Let’s just start by acknowledging how sweet it would be if we could always have our way in life. Nice, huh? Well, and then we woke up. In real life and in real relationships, no one person gets their way all or even most of the time. Given that each relationship is a combination of two different people often from different backgrounds and with different ways of looking at the world, knowing how to find compromise is a crucial skill for relationship success.
Compromise is obviously easier when it’s not a big deal on the line. The more important the decision or the outcome, the bigger the potential for a power struggle, however. The normal process is for each individual to try to persuade or convince the other to his or her own viewpoint to lead to the outcome each originally wanted. How many times have you found yourself in just that position, both you and your partner digging in your respective heels in your own favor?
Often, the deeper meaning for each person never actually comes to the surface as the discussion (sometimes argument) unfolds. Arguments usually look like they are about what’s obvious and it’s what’s deeper underneath that’s important in understanding each other. When each person feels truly understood in his or her point, then there’s more softness available to hear why the other person wants what they want. From that place, it’s sometimes easier to find some level of common ground.
Hopefully in a good compromise, each person leaves feeling like what they wanted and why was understood by the other, that both people’s feelings were taken into consideration and that the end decision is one that feels mutually satisfying or at least reasonable for both. So, you start from working to understand each other’s position and feelings, you look for the common ground possible within the two viewpoints (think the overlapping space in a Venn diagram) and you talk about how well that common ground meets both of your needs for the given situation.
Here’s what that might look like:
I live on a hill overlooking a combination wooded and marshy area. Being a native Minnesotan, I love having the trees all around with all the green in the summer and gorgeous color in the winter. Having trees around all sides of the backyard makes me feel like I have a little oasis of peacefulness. Living 14 years in AZ left me missing what I called “real” trees so I want a bunch of them around me. I love the wildlife that comes out of the woods. It gives me a sense of coziness and security.
My husband grew up in California where he had wide vistas and his years in AZ left him wanting to be able to see all across the horizon freely. He likes our trees just fine but he wants to have a big view across the land from the top of our hill. When the trees are gone, you can see for quite a far distance. That gives him a sense of both home and space to have that kind of a view. It’s freedom.
On the face of it, my first joking “compromise” should work for both of us. I say that for 6 months out of the year I get my trees and for 6 months out of the year he gets his view so we could just leave it all alone. We could leave it at that because my husband is pretty easy going. The deeper meaning for me is that I want to have my feelings count and taking the trees out completely makes it seem like they don’t. I want to matter equally. The deeper meaning for him isn’t just the view, it’s that feeling of home he misses.
Our common ground is that we both actually like the trees AND the view. My husband can deal with having some trees, especially because he does get the whole long winter of unobstructed view and mostly because my deeper meaning is important to him. I can deal with some of the trees being thinned, especially the tallest ones toward the back that obstruct the view the most and don’t add that much more to the oasis feel, because I care about his deeper meaning too. So, we will thin some of the trees and each love our respected 6 months of our favored views. Best of all, we let the other one know that their feelings are important and we both count in this relationship.
– See more at: http://www.resilientrelationshiprevolution.com/the-art-of-compromise/#sthash.9Pbk49cR.dpuf
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