Compromise – virtue, necessary evil, or to be avoided?

Neither is happy © Xalanx |
Equally dissatisfied = success??

This post comes as a result of a comment to a post I made back in June. and will echo what Cory Allan said in his great post Warning: Compromising In Your Marriage May Ruin It (now removed, sorry). When I read that post I found myself saying “Yes, exactly, amen!” to my computer screen.

It seems to me that compromise is the art of making both sides equally unhappy with the settlement they reach. While the “equal” part of that is good, the unhappy is not. Maybe it works for countries (at least for a time) but I’ve never seen compromise bring about real détente in marriage.

The more you compromise, the less each of you will have to feel good about. Unless knowing she is no happier than you are makes you happy (and if it does, you need to deal with that) how can compromise really help? If everything in your marriage is short of what you want, what you desire, what you need, how can you feel good about your marriage?

Rather than compromise, I suggest give and take – but let’s call it give and receive. In some areas you give her exactly what she wants, and in other areas she gives you exactly what you want – or at least very close to what you each want. When you give in this way it’s because you love her, rather than the “best I can get” motivation of compromise. When you receive in this way, you receive from her the gift of what you want, rather than the concession of the best to which she will agree. In my mind both of these are better than what we get out of compromise.

Part of what makes this work is that some of what is very important to you is less important to her, and visa-verse. You give up something of low or medium importance here, and you get something of high importance there – it’s a win-win.

The difficulty comes when you both feel strongly about an issue. But even here you can give and receive. Giver her what she wants as completely as possible this time, and let her do the same for you the next time.

The one place this does not work well is in situations where there is a significant frequency difference. But for many other situations give and receive is far better for everyone than compromise.

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