Today’s Dance: Intimate Compromise

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The world walks by as the sun sets in the west. (Photo credit: Photosightfaces)


One of the most important pieces of ‘glue’ in most intimate partnerships is the ability to compromise. With this, of course, comes the ability to recognize core values too important to compromise.

Husband and I have been together for over seventeen years, married for fifteen of those. In those years we have had several epic disagreements, the most public of which has been over gun ownership (our own, not the political battle). We have (so far) gotten through all of them with our relationship intact, and usually stronger for the discussion of the issue.

I can’t tell you who has ‘won’ most of those arguments. To be honest, most of them probably ended with each of us giving a little to reach a happy medium, but some ended just because the argument was more trouble than it was worth.

Too many people have been taught (thanks, Ayn Rand) that compromise is an ‘evil’ that takes something valuable away from the person who makes it. In fact, most of the time, the middle position between the initial positions turns into a ‘sweet spot’ that has benefits for both people that they hadn’t anticipated.

Sometimes, however, the values over which you disagree are too important to compromise, including violence in the relationship, addiction, adultery, or safety issues that affect not only the two of you but your children as well.

And now, to the dance:

  • What was the last major issue you and your partner strongly disagreed over? Were you able to find a compromise position? Was that position ultimately a ‘sweet spot’ or did further negotiation and compromise happen over time?
  • Do you see a difference between compromising on a principle and compromising on specifics? For instance, suppose that ‘daily writing time’ is an essential thing for you. Can you compromise on what time of day and how long that writing time is, or is that also ‘set in stone’? Why or why not?
  • Have you ever seriously regretted a compromise? Can you go back and revisit it now? Why or why not?
  • Have you ever made a compromise that turned out to be better for you (and/or your partnership) than your original position? What was it? How did it make your world a bit better?
  • Has a lack of compromise over something you later discovered would have been an ‘okay’ compromise ever cost you a relationship?
  • Has an ‘okay’ compromise turned out to not be enough to salvage a relationship? Did you compromise further, or did you let the relationship go?
  • Is there an ongoing conflict in your current relationship? Where are possible compromise points? Have you considered each of those points carefully? Have you discussed them with your partner?
  • Have you ever ended a relationship with someone because they, and not you, were unable to compromise?

As always, feel free to answer some or all of these questions in comments, or just take them with you to think about them as you go about your day. Feel free to share with friends and family using the handy share buttons at the bottom of the post.

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