Saturday, March 22, 2008

Compromise: lasting relationships take work

Yes, happily ever after can happen, however, it is not the blissful, magical experience described in fairy tales. In the real world, lasting relationships take work, and compromise is the key.

It is human nature to take more than you are willing to give. This must change as you grow and attempt to strengthen the bonds of your intimate relationships.

This is not to say that you must always be the one to give in. No one is suggesting that you become a doormat. That is why compromise works so well; it demands that both partners give something up in order to take something from the exchange.

Granted, there are situations where compromise is not appropriate, such as when abuse is occurring. If that is the case, there is no room for compromise. You do not owe an abusive person a thing. The best thing you can do is remove yourself from the situation and move on.

Concerning day-to-day problems, on the other hand, compromise can be a huge step toward improving a relationship. Ask yourself some tough questions, and answer honestly.

Are you able to admit that your way is not the only suitable way of doing things? Are you willing to give up part of what you want in order to make the situation bearable for your partner? If you are not willing to meet the other person half way then how can you expect that person to give up what they want for you?

Sometimes compromise takes on another form. It has to do with beliefs. Perhaps you vote differently than your significant other does, and you have strong feelings about your political beliefs. Most likely, neither of you will change the other person’s mind. This form of compromise is called “agreeing to disagree.”

It may sound like an easy solution, but it is not always that easy. You may claim that your partner’s beliefs do not bother you, but far too often, you really want to change your partner’s mind.

You probably think that if you can just help your loved one see the situation from your perspective, your partner will turn around. Unfortunately, that is unlikely to happen, and the two of you will probably continue to butt heads.

You know that nobody is going to convince you that your feelings are wrong, so stop trying to convince your partner. Once your partner knows exactly where you stand on a particular issue, end the discussion. Do not continue trying to force your opinion. Learn to respect your partner’s opinion (no matter how wrong you might feel it is) and try not to allow yourself to become angry or upset. Do not go back to arguing over an issue that the two of you will never agree on. Pick your battles, because there certainly will be others.

Working through disagreements and differing opinions can be frustrating, but if you really want the relationship to work, you will find a way. Hold true to what you believe in and do not ever give that up for anyone, but don’t expect anyone to give up their beliefs for you.

If you and your partner cannot compromise on an issue and it is something that defines your core values, you may have to re-think the relationship. Such a relationship will be fraught with problems and issues that cannot be resolved. Think in terms of marriage, lifetime commitment, and trying to raise children with two very different belief systems in place. Are you willing to work that hard?

In summary, there are situations in which no compromise is possible, but when compromise can provide a solution that is mutually beneficial, it is the best way to strengthen a relationship.

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