Why I dislike compromise

Jeffrey felt proud to tell me that relationships are built on compromise and that he is a man a woman can count on, to make the necessary sacrifices for love.

“If compromise works so well, why aren’t the two of you enjoying each other more?” I asked him.

“Well, great question,” he said. “I guess we need to do more of it?”

“Or, maybe it’s time to rethink the compromise dynamic,” I told him.

I think what most of us mean when we refer to “compromise” is: “You scratch my back. I’ll scratch yours.”  We view compromise as a system of give and take, fairness and balance.

But for too many people, it’s a setup for competitiveness, score-keeping and resentment.

I think what most of us really want is higher-level than this. We want to rise above fear and pettiness, and trust each other to provide.

My client Jeffrey tells me that he needs to workout to feel good. But every workout he does comes with a price. If he goes running in the morning, he gets saddled with cooking in the evening or bathing the kids — so that his wife, Lisa, feels that their sacrifices are equal.

Jeffrey requires the same of Lisa. If she goes out with friends in the evening, he insists on a Saturday morning to go for a bike ride and that she takes the kids.

Getting what they want or need is always a negotiation.

There’s nothing wrong with operating as a team to get tasks done or to give each other needed space or rest, unless it functions as a competition that degrades the quality of your loving and intimacy.

I’d like to suggest that there is another way, which rises above compromise and score-keeping — that is centered on good will.

What you want to do is focus on the highest good for each of you, and of the relationship. (This will take practice).

And, it will change how you hold each other’s needs.

In other words, what is good for one, is good for all, and for the whole.

If your partner needs a day of rest, instead of framing it as taking something away from you or a plot to burden you with more work, you embrace it as her getting what she needs (for her highest good) and see it as benefitting the whole that she will be rested.

She holds you and your needs in the same way.

If each partner stands for their own highest good, their partner’s highest good, and the highest good of the relationship, the balance of giving and taking is naturally there.

Of course, you need to be on the same page about this for it to work.

Your thoughts? What is the role of compromise for you? Does it work? Does this model appeal to you, inspire you?

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