There are three points I want to address regarding compromise. The first is the importance of self-care. I do not recommend an individual compromise their own wellbeing just to appease their partner. A healthy marriage requires two relatively healthy individuals. In order to be healthy individuals we need to do things to take care of ourselves. I refer to this practice as self-care. If we are doing things on a daily or weekly basis that is for our own physical and mental health then it can be very healthy and productive to compromise. If we are not taking care of ourselves we run the risk of compromising ourselves into a bad place.
My wife and I compromise fairly well, but we also fight for our individual need for self-care. It is an ongoing negotiation for who gets a particular morning to exercise or who gets Saturday morning to themselves. If my wife needs a message then we try to make it happen by finding compromise in our schedules. Her physical and emotional wellbeing are very important for the health of our marriage and our home. We’ve all heard the saying, “If momma bear isn’t happy then no one’s happy.” That certainly is the case in our home. Fight (respectively and lovingly of course) for your right to take care of yourself. Once you have reached a satisfactorily level of self-care then push yourself to compromise.
The second point to compromise is the importance of empathy. Empathy allows us to understand that our partner also has needs and wants. Reiterating the message above, if two individuals are taking care of themselves then it behooves the couple to compromise whenever possible. Showing empathy demonstrates to our spouse that they are important to us and that we are paying attention to how they feel. The likelihood of compromising drastically increases when we have a better understanding of how the other person feels.
The third and last point to compromise is the need for it to be reciprocal. If two people are empathetic to one another’s needs then compromise will be reciprocal. If the same person is the one compromising every time something is wrong. There are some relationships where the couple has fallen into a pattern of one partner making all the decisions and the other partner submitting. This isn’t necessarily bad, but most of the time it is. It is not healthy for the same spouse to make all the decisions. This usually leads to the submitting spouse becoming detached or resentful, both of which are unhealthy. In addition, it is not healthy for any of us to get what we want every time. The practice of compromise is necessary for our own maturity.
Compromise can be very difficult for any relationship, but difficulty does not mean it is unhealthy. I encourage you to look for ways to compromise with your partner today and by doing so making an investment in your relationship and your future.
~ Josh Emery