I remember sitting in pre-marital counseling 20 years ago listening to the pastor go through all sorts of items before I got married the first time. I don’t remember too much, to be honest, but I do remember when he told us not to compromise in marriage.
He specifically said, “There is going to come a time where you cannot agree on what to do. Perhaps it is where to spend Christmas—you both want to spend it with your families, and can’t seem to come to a decision without erupting into argument. You know that if you pick one side over the other, one of you is not going to be happy. Maybe another time you both want to vacation in two different places. Or you want to attend two different churches. Whatever it is, my advice is NOT to compromise. Pick option C.”
To Compromise or Not to Compromise?
I remember leaving that meeting and both us were puzzled. My then-fiancé said, “He’s crazy. You always compromise.” I kind of chuckled. Of course you do, it is what you hear all the time growing up. Only, at just 20 years old, I didn’t get it. I didn’t get how I would continuously compromise myself in my marriage, relationships, jobs…you name it. I never seemed to do what I wanted, always compromising for the greater good. Though often it was not good for me.
Fast-forward 20 years later and my new husband and I are sitting at a restaurant after two full days of land-hunting in Florida. We had narrowed nearly 30 properties down to just a handful. He loved one, and I loved another. He looked at me and said, “So, what do we want to do?” Right then, that moment from pre-marriage counseling popped into my brain. I knew the answer—I told him that we don’t compromise. We pick neither. We find something that we both equally love.
Now, because my husband is amazing, he said he had no issue with the one I loved, except the price. So if we could get them down, then we would do that one. As we put in the offer, I felt uneasy.
Even though we put in a much lower offer, it was still at the top of the budget and I knew he was compromising for me. I remember praying over it—I told God that if this was not the right one for us, to shut that door and point clearly to the right door for us. When that offer was not accepted, we went back to the drawing board.
As we revisited the top properties, we found ourselves looking at a property that was low on the list. It wasn’t perfect at first glance, but as we analyzed it further, we knew this one was it. This time, when they countered, we matched it. Option C, the one without personal compromise, was the clear winner.
While I didn’t realize it until that day when we were deciding about what to do, was that compromise is ingrained into us. We are always told to compromise because you can’t always agree. While this is true to a point, some of us have taken it too far, compromising ourselves for the sake of others. For me, this led to me leading a life that I had not intended.
Early on my path through school and my first jobs were a response to compromise. I took the path that made others happy. I was not UNhappy, but I sure wasn’t where I was supposed to be. I continued to compromise my personal happiness, my feelings, and my actions for the sake of others’ happiness.
I have spent the last few years untangling myself from the compromises of the past, though I didn’t realize it until this moment. Instead, I have made decisions that made other people question everything I have done from career moves, educational goals, relationships, and even forming personal boundaries for the first time.
Compromise in Marriage Should Mean Mutual Satisfaction
Compromise in marriage sometimes has its place. Sometimes keeping the peace is necessary. However, I would argue that in your personal relationships that compromising should be an absolute last-ditch effort and should not always fall to one person to do the compromising. Instead, both people should have the same goal—mutual satisfaction instead of one sacrificing for the other.
Sometimes option C can be hard to locate. If you cannot decide on whose family to visit for Christmas, maybe decide to host Christmas at your home and invite both sides to come see you. When you have two different ideas for vacation—ditch them both and look for another option. Can’t decide between churches? Visit a few more to see if you can find one you can both agree on.
Avoid the possible resentment that may build from one person “winning” out over the other. Besides, as we began to plan our life on “option C”, we have seen so clearly why this was the one. We picked each other over ourselves and that is a great place to start.
Want more tips for a strong marriage? Listen to this podcast episode now: 9 Principles to Build a Strong Marriage (Even Through the Storms) – 225