Compromise: Methods of Dealing with Conflict

The ability to successfully navigate through conflicts is a critical skill for enduring marriages.  Unfortunately, it is also a skill that most couples learn the hard way.  There are more harmful methods of dealing with conflict than there are helpful ones.  To make matters worse, it's the harmful methods to which most people instinctively gravitate.  Fortunately, there are some beneficial options for handling marital disputes.  One of the more common ways that can lead to a positive outcome is compromise.

Compromising with your spouse involves both giving some and getting some in return.  In other words, you forgo some of your ideas or demands in order to ensure that some of your needs and expectations are met.  In so doing you also acquiesce to some of the ideas or demands of your partner so that some of his/her needs and expectations may also be fulfilled.

With respect to marriage, there are both positive and potentially negative aspects inherent in compromise.  On the positive side compromise can foster teamwork, bring about a solution that is mutually beneficial, and contribute to fulfilling at least some of the needs represented by both partners.  There are no winners or losers because each person achieves a portion of his/her own objectives.

There is a possible negative side to compromise in marriage, however.  If a compromise involves sacrificing basic values or convictions that you hold then the consequences may be regrettable.  Even with one's spouse, there are times when it may be necessary to stand one's ground.  Although in marriage this should be the rare exception rather than the rule.  And, it should always be done with the utmost respect and gentleness.

Problems may also arise if so-called compromises are imbalanced or used as a tool for manipulation.  What some people call a compromise could be more accurately described as a bribe.  Such arrangements will not bode well for a relationship in the long run.

In summary, compromise is generally a positive method of dealing with marital conflict with a couple of caveats.  It is typically a good way of ensuring that both partners achieve some goals and have some needs fulfilled.  But, when compromises are imbalanced or sacrifice strongly held values they can be counterproductive.

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