In episode 6 of the Transform Relationships Podcast, Diane Rooker talks about Pillar 4 of building a lasting relationship: Compromise and Change. Diane looks at why compromise and change can seem difficult and even impossible but explains how this mindset can be overcome to help your relationship thrive.
Pillar 4 – Compromise & Change in Relationships
In the last episode, we looked at Pillar number 3 of having understanding & acceptance and how that is applied within a relationship, I hope you enjoyed it.
I’ve created 5 pillars to having a happier and more satisfying relationship. The Pillars are the product of working with hundreds of couples and my hope is that you can pick up a few or many little pearls of wisdom that may support you in your relationship today and well into the future.
The Pillars are 1 effective communication, 2 responsibility 3 Understanding and acceptance 4. Compromise and change and 5. Goals and Direction
When working with my clients I need to be fluid and adaptable to their unique needs and requirements as we are all different, At times I may suggest books that could possibly help their current situation, or provide them with many tools, such as how to effectively communicate. I believe that Knowledge is gold and the more you understand about yourself and about your partner the better the relationship can be and not just to survive but to flourish. “It is easy when you know how” it really is. It’s as simple as learning to ride a bike, practice, and effort in relationships equals making progress, and I often refer to a metaphor about relationships and that is to see your own relationship like a lush and colorful garden….. if you care for it and make an effort it has the potential to flourish.
Okay let’s get into talking about
The 4th Pillar Compromise & Change
In all relationships….. being able and willing to compromise and change is a major component needed to support needs being met…. as well as being able to effectively find solutions which then results in you both being equally as happy as each other. No one needs to lose when compromise is made well. No one gets what they want 100% of the time, it’s about making sure you are satisfied with the compromise because then you will be happy to move forward with the solution and not become resentful.
People can become stubborn and rigid when the idea of compromise and change is brought to the table and they may react by saying
No “I’m not going to do that “ or “This is who I was when we met so why do I need to change now. This may sound like a fair question and my response to this is you are not who you were when you met, we all change every day and the relationship then needs to change alongside personal change.
It’s not about changing the essence of who you are….. it’s about changing certain behaviours that may be affecting your partner. I will chat about this in more detail a little later in this podcast. Having an attitude of wanting to be more understanding…. and showing a healthy curiosity for your partner can have a happier and more satisfied result.
Let’s look at
Why There is a Requirement to Compromise in a Relationship?
A compromise is a negotiation between two parties, it may mean that you need to give up something in order for you both to be happy. Look at how you may talk to your children or friends when a decision needs to be made. More often than not a compromise via negotiations is happening. But today we are going to focus on compromise within intimate relationships.
Compromise is required because there are two individuals in a relationship and both have their own perspective on the same issue and their perspective is right for them. Two individuals have come from unique past experiences, and have grown up with different parenting styles, so their perception of the same reality will be different.
There needs to be flexibility when engaging in both compromise and change…. because…. we are all different, and relationships benefit more from having a more fluid outlook rather than being ridged and stuck in your thinking. If there is no openness or willingness then the situation becomes ridged and stuck…. and nothing can be resolved, and neither becomes satisfied. Being able to compromise means that both in the relationship are being heard and understood, and you come up with a solution where both needs are met. A solution that may not get you 100% of what you want but…. you are both happy with the final result, this makes you feel connected as a couple and you are working as an equal team.
Here is an Example of what may be a Compromise in a Relationship
Imagine you have a difference of opinion on what time the kids go to bed, one of you believes that the kids should be in bed by a certain time, and the other feels it’s okay for them to stay up a little later….. and both of you…. have your reasons as to why you feel this way. This probably comes from how you were parented, it’s what was modeled over time we copy the behaviour because we dont know any other way. But this is not always the case at times we can parent completely the opposite of how our parents parented us because we didn’t like it. anyway…
Couples that are not willing to compromise can develop an argument very quickly from here voices become raised and things become heightened very quickly….name-calling may happen or the conversation proceeds down what I call “the rabbit hole” deflecting and bringing up old issues that are totally irrelevant and this causes more confusion, frustration. The original issue which here is the kid’s bedtime doesn’t get resolved and this may lead to a breakdown in the relationship and resentment for your partner can develop. I see a lot of couples where one resents the other and if this is not sorted quickly then this will turn into contempt and it’s a slippery slope down after that.
Going back to the above example of the bedtime issue, Imagine if both parents could express why they feel the way they do about bedtime and both opinions are acknowledged, understanding why the other feels that way and then compromising to come up with a solution together where they are both happy.
The compromise part of this situation could sound something like this,
“ What if we put the kids to bed at 7 pm Monday to Thursday, and on the other days they can stay up a little later”
The other partner may say
“That sounds good but how about we make it Sunday to Thursday as Sunday is a school day “ and they both agree with the solution.
This works if both parties agree and there are clear guidelines to how this is going to proceed, such as being clear on the days and the times and letting the kids know what’s expected of them and that the parents stick to their agreement. If they feel it needs to change then have a chat privately and make what alteration needs to occur…….this is where being flexible comes into play…. as all decisions are trial and error nothing is set in stone.
When we understand our partner’s needs via implementing effective communication skills, needs can be met and peacefulness and unity as a couple can develop & strengthen. We are all different and I know that I say this a lot and when we choose to be in a relationship we do need to compromise because there is a level of accountability to your partner when you have chosen to be with your partner.
Practice and effort do make progress.
The Stages of Compromise are
Understand what you need, and why you have the issue. The clearer you are about what you are needing, thinking, and feeling the clearer your partner will understand what you are saying, if you just become emotional about the situation without clarity you won’t get what you need, it can become an unresolved mess.
Listen to each other ideas and reasons by being present and acknowledging your partner after they have spoken, regardless of whether you agree or not this is your partner’s truth and this always needs to be acknowledged once acknowledged then you switch and you can have your say, making sure that your partner has finished talking completely before you say how it is from your perspective.
When you both have all the information on your thoughts on the situation then you can come up with a solution that you are BOTH happy with, you are equally happy with the compromise. If a decision is made without one of you not being happy then the original issue may still become a problem at some point, this can lead to resentment and an unconscious attempt to sabotage the compromise.
The next step is very important and it is to have clarity on where, when, and how the solution will happen. I relate this process the same as running a business if there is no set plan on how it’s going to be run, then it will more than likely fizzle out, or building a house without any plans just won’t happen, to build your dream it takes plans and time on where and how it’s going to look and a good solid house or business begins with a solid foundation, whatever is built upon that will have a better opportunity to withstand anything that comes its way, rain, hail or shine so being clear at this point of the conversation and make sure you are both clear on the outcome.
Let’s talk a little about change
Just as you need flexibility within compromise, this also needs to be applied to the idea of change. People can have quite a reaction when they have been requested to change their behaviour.
Change is a part of life…. we all change every day because of circumstances, our environment, and experiences, the changes I am talking about are about certain behaviors that may interfere with a partner’s needs not being met, and not about changing the core essence of a person but only certain behaviors. It’s not about wanting to change how our partner chooses to dress, how they laugh, or little quirky habits, these behaviours do not have a direct effect on the other person so there is no need to change them, these behaviours may be just an annoyance which has no direct effect. This is part of your partner personality and acceptance may be a good option here. I always say choose your battles, our current state of feelings and emotions are determined by how we choose to look at a situation it’s about perspective. Do not sweat the small stuff.
If the behaviour does have a direct effect on the other partner where their needs are not able to be met then change will need to occur so both partners can feel happy and satisfied equally. An example of this is you like to drive fast but it frightens your partner and your partner asks you politely by giving you a reason, such as “Can you please slow down as it frightens me”. Then you will need to slow down as this does have a direct result on your partner’s wellbeing, it’s not the time to say it’s fine, I’m a good driver. Regardless of how good you think you are, your partner is frightened and needs to feel safe, so acknowledging them and slowing down would be the kind thing to do.
When communicating with your partner it’s all in the way you ask them to change and make sure the environment is suitable for this to happen. Preferably when you are both calm and ready to have this talk.
Most people generally struggle to communicate effectively, and if delivered with attitude your partner gets defensive as they may feel they are being attacked, so staying calm is key. Just a little pearl here. It is like meets like. If someone addresses you with a tone or in anger then you are more than likely going to respond a similar way.
Benefits of Compromise and Change
- Both parties feel satisfied with the resolution.
- Feelings of being important and validated as an individual in the relationship
- Problems can be resolved quickly and easily by stopping the dysfunctional cycle of confrontation on the same subject.
- Both couples feel a greater connection and loving closeness
- Learning to be more open and expressive provides more understanding, for yourself and your partner.
- Autonomy within the relationship
- More clarity and less conflict
- Happier and more satisfied when being heard and acknowledged
- Accepted for who you are
- Feelings of being important to your partner
- Learn who your partner is
- Embrace differences
- Develops deeper connection and intimacy
When you enter into a relationship there is a level of responsibility to make sure your partner has their needs met and that you are both happy being able to compromise to meet each other halfway and to be able to change behaviours. This ia a massive part of reaching that happiness. This is having a mature approach to the relationship.
And you know at times you won’t get your needs met because you can see your partner’s needs being met at this point in time is more needed than yours being met
In my practice, I heard many times people say that “ I am stubborn” as if it’s something to be proud of and that it can’t be changed. Being stubborn is being rigid, to be stubborn is to say no, it’s my way or the high way. If we can learn to recognise that we are all looking at the world through our own set of unique lenses and instead of being stubborn get curious about what our partner is feeling and saying it’s amazing what we can learn when we approach each other with that attitude of openness.
Thank you for spending this time with me and I hope you have enjoyed this podcast on Compromise and Change, in my transform relationship podcast series.
the next podcast will be Pillar # 5 Common Goals and Direction.