How to Negotiate in a Relationship Without Hurting Each Other

in love

Compromise is hard. Whether you have a hard time with it because you are an only child, or because you just hate to make sacrifices, compromise is hard. When it comes to relationship, it is inevitable, but that doesn’t make it any less daunting.

When you have unhealthy compromise, one person feels like they are the only one having to sacrifice something, and this one-sided relationship can cause so much resentment and anger that the relationship can’t survive. Therefore, it’s vital to know how to navigate compromise as a team so that everyone feels like it’s handled fairly.

Couples compromise when it comes to job changes, moving, even deciding what color to paint the kitchen. Some compromises are small and some seem ominously huge, but they are all equally important in ensuring each side feels valued. [1]

It would be nice to think we are all selfless. But it’s not the truth.

At its core, compromise is hard because it means one person in the relationship is probably not going to get what they want. This means they are giving up their desires for the other person. While it would be nice to think we are all so selfless, the truth is it’s hard to give things up when we want them. Sometimes, we get so caught up in getting what we want, that we don’t realize how unwilling we are to compromise. This typically leads our partner to do the majority of sacrificing which can cause some big resentment issues [2].

Sometimes compromise isn’t easy to spot. Take for example a married couple who is deciding what to do for a date night. The wife wants to stay in because she is stressed from work and just wants to read quietly in bed. The husband wants to go see a movie in an attempt to have a date night. Wife is frustrated at this last minute recommendation but she chooses to say yes to avoid hurting his feelings. However, unbeknownst to the Wife, the Husband didn’t want to see a movie either. Instead, he just wanted to find some way to spend time with his wife, as he is feeling disconnected.

They both compromised, but neither of them know it because they didn’t voice their inner thoughts [3]. Though this may seem like a silly problem, the truth is that both of them now feel misunderstood by the other and maybe even disrespected.

The Wife was distracted throughout the whole movie, thinking about what she needed to do at work the next day, and the Husband was sad she wasn’t more romantic with him. After all, he wanted a date with his wife. Wouldn’t most wives be grateful for that attention? Maybe, but that’s only if the communication was strong enough that both of them understood what the other truly wanted and why.

When you can negotiate and reach a compromise, your relationship grows

Healthy compromise helps you and your partner be your best selves. You both choose, at some point, a temporary discomfort in order to achieve a shared goal. This leads to a stronger relationship, as you are both doing what’s best for the other. If you feel taken advantage of, or like you are the only one compromising, that’s a problem. It should be about you two and your future. Not just your partner.

How to Compromise

Keep it equal.

Yes, compromise means one of you isn’t getting their way, but it shouldn’t make you hurt or angry. Before you request a compromise or ask your partner to give something up, consider what you are offering in return. This shouldn’t be a bribe, but rather a way to ensure you are both making changes.

Don’t try to compromise if you’re mad.

Think about the last big argument you had with your partner or spouse. Did anything positive or productive come from it? Probably not. Compromise is no different. Only discuss it when you’re feeling open-minded and calm. You want a discussion, not a fight. Compromise produced during resentment will only wreck the relationship.

Don’t compromise the important things.

Remember, compromise should benefit you both in the long run. If the compromise on the table involves one of you giving up a dream, family, friendship, or career, take a step back. Assuming none of these things are somehow toxic to the relationship, you should never feel like you have to lose a part of who you are to help you partner. Growing and changing in a relationship is great. Becoming a different, unrecognizable person with no dreams or happiness? Not OK.

Keep it fair.

To keep a relationship functioning, remember that compromise can’t mean one of you has to roll over. Take this example [4] , “If you move to the city, you might have an easier commute and be happier in the fast-paced lifestyle. But will your spouse’s commute double? Will he or she be put out by the frenetic life? Is that fair to him or her?” If it doesn’t seem fair, you need to reach a true compromise that does. Otherwise, you are just being disrespectful.

Don’t waffle!

Waffling means you’re going back and forth on something. This is everyone’s biggest pet peeve. If you’ve made a decision and you and your spouse have agreed on it, don’t change your mind. If you come back to the conversation with a whole new opinion, not only does it make you seem wishy-washy in the relationship, but it becomes challenging for your spouse to view you as a stable partner. If you have made a decision, stick with it.

Summary

In summary, remember that compromise is a part of love. It can be challenging, frustrating and sometimes feel impossible, but remember that everyone does it. If you feel like you’re having a hard time compromising, it doesn’t mean you and your partner should break up or seek counselling right away, but it does mean the two of you need to sit down and figure out what is keeping you from being successful.

It could help to make a list of what you are having a hard time compromising about and see if there’s a common thread. If all of the elements make you feel like you’re giving up your identify, then that’s a problem. But if it’s a matter of refusing to change, then you need to do some introspection and figure out how to overcome that.

You should always feel like the compromise is equal; you and your partner should always have to give and take, not just one of you. The idea of compromising is that it brings you both happiness and security in the long run, not just instant gratification. This often means one of you may be temporarily disappointed, but that’s OK. And if you feel like you can’t get it right and the compromise is not coming easily after trying, don’t be afraid to seek counselling. Compromise is important, and it’s worth getting help if it means saving the relationship.

Featured photo credit: Sweet Ice Cream Photography via stocksnap.io

Reference

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