Compromise: an agreement or a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions.
Think about the idea of compromise for a minute. What role does it play in your relationships? Do you compromise more than another? Does someone else? Is it pretty balanced? Or does it fluctuate?
Sometimes people dig their heels in until the other person, cries, blows up, or storms out of the room. There is a myriad of choices available to us when we think about ways to compromise… and ways to avoid compromise.
Someone can give in to another out of fear or exhaustion (or both). Someone can try to dominate or intimidate or manipulate. Usually, we feel better in our relationships when we find a middle ground.
However you decide to effect your compromise, it is most successful (and feels best) when it doesn’t include sulking, withdrawing, or harboring resentment against the other. If these things are happening, it probably means someone is not being completely honest with themselves about how they feel. When you compromise, it’s not so that either of you has something over the other; that’s not a genuine compromise.
The art of compromise takes willingness, openness, and trust. Making situational concessions within a relationship feels safer when these things have been built into your foundation. Interesting- when we compromise in a relationship with willingness, trust, and openness, we also solidify and strengthen these characteristics. And the more they solidify and strengthen, the less the act of compromise is perceived as a threat.
Here are some questions to think about:
1) *Mostly, we make decisions using arguments and yelling. (Yes/N0)
2) Often, I am/we are satisfied with how we resolve our differences. (Yes/No)
3) *I am/ my partner is incredibly stubborn. (Yes/No)
4) I believe/we believe that it is important to share power in a relationship. (Yes/No)
5) I am/they can relinquish partial control when I/they feel strongly about a particular issue. (Yes/No)
6) When we talk through the issue, we can usually find our middle ground. (Yes/No)
7) *One of us usually gives in to the other. We call that compromise. (Yes/No)
8) *If I give in, they do, too. (Yes/No)
9) *After compromising, one or both of us is left holding resentments. (Yes/No)
10) Each of us believes in meeting the other person where they are when we are working toward compromise. (Yes/No)
So, anything come up? If you answered “yes” to one or two of the questions with asterisks, you could probably use some other strategies when reaching a compromise. If you answered “yes” to three or more of the questions with asterisks, you could use some more strategies. If you answered “no” to any of the questions without asterisks, I would love to talk with you about ways that we can fortify your compromise skills.
Compromising isn’t easy, and there are times when we just don’t see any concessions we are willing to make. It doesn’t mean that you’re ill-matched or that you’re headed for divorce. It does say that you need to examine important characteristics, dynamics and wounds in (and sometimes outside of) the relationship. Let’s see what we can do.
Love and Be Loved,