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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Fraley

The Subtle Art of Compromise: Why meeting in the middle is winning

compromise, relationship coach, relationship advice, conflict resolution, marriage coach, resolving conflit
Never forget that you're on the same team!

Compromise is an important part of almost all healthy relationships. One of the most important steps in compromise is a willingness to recognize that conflict, conflict resolution and compromise are normal parts of a relationship and should be viewed as a constructive option, NOT as "giving in" or "losing." Compromise is NOT a loss for one partner, but instead a WIN for the relationship!

Not all disagreements are going to be solvable and in many cases compromise will be the only viable option. Compromise should be viewed as a positive way to meet the needs of both partners, rather than a loss or failure on one end.  

Also, it is not only the compromise itself that matters, but how the couple communicates while compromising.  If one partner gets defensive, attack's the other's character, brings up past hurts, withdraws, shows contempt or disrespect for their partner or gloats if the compromise leans to their side... the benefits of compromising will be lost or diluted.  Bottom line, compromise is a way to show that you are a team and are both working towards a solution that is in the best interest of the relationship. 

Some tips on making the process of compromise healthy and productive include, approaching each other with an open mind and a willingness to listen (without just waiting to respond or defend), recognizing what resistance one may have to accepting another point of view and believing that your partner has positive intentions and wants what is in the best interest of the relationship.  

The goal of compromise does not have to be full out agreement, but rather cooperation and alignment!  Successful couples know that it is better to bend a little than to break a lot!

Here are a few examples of times where the subtle art of compromise can be beneficial to your relationship.

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1. Planning vacations - where and when to travel. In this instance, I would recommend that the couple both jot down what would make their “ideal” vacation (climate, travel time, transportation and available activities) and then choose the top 1-2 factors from each list and attempt to develop travel ideas from there.

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2. How to spend the holidays - with only immediate family or extended family and whose extended family? Also, should they host or travel for the holidays? This one can be tricky. Extended family can make emotions run high, which can make compromising more difficult. If it’s a question of which family to visit over the holidays, hosting so all may attend could be a great option or choosing one family to visit over the holidays while committing to visiting to the other relatives on the next available opportunity or next holiday.

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3. Division of labor at home - chores and children such as cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, child care. In cases with logistical and practical issues, I may ask each partner to write down the top 5 chores they feel they excel at and the 5 that are more of a struggle for them. Then the couple can use that list to make a fair compromise on chores. Maybe each partner takes their top 2 and then they randomly assign the others.

4 Socializing - what activities to do, hosting events, attending events, which ones and with what frequency? Again, the art of compromise in this situation really comes down to open communication. Being honest as to which activities and events you really enjoy, tolerate or actually dislike. Sometimes our partner may be unaware of our dislike of certain social events or people, so compromise may be just a matter of clearly expressing your wants and dislikes.

About the author:

Michelle Fraley, MA, WPCC is a relationship coach and professional matchmaker and founder and owner of Spark Matchmaking & Relationship Coaching, LLC. Her mission to help people connect and maintain healthy, satisfying relationships using mindfulness and intentional love. She lives in Arizona with her husband, daughter and 4 furry children.

Connect with me:

Instagram @ sparkmatchmaking

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