“Compromise is the key to a healthy marriage.”
What if I told you compromising can be damaging your relationship?
Another word for compromise is “negotiation.” When we enter a negotiation, the goal is to give up as little as possible as we try to get as much as we can. Skilled negotiators know exactly what they are willing to give up in order to get what they want. What we are willing to sacrifice usually doesn’t matter that much to us anyway. When we compromise or negotiate, we always enter an adversarial, or a “you against me” environment. How can this be healthy for a relationship?
In my own marriage, and working with countless couples, there have been times where one person thinks,
“I lost" ... “I always give in” ... or “you always win.”
Over time, this can create a competitive spirit between a husband and wife, or even build resentment. Neither option is healthy for marriage.
So what is the alternative to compromise?
Instead of asking what do I want and what am I willing to give up to get it, what if couples asked, “What do we believe?”
Early in my marriage, Kristen and I had differing views on money. I hated to spend any and my wife was … let’s say, more of a “free spirit” with finances. For me, money represented security. The more money I had in the bank, the more secure I felt. For Kristen, money represented opportunity to build memories and do exciting things.
As you can imagine, this lead to some heated negotiations. We came to a point where we said, “What do we believe about money?”
Here are a few things from our list:
Once we developed our beliefs, we were able to develop a plan. We felt empowered to make decisions from a position of common conviction rather than fighting for what we thought was the MOST important.
Making decisions from a common belief system builds teamwork in marriage and families. It changes the conversation from “what am I willing to give up to get what I really want,” and helps us to answer “what are WE willing to give to invest in the most important areas of our life and relationship?”
Are you ready to stop compromising?
Where do you and your spouse tend to have conflict? Take a few moments and identify what you are really fighting for. Then ask, "what do we believe about this area of our lives?"
It will take some practice, but keep practicing. It has the potential to transform your marriage.