If you’ve had the opportunity to get to know me, you know compromise is not my strong suit. I suck at compromising, usually because I think I’m right. The irony of it all? My husband is even more stubborn than I am. That’s right, I’m married to the one person who can out-stubborn me. My mother is surely laughing as she reads this (Hi mom!!!), because she doesn’t have to deal with her rather stubborn offspring on a day-to-day basis. That is now Joe’s job, the poor fool 😀
So trust me when I say, this post is as much for you as it is for me. We recently got some news that I’m not ready to share just yet, but suffice it to say, compromise is going to play a huge role in the next weeks and months, so I decided it was probably time to sit and write this out. The first step to compromising is realizing you’re not always right. I know, I know, this is hard for most people to accept (See exhibit A, the 2016 U.S Presidential Election), but it’s crucial. You can’t move past whatever problem you’ve got going on right now if you’re not willing to admit you *might* be wrong.
The next step is to LISTEN to the other person. If you’re in the heat of argument, you’re not going to listen, so if you need to, take some time away, allow the emotions to die down, then reconvene when both of you are ready to discuss like calm, rational, adults. Nothing will be accomplished in a screaming match, trust me (been there, done that, got the friggin t-shirt), and you’ll both say things you don’t mean. It’s okay to admit you need some time to cool down, it doesn’t make you weak. It means you respect the other person enough to not say things in the heat of the moment that could hurt them.
Once you’ve had a chance to cool down, talk it out, but actually listen to the other person this time. Do your absolute best to understand their point of view. Allow them to explain their point of view, and don’t interrupt. The fastest way to show someone you don’t respect them is to not let them finish what they’re saying. You do this to me, and I shut down. I wont talk, and you’ve just successfully shown me that you don’t respect me or my opinion, so why should I respect you or your opinion? So wait your turn.
The flip side of that is don’t try and dominate the conversation to the point where the other person has no choice but to interrupt you, because it sends the same exact message, just in a different way. By not letting the other person speak, you are telling them that your opinion matters so much more than theirs, that you’re just going to keep talking until they see it your way. Do you realize how condescending that sounds? My dad would do this to me ALL THE TIME, and eventually, I just gave up. He would scream over me and constantly interrupt me, which told me that my feelings didn’t matter. Have that done to you enough times, and even the most stubborn person (exhibit B, ME) will eventually give up. I don’t really engage him in conversation anymore, and when he brings up things he knows pisses me off, I just shut down until he gets the point that I’m not going to engage with him.
Last, and most important, is to actually look for a compromise that works for both people. Obviously, there are things that you won’t be able to compromise on (whether to have kids or not, for example), and if you find yourself in that position, think long and hard about whether or not this is something you can get past, and if its not, be honest with the other person. If you lie to the other person and yourself about this, it will breed resentment in your relationship, and you will be miserable, so don’t back down on something just to stay in a relationship that isn’t going to work for you long term.