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 he’d 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 these kinds of compromises may bring about temporary peace, it makes the problem worse because it looks like we don’t 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 difficult to say “No more”. Even if we do say “enough”, our past going along makes it look as if we’ve 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 doesn’t want to be “that guy”, or he feels guilty, or he doesn’t want the fight. Maybe he brought it up in the past and got an earful, or the silent treatment, or even less sex, so he stopped mentioning it. He may make little comments to hint he’s unhappy, but he doesn’t directly address the issue.
Then, after months or years, he “suddenly” tells his wife he’s had it and he wants more sex. Aside from the fact he’s prolonged the problem, he’s given his wife good reason to think he’s okay with their sex life. He may argue she should have known, or did know, but his silence speaks loudly. He’s given her a reason to ignore his complaint. Even if she decides to change, it’s now a long-term habit, making it more difficult to change.
Of course, this happens in many areas of marriage. Sometimes the issue seems minor because it happens rarely. Other times it’s minor next to bigger problems, so it gets ignored. Sometimes the irritation level grows over time and something that was no big deal becomes a problem.
If you decide to discuss something you’ve been compromising on or ignoring, I think it’s a good plan to address why you’re doing it now after ignoring it or going along.