In his teaching on Acts 21 today, my pastor said about verses 21-26 “we would rather walk in compromise than confront error”.
What Paul did in verse 26 was not wrong, but it failed to address a problem that he had been fighting for some time. Maybe he was tired of the battle, maybe he was trying a new tactic, but whatever the reason, it seems he compromised.
We do this all the time, including in our marriages. We don’t feel like dealing with something, so we compromise. We don’t want another argument, so we give in. We just want some peace, so we go along. What we do may not be wrong, but it fails to deal with an on-going issue that needs to be resolved.
While this may bring about temporary peace, it makes the problem worse because it looks like we do not really care. Putting something off tends to make it grow, and at the very least we weaken our “right” to complain. When we put up with something for a while, it becomes very difficult to say “No more”. Even if we do say “enough”, our past going along makes it look as if we have changed our mind and are now unhappy with something we once thought was okay.
The classic example of this is the man who says very little about sex being too infrequent. He does not want to be “that guy”, or he feels guilty, or he does not want the fight. Maybe he brought it up in the past and got an earful, or the silent treatment, so he stopped mentioning it. He may make little comments to hint he is unhappy, but he does not directly address the issue.
Then, after months or years, he “suddenly” tells his wife he has had it and he wants more sex. Aside from the fact that he has prolonged the problem, he has given his wife good reason to think he is okay with their sex life. He may argue she should have known, or did know, but his silence speaks loudly. He has given her a reason to ignore his complaint, and even if she decides to change, it is now a long-term habit, which is difficult to change.
Of course, this happens in many areas of marriage. Sometimes the issue seems minor because it happens only rarely. Other times it is minor next to bigger problems, so it gets ignored. Sometimes the irritation level grows over time, so something that was not a big deal becomes a problem.
If you decide to discuss something you have been compromising on or ignoring, I think it is a good plan to address why you are doing that after ignoring it or going along.