The Fine Art of Compromise

Tue, 06/26/2012 - 09:33 -- jcartwright

A compromise, it has been well defined, is the result of negotiations leaving everyone equally unhappy. This is cynical, but it does have some truth to it. The point of compromise is equality, equality of suffering or, more hopefully, equality of happiness. We may not always want to compromise, but for durable relationships we must. Unfortunately, compromise is not as easy as it seems. Compromise is an art. What is good compromise? What is bad compromise? How do we compromise? Let’s consider the first two questions.

Compromise: the Bad

After having admitted that compromise in general is a good thing, it needs to be said that not all compromise is good. You can compromise badly, and you usually do this in one of two ways: you compromise too much or compromise where you should not compromise. Starting with the first, you compromise too much if, simply put, anytime there’s a problem or a difference of opinion your first reaction is to compromise, that is, to be content with less. You deserve a little something too and constant compromise in favour of your significant other is, long term, not good for either of you (and it certainly doesn’t help the relationship).

The second way you can compromise badly is the more interesting and is the natural complement of good compromise. This sort of bad compromise is the result of compromising your values. There’s a difference between being to submissive (the first sort of bad compromise) and being willing to compromise on things you really care about in order to satisfy someone, or conform to what another person thinks is best. This is always bad compromise.

Compromise: the Good

Good compromise is compromise that either A strengthens the relationship, in no matter how small a way, or B strengthens you. The first kind is little compromise. You want to mow the lawn, but she wants to watch her show. The lawn can wait. She’s on the phone, you turn down the music. These are easy compromises and necessary for a healthy relationship, even though we dislike making them. The second type of compromise is when you use your relationship as an opportunity to grow as a person. You find a new way to do things without compromising, as mentioned above, on your convictions. You find a new way to do things differently and still be happy with yourself. This is the best sort of compromise.

Compromise: How

It’s as easy as being aware. All it takes is a little conscience of more than yourself. Pay attention and if you need clarification ask. Talk things over, communication is the key (which is not something everybody says for no reason). But always remember what things are truly important to you; be clear about what is open to compromise and what is not from the start. Otherwise you may find yourself giving up things that matter to you. But most of all remember, compromise is the key to a healthy relationship!

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James Cartwright

Just like to write about sex and relationships!