There once lived a boy (who will remain nameless) and a girl (that would be me) who fell madly in like. They connected on several subjects and shared common characteristics. They even had the same birthday. The two spent hours on the telephone, telling stories that dated back to their childhoods.
Then….. they discussed diets.
And that’s when they realized they weren’t exactly the same after all. The boy believed an organic, all natural lifestyle. He didn’t digest meat or dairy and never used toxic products. Since he was a health coach, he felt it was his job to “teach” her how to eat properly. The girl grew up in a family filled with entertainers. Many memories were made around the dinner table. And, the feasts featured foods that once clucked, mooed, gobbled or oinked. She wondered if he would get “eaten alive”, by her family, for his vegan views when he came to dinner in the future. And, she got annoyed when he tried to shove his food philosophy down her throat.
The boy insisted that their future child would grow up vegan. Before the baby was born (and even conceived for that matter), he wanted his offspring to come into the world at a birthing center. She was open to natural childbirth, but wouldn’t rule out an epidural if the pain progressed beyond what she could bear. She could give up pork and beef, but she didn’t see anything wrong with feeding her child chicken, turkey, fish or whatever she decided to cook for dinner. He said he cared about her health, but understood if she wouldn’t substitute tofu for turkey. They knew they had to compromise for the relationship to work.
She (I) learned a lot of valuable lessons about compromise:
Do Respect the Other Person’s Opinion
Just because you disagree doesn’t mean you can’t respect another opinion. Sometimes there’s not a wrong or a right perspective, just different views. So be open minded, open to dialogue, and open to finding a reasonable solution. Also, make sure you communicate clearly. Ask for clarification. And, repeat what you heard to make sure you’re not misinterpreting information. When you take emotion and anger out of the conversation, you may realize that you aren’t as opposite as you thought.
Do Think of Yourself as a Couple
When you think of yourself as a couple and not just individuals, you are more likely to weigh the pros and cons of a compromise. This allows you to see things from all sides and to pick your battles. It’s OK to give in to things such as turning off the television when your partner is on the phone or eating Italian when you really wanted Chinese. It won’t hurt you to watch your significant other’s favorite movie for the fifteenth time. Hey….it might even help you when you want to pick the next date night activity.
Don’t Compromise Your Non-Negotiable Issues
There are such things as bad compromises. Don’t change so radically that you can’t recognize who’s staring back at you when you look in the mirror. Are you still your true, authentic self? Will you still fulfill your God given purpose in life if you compromise on the matter? Remember, compromise is not sacrifice. Sacrifice is when you give up something you strongly believe in or who you are for the relationship. Sometimes sacrifice is substituted for compromise. A compromise should not make you feel like you have been taken advantage of or wronged. You shouldn’t be miserable to make the other person happy.
Don’t Bend to Avoid an Obvious Breakup
Bending too far will break your back and eventually your heart – - because you’re carrying the relationship. Don’t put up with someone emotionally, physically or verbally abusing you. Or, don’t turn a blind eye to your partner’s cheating ways. Don’t save a relationship that shouldn’t be saved. Compromising should stop when you are desperate to stay together in an unhealthy way. And don’t compromise to avoid an argument if you know you’ll change your mind next month, or next week!
BMWK – What are you willing to meet in the middle on? What won’t you budge on? What have you learned about compromise from your relationships?