I’ve been studying relationships for over 20 years. My insatiable curiosity has me seeking the truth behind what makes a relationship profoundly connected, passionate, and intimate. I am especially interested in what draws people together and what is needed to create a lasting fulfilling relationship.
Whenever I’ve come across couples that have had lasting marriages (I’m talking 30-50 years+ of being together), I will ask, “What’s your secret?”
The answer I receive – 8.5 times out of 10 – is that the secret is to ‘compromise’.
When I hear that answer something inside of me cringes. I will get to that in a moment.
So, what I end up doing is asking additional questions to see just how connected and happy they are in their relationship. I ask questions like, “Does he know almost everything about you – even your most deepest darkest secrets?” and “How happy are you in this relationship?”.
Here’s why I cringe.
The definition of compromise:
as a noun: an agreement or a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions.
as a verb: accept standards that are lower than is desirable.
A compromise typically means that both people have to give up something they want in order to come up with a solution that is doable or tolerable for both.
While this all sounds noble and selfless – what if I told you that feeling like you must compromise when situations come up – may be causing more harm than good in relationships?
You see, compromising has us unknowingly accept a mindset of making do rather than asking for what we really want. Settling instead of going a little deeper with ourselves.
So instead of asking “What do we need to compromise to make this work?”, what if we asked instead “How can we both get what we want in this situation?”
Here’s a personal example of how NOT compromising has allowed for an incredibly fulfilling and lasting relationship…
The way Hemal and I continue to create a profoundly connected relationship is by sharing what we each deeply desire in any given situation. We talk things through until we come up with a creative and sometimes out of the box, win win solution.
A win win solution means that neither of us feel like we’re sacrificing, obligated or dutiful.
On the outside it may appear that one of us is giving something up, however what actually matters is that we get to a place that FEELS exciting and supportive to what we each individually deeply desire.
Truth is, the way we feel on the inside is the TRUE barometer, for whether we are actually expressing or suppressing our desires. Because when Hemal and I are expressed there is a level of understanding that comes through that can’t be there when we both aren’t.
Understanding is the new compromise.
Understanding in this way brings forth compassion, love, connectedness where compromise brings forth feelings of obligation, contraction, and making sure we retain looking good in a specific way (like being a good wife, daughter, friend).
Here’s a quick example:
There was a trip Hemal wanted to go on with 25 of his family and friends for an entire week. For me, this is A LOT of people – most who I do not know. I was not excited by this but Hemal really wanted to go.
So now what do we do?
We discussed it honestly.
I told him I was not excited about the trip in general. However, there was one part that would really be great and that was to be able to spend time with my brother in law and his family. So it was decided that I would do this for a couple of days (instead of spending the whole week with the whole group).
Hemal then shared what he desired.
He wanted to stay the entire week, play golf and connect with his friends and family.
We both honored what the other needed and as a result we both got what we wanted.
That is a true WIN WIN.
When you face a situation with someone that you want to result in a win-win, it’s important to take the time to understand first what it is you really desire in the moment and then have the courage to EXPRESS it instead of just “giving in”. No one wins when we do that.
Sounds easy right? Well it is!
You may need to first do some digging to figure out what it is you are truly needing and wanting. When we are trying to make others happy, it is easy to lose touch with what we desire.
And, it may take a little practice but once you see the difference in your relationships you’ll never ‘compromise’ again 🙂
Here’s a step by step process to communicate your FULL desires in relationships so you can achieve more win-wins:
A request is made of you or you have a request of someone else.
Stop and notice how you are feeling in the moment. Are you an instant yes or a no? Are you loving the idea or not?
What aspects don’t you like about the request?
What aspects do you like about the request?
If you could have it your way what would you absolutely WANT!
Let the person know all of this, and then ask them to reveal what they like and dislike and what they would absolutely love!
Talk it out until you both leave feeling good and excited.
Today, I would love to hear your opinion about “compromising”. How does compromising make you feel, how often do you do it, do you see compromising differently than me?
I love perspectives and I want to hear yours too. Share with me in the comments below.