Being able to make healthy compromises is at the core of many successful relationships. No couple will agree on every single issue, every single time. But many times, compromising is seen as being passive or weak in the balance of power of the relationship. While everyone has their limits, learning to compromise in a relationship is an important way to show your partner that you care about his or her feelings, create open communication in the relationship and figure out each other’s priorities regarding decision-making. Healthy compromise does not mean that you have to give up your core values and beliefs, or allow your partner to make every decision on your behalf. There is a fine line between being in a controlling relationship and having balanced compromise when it is appropriate.
Smaller issues are, in many cases, much easier for couples to compromise on. Chores, television shows, tastes in music, food choices (excluding dietary restrictions): these are issues that have little or no lasting impact on your life or relationship, and this makes it easier for us to be comfortable giving a little without feeling as though there could be negative consequences as a result of making a compromise.
If both you and your significant other absolutely hate taking out the trash, you simply take turns. If you love reality television (read: The Bachelor) and your partner is a basketball fanatic, you can make a bracket and watch March Madness together and your partner can watch the three-hour season finale of The Bachelor while you agonize over Nick’s life-choices. It’s a relatively painless way to get to know about your significant other’s interests, and it shows them that you really care and want to learn about the things that he/she likes. This can make you two closer and help you to bond as a couple.
However, not all issues are as simple as evening television or basic household chores. Issues can come up with money, life plans and differences in ideology among other things. These are often more challenging for us to compromise on, as these are things we take more seriously and they can often have lasting impacts on our lives. Here are three reminders for couples to help them find ways to compromise on bigger issues in their lives:
1. Always respect your partner.
It may seem obvious, but since everyone has a unique background and story, it’s important to be respectful of where your partner is coming from when it comes to big decisions during your relationship. Your partner may have valid reasons for wanting to save money very early on, or raise future children in a certain way. It’s important to hear him/her out and think about how your reaction will impact your partner’s feelings.
2. Have clear priorities.
Often, couples are able to compromise by taking time to understand each other’s priorities. If you are most concerned about financial planning and spending habits, but your partner is most concerned about how to raise children, take that into account. Being able to make decisions about the things that matter most to us can help us to see the benefit of allowing our partner to do the same.
3. Remember why you love your partner.
If all else fails, and you truly cannot come to a compromise, don’t allow yourself to get frustrated too easily. You will find ways to make things work because you and your significant other care for each other and respect each other’s life experiences and feelings. You are together for a reason, and differences in opinion shouldn’t be serious enough to change how you feel about your partner as a person.