by himself, he loves to eat Italian. As a couple, when they’re together, they choose Mexican food. When they are together, they make the choice to forego their favorite food, so they both can enjoy their dinner together.
- Trading off or making exchanges — This is when you take turns or make an exchange. Essentially, you both get your way (but not necessarily at the same time or in the same circumstance or event).
For example: Taking turns would be if your wife says, “I’ll give the kids their bath this week if you do it next week.” In another scenario, you might say, “I’ll pick the kids up from soccer if you will take them” or, “You watch your TV show now, but I get to watch mine later.” Conversely, an exchange might look something like this: “I’ll make dinner and clean up if you give the kids their bath.” It could also mean: “I’ll go to an occasional football game without complaining if you will go shopping with me occasionally” or, “You go to my parents at Christmas, and I will bowl with you in your league.” Both spouses give something important to the other and receive from them. Both can feel they are putting forth effort and grace toward each other.
Do you see how each of those works? Any form of compromise allows two people — each with different interests, values, and desires — to live their lives together as a couple more harmoniously.
All we are saying here is that while compromising isn’t a perfect solution, it isn’t about “giving up” or “losing” as much as it is, “I want to make our relationship great. And because of that, it means I want to please you, which means I’m not perfectly pleased all the time.” And that should be okay because you love that person and want to make them happy.
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Did we leave anything out? How are you and your spouse learning to compromise with each other? Do you welcome those differences, and are you focusing on what’s best for your marriage? If not, how do you plan to fix it? Please send us a quick email and help us keep this conversation going at Mike@MikeandSusanDawson.com.