How To Compromise In A Relationship

How To Compromise In A Relationship

Today, I will be discussing how to compromise in a relationship. Compromise holds significant importance and often proves to be a major challenge for couples. In this article, I'll explore the appropriate circumstances for compromise, as well as how to effectively engage in it.

 5 Steps To Compromise In Your Relationship

Number one: Understand the concept of compromising.

First, let us establish what constitutes a compromise. By definition, a compromise occurs when both partners forego obtaining their desired outcomes. If one partner achieves 100% of their desires, it cannot be considered a compromise. Thus, we can understand a compromise as a situation where neither partner attains complete fulfillment of their wishes, indicating that they have both shifted their original positions to some extent to meet halfway. This serves as a reliable indicator that a compromise has been reached.

Number two: Identify the challenges that hinder compromise.

The answer to this question is multifaceted, as there are numerous factors that can hinder the ability to compromise. For instance, individuals who grew up as only children never had to share or take turns growing up. As a result, they may struggle sharing power and compromising in marriage because they are used to having things their way.

Another example is kids who had considerable freedom and flexibility during childhood. They were allowed to come and go as they pleased and make their own decisions. As a result, they may struggle sharing power and compromising in marriage because they are used to doing things their way.

My wife was an only child and I was raised by a lenient parent so both of us have struggled sharing power and compromising in our marriage. To what extent has your upbringing influenced your ability to share power and collaborate with your partner?

Also, if you were raised in a strict household where following orders was the norm, you may find yourself yielding power too readily in your relationship, as your voice and individuality were suppressed during your formative years. This illustrates yet another way in which our upbringing can shape our tendencies and impact our ability to compromise.

Number three: Recognize the negative effects of a lack of compromise.

When one or both partners feel voiceless, it often leads to harsher conflicts and less sex. This correlation is understandable because the negative feelings stemming from a lack of influence in the relationship can create a hostile atmosphere toward one's partner. Naturally, as humans, we all desire to have a voice, autonomy, and the ability to exert influence on our surroundings, relationships, and partners. When this voice feels suppressed or ignored, we suffer. Our well-being is compromised, and we may experience a sense of stagnation and loss of self. Consequently, these unresolved feelings manifest in explosive conflicts and a decline in intimacy. None of us want to feel voiceless. Instead, we yearn for relationships where our thoughts and opinions matter, where we are genuinely heard, and where our influence on our partner is felt.

Both my wife and I have grappled with this issue in different aspects of our marriage. There have been instances where she exhibited strong-willed behavior and was unwilling to compromise and I remember how powerless I felt on the other side of her. Similarly, there have been times when I, too, resisted yielding and pursued my own desires regardless of her opinions and emotions. We are both guilty of lacking compromise, and it has been a significant area of personal growth for us. It is an easy trap to fall into. However, through intentional effort and a commitment to improvement, my wife and I have worked on this aspect of our relationship and have made notable progress. We now utilize the phrase, "I don't feel like we're sharing power," when either of us start feeling voiceless.

Number four: Determine when it is appropriate to compromise.

Compromise is necessary whenever a decision has the potential to impact your relationship. This encompasses a wide range of choices, spanning from parenting approaches, dinner selections, household temperature preferences, frequency of intimacy, financial matters, and countless other micro and macro decisions that arise within a long-term relationship. Virtually all of these decisions have some form of impact on both partners. Therefore, the answer to the question of when it is acceptable to compromise is quite simple: it is not just acceptable, but highly recommended to compromise on any decision that affects both you and your partner.

There may be certain areas in your relationship where you genuinely do not have a strong preference to a specific decision. In such cases, it is acceptable to defer to your partner's judgment, as long as you are not suppressing your true feelings or desires. Similarly, it is crucial that your partner reciprocates by deferring to your opinion in other areas. The ultimate goal is for both partners to feel a sense of equality and influence within the relationship. It is essential that you both go to bed each night, knowing that you have an equal voice, that you can impact your partner, and that your opinions hold value. 

Number five: Embrace effective strategies for compromising.

I have developed a tool called "Bounce the Ball" to facilitate this process. Let's draw an analogy from sports. In sports, nobody likes a ball hog. A ball hog is someone who dribbles down the court without passing and takes every shot. This behavior is frowned upon because it doesn't demonstrate teamwork. That's why many coaches enforce rules that require the ball to be passed several times before a shot can be taken. Similarly, in your marriage, you become a ball hog if you solely announce your decision without considering your partner's input. It is important to ask your partner questions like "What do you think?" "What are your thoughts?" or "How do you feel about this?" to invite them into the discussion and foster a sense of teamwork. Remember, you are a couple, a unit, and a team.

Now, let's explore the "Bounce the Ball" approach. Partner A will express their opinion on a topic and share the values underlying their perspective. Then, they metaphorically bounce the ball to their partner by asking, "What do you think?" Next, Partner B follows the same process. They share their opinion, articulate their values underlying it, and bounce the ball back by asking their partner, "What do you think?" Now, Partner A needs to adjust their initial position by a few degrees toward Partner B and offer a compromise. Then, they bounce the ball back, saying, "What do you think?" Partner B mirrors this process by adjusting their initial stance by a few degrees, suggesting a compromise, and bouncing the ball back with the same question: "What do you think?" This marks the beginning of the negotiation process.

Because the ball keeps going back and forth, both partners have the opportunity to accept the compromise if they are comfortable with it or offer a counter-proposal that moves a little closer to their partner's position. If both partners possess a flexible mindset, a willingness to learn, and a commitment to being team players with equal voices, the "Bounce the Ball" method can be effective. Remember, compromise occurs when neither partner achieves exactly what they initially desired.

In summary, consider these five steps when wondering how to compromise in a relationship. 
1. Understand the concept of compromising.
2. Identify the challenges that hinder compromise.
3. Recognize the negative effects of a lack of compromise.
4. Determine when it is appropriate to compromise.
5. Embrace effective strategies for compromising.

By following these steps, you can navigate the path of compromise in your relationship and foster a collaborative and harmonious partnership.

For further reading see below.

Marriage Teamwork

Partnership in Marriage

Dr. Wyatt Fisher

Receive my FREE PDF on 4 Steps To Better Communication. Click here to get it! 

What else you would recommend on how to compromise in a relationship? 

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HI Mariah, the same principles apply. Any issue where you don’t see eye to eye, share both of your opinions, the values that drive those opinions, then seek a compromise that will honor both of your values on the topic.

Dr. Wyatt

How about a blended relationship where each other have children/ grandchildren but one’s family lives next door literally a few yards away but the other’s family lives 2-3 hrs away? How to compromise so the one who’s family is not near can get quality time w them family members?


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