Negotiation, compromise and acceptance are key qualities in any relationship. For a committed relationship to go the distance, they are a must.
What is eminently obvious is that when it comes to coupling, it takes two. And when we have a pair, usually each side will be of a different substance, a different type. We have to be alike enough to find common ground, but different enough so that one is not redundant.
When we have two, we may find that we value different things and we value things differently. Personalities are different. We come from different families and cultures. Some are city folk; some are country folk. Love knows no boundaries — folks just fall in love all over the place whether they should or not.
These differences in who we are and how we became who we are give us different perspectives and thus different values. These differences may be subtle or they may be stark. Either way, we have to find a middle ground.
Let’s start with the obvious: money. Do we want to invest the money? Do we feel more comfortable with it in the bank or do we want to play, have things or experiences?
We may value time differently. Consider home time, work time and play time. One of the interesting recent developments is how different generations value work. Many millennials have watched their parents give their lives to corporations only to see market forces take away jobs, homes and retirement accounts. Mellennials seem to value their play and experiences over trusting their lives to a company salary.
We may even engage ethics differently. Is it more important to be kind or to be right? Nobody wants to think that their ethics are situational, but we often make decisions based on what is convenient or comfortable. And if we don’t, should we? Two people who love each other deeply can also be deeply divided on what is important, how we value a thing.
Maybe I went too deep. Let’s look at it this way: Can we be spontaneous or do we have to plan? Can we just go or do we have to clean first? And I’m not even talking about the questions. Can we talk about the solutions?
Can we negotiate this? Negotiating means discussion aimed at reaching an agreement. Hopefully, in a committed couple two can be honest, discuss and agree. It’s never that simple — emotions come into play, old hurts may echo and reverberate.
Compromise lends itself wonderfully to this dilemma. My own negative way of defining compromise leaves each person equally unhappy with the agreed upon solution. Compromise gives us the chance to create space in our lives for the other.
Allow me to suggest acceptance as the goal that teaches humility, respect and kindness. Acceptance challenges us to go beyond ourselves. Acceptance calls for an emotional security that allows us to get beyond our self-serving found in negotiating and compromise. Covenantal love of sacrifice for the other is the real goal.
It’s a high bar, but try to accept your partner for who they are — warts and all!