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At one point or another, most of us have heard it argued that compromise is the key to happy and healthy relationships. It is, of course, true, that relationships, both personal and professional, require certain amounts of “give and take.” That being said, reaching a satisfying compromise is rarely an easy task! What may, on the surface, seem like a happy compromise may lead to bitterness or resentment if one party feels that they’re actually making a major sacrifice, rather than meeting their partner in the middle.
The next time you find yourself negotiating with a romantic partner, keep these points in mind. By doing so, you’ll be more likely to find a win-win solution that leaves both you and your partner feeling content.
Listen & Learn When to Let Things Go
Are you someone who loves being right? If so, you should try breaking this bad habit! Instead of maintaining a fight simply because you’re “in too deep,” work on really listening to your partner. Hear your partner out. What are they really saying? When we truly listen to someone’s perspective and strive to understand where they’re coming from, we’ll be much more likely to have sympathy for their viewpoint. Keep an open mind and strive to be flexible in your understanding of the situation at hand. Acknowledge your partner’s perspective and show respect and appreciation for their candidness and willingness to negotiate. Instead of seeing the situation as “either-or,” in which one partner mostly gets their way, try to come up with various possible solutions to the problem. Is getting your way really so important? Has your perspective changed as a result of listening to your partner’s views? By being flexible and willing to achieve a fair and balance compromise, you and your partner can find a solution that leaves you both feeling heard and respected.
Take Your Time
Reaching a compromise shouldn’t be rushed. When a disagreement first arises, emotions will likely be running high. Don’t fight in the heat of the moment. Instead, wait until both you and your partner have thought things through. Are you both in a place where you can discuss things openly, without yelling or getting upset? Do you know what you really want, and what you can be flexible on? If you’ve thought things through and can argue your case in a calm and reasonable manner, you’re ready to start negotiating.
Focus on Important Issues
When reaching compromises, it’s important to evaluate the importance of what you’re fighting for. Certain subjects, for instance, often require compromise. Being unwilling to understand and meet your partner’s needs regarding physical and emotional intimacy, for instance, can quickly destroy your relationship. Are you a person who needs to be physically intimate multiple times a week? Does your partner need to hear “I love you,” more often? If either partner is feeling rejected, the issues need to be discussed.
There are a handful of important issues that will likely require some amount of compromise in your relationship. If one of you is a big spender and the other prefers to save, you will need to find common ground regarding your financial planning. Your relationships with your families may need to be discussed, particularly if either partner has less-than-ideal relationships with their family or in-laws. If you and your partner have different hobbies, consider finding ways in which you can either share in each other’s interests or split up to enjoy your favorite activities. Certain habits, such as being highly punctual or perpetually late, can also lead to contention if left unresolved. Make sure to discuss these issues with your partner.
Remember, however, that some things ought to remain non-negotiable. Your dreams and life goals, for instance, shouldn’t be thrown away for the sake of your relationship. You shouldn’t compromise your self-worth and the treatment you’re willing to accept from a partner. No one should feel obligated to cut off contact with friends or family members for the sake of a partner, either, unless you’ve mutually recognized that such connections are toxic to you both. In short, it is important to compromise regarding certain issues. Your identity and values, however, should never be sacrificed.
Determine Whether You’re Reaching a Compromise or Making a Sacrifice
While working through the process of achieving a compromise, it is important to evaluate the potential solutions you’re working towards. A genuine compromise will be problem-solving in nature. Both parties will be meeting one another halfway. If you or your partner feel like you’re simply “giving in” to save the relationship, you’re probably making a sacrifice, rather than reaching a true compromise. Sacrifices, though sometimes necessary, often damage relationships in the long run, leading to bitterness and resentment. Are you feeling as though your innermost emotions are being suppressed by this decision? Will this short-term solution lead to long-term unhappiness? If you or your partner are already feeling bitter or defeated, you need to find another solution to your problem.
When discussing the situation, consider talking through the following points. What would you both ideally want in a “no compromise” situation? How does this potential compromise make you feel? What makes you feel bad about this solution? What makes you feel good about this solution? Strive to vocalize your wants and needs clearly and rationally. By ensuring that neither you nor your partner are sacrificing your happiness for the sake of your relationship, you can find a solution that will ultimately lead to you growing together, rather than apart.
Honor Your Authentic Self
After you and your partner feel you’ve found a balanced solution to your problem, take some time to reflect on how the decision has made you feel. Do you still feel like yourself? Do you feel as though this compromise is a reasonable one, or do you feel as though you’ve been sacrificing too much for the sake of holding your relationship together? Are you still living a life that you love, or have you given up critical parts of your own identity for the sake of your partner?Ultimately, it is important to remember that a healthy compromise will honor your authentic self. Though compromise is generally uncomfortable for both parties, you and your partner should feel, in the long term, as though your relationship has grown from the experience. Have you learned to be more open with your partner as a result of reaching this compromise? Do you feel more connected as a result of your negotiations? The best compromises will ultimately benefit your relationship while honoring the identities of both partners. Reaching a compromise that honors your authentic self will benefit you as an individual and in the context of your relationship.
Reaching satisfying compromises, particularly when major issues are involved, can be truly challenging. If you and your partner have tried to work things out but are still struggling to find common ground, don’t be afraid to seek out an outside opinion. Sometimes, the insight of a couples’ therapist can help resolve relationships stalemates. Getting a second opinion on a given issue can lead to more fair and balanced compromises, helping you and your partner advance in your relationship. Doing so is sure to lead to a happier and healthier future for all.
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