While compromise is essential to making a relationship work, it's not always the easiest thing to accomplish. You may disagree completely with your partner, who refuses to see your point of view. When attempting to wade through your differences into a place of understanding, think of yourselves as a team, working toward the same goal: a lasting relationship. This requires some thoughtful consideration, positive communication skills and reasonable sacrifices.
Listen to and consider your partner's needs. Set aside your desires for a minute and listen to what your partner says he needs or wants. Try to see the situation through his eyes to better understand where he is coming from. Seeing his point of view alongside yours will help you come up with a fair solution that you can agree upon, says psychologist John Gottman in "The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work."
Negotiate fairly to come up with an agreement. Propose a solution that meets both of your needs. Ask for what you want, making your points without blaming or criticizing. Watch the words you choose and speak in a caring tone, suggests pastoral marriage counselor Robert Samms in "Making Marriage Meaningful: Insights and Secrets from a Forty-Year Marriage." The goal of compromising should be for both people to win.
Make the necessary sacrifices to meet in the middle. When you find a resolution, it may require you to give up some of your desires or habits in order to incorporate your partner’s needs. When you make the first step toward a sacrifice, your partner will likely be encouraged to do the same on his end. This could mean giving up an hour of TV time to spend more evenings together or limiting the amount of times you eat out, so that you can save money with your spouse.
Go to couples counseling if the sacrifices are too big for either person to make. If your partner is asking you to give up an important part of who you are, your deepest desires or needs, a therapist may be able to mediate and help you communicate your desires in a better way. Re-think making sacrifices that require you to give up a part of who you are -- that will only hurt the relationship, says psychologist Randi Gunther in “Selling Out: Compromising Integrity in Intimate Relationships” for Psychology Today. Negative feelings toward your partner tend to linger when you feel that you have given up a significant part of who you are.
- Psychology Today: Selling Out: Compromising Integrity in Intimate Relationships
- Making Marriage Meaningful: Insights and Secrets from a Forty-Year Marriage; Robert Samms, Ph.D
- The Critical Partner: How to End the Cycle of Criticism and Get the Love You Want; Michelle Skeen
- The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work; John Gottman