How to Create a Healthy Relationship Through Compromise

Let’s face it. Compromising sucks. I don’t know about you, but I get tired of always having to work things out. Sometimes I just want what I want and I don’t want to have to NEGOTIATE about it. But I KNOW!!! If I were to stomp around making demands for what I want all the time, others wouldn’t like me very much. And eventually, I probably would end up alone.

So (sigh) compromise it is……

And really, the more I work at compromising, and work with couples to help them compromise, the more I recognize what a valuable skill it is. Compromise doesn’t have to be something you dread, or feel like you’re sacrificing something important.

Instead, it can mean that you are creating something bigger and more meaningful than if you were only focused on yourself. Those of you who have perfected the skill of compromise recognize this. You know that negotiating your own needs with the needs of your spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend can actually lead to bigger “wins” than if you just plow ahead saying, “me, me, me.” So how do you do it, those of you who have these skills? Let’s look more closely at what it takes….

  1. Each of you knows why what you want is important to you and is able to communicate clearly about those values
    1. Saying you don’t want to go to sushi “just cause” holds far less weight than if you are able to explain that you feel traumatized by sushi because your mom made you eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner all throughout your childhood!
  2. Each of you respects the other’s values, needs, and rights
    1. Even though your desire to watch “The Wire” is CLEARLY the better choice, you recognize that “New Girl” has some merits as well
  3. You recognize that compromise is not about one person losing/one person winning or about both of you losing – rather, you aim to make it about both of you winning
    1. “How can we make it so that I can play basketball with my friends AND you can do your glass-blowing?” “You might have to play at 10 PM and I’ll get up at 6 AM on Saturdays to go make glass, but I think we can make it work!! Woohoo, we figured it out!”
  4. You are willing to be creative, look at many different options, and give up some things – however, you don’t compromise on your most important values (eg, doing things that go against your fundamental beliefs or that might feel hurtful or harmful)
    1. In your sexual relationship: “I think I could try playing with you in THESE ways, but I’m not comfortable being touched like THAT – that’s a no go area!”
  5. You don’t hold resentment about the compromises you made, or if resentment does come up, you address it openly and directly
    1. “Dang, I liked that compromise we made about taking care of the kids, but here I am still feeling resentful of you…..” “No worries, let’s see if we can come up with a new plan!”

So what is your assessment of your own ability to compromise? Do you have it down? Or could it use some work? If you’re like most of us, it can never hurt to focus on these skills a bit more. The ability to effectively compromise will not only help you in your intimate/romantic relationship, but in all your relationships: friendships, family members, and co-workers.

Please contact us or schedule an appointment if you have a specific problem that you need some help working through or if you would just like to focus on your compromise skills in general. We’re here to help!