When to compromise


In a blog this morning, Sue asked the question of how much you compromise yourself in order to maintain a relationship. And there is really no simple answer to that question. I think to a certain degree you compromise until you start feeling uncomfortable about it…but that’s not quite true, either. Often within a relationship, particularly a long-term one, you have to push the boundaries of your comfort zone in order to reach a compromise.


Ultimately, I think you compromise until you begin to feel a little resentment starting to simmer. As soon as you identify that, I think it’s a good time to put on the brakes and put your feelings about it on the table rather than letting them fester in the darkness. Talk it out and see what happens. Maybe you can work something out that’s more agreeable to you, maybe not. But it’s better in my opinion to do that up front (and as soon as practicable) rather than keeping it back until you start to swing over to defiance or subtle sabotage of the relationship.


Unless, you know, the relationship sucks and you’re subconsciously trying to end it. But anyways…


I love my wife to death, but she drives me nutso. Switch genders and terms around and pretty much anybody I know could say that sentence, though. No big shock, there. I’m holding back on getting tattooed again (and doing lots of other things I’d like to do) because we just don’t have the money right now. Money is almost always tight for us, and that’s due in large part to the fact that to make things easier on my wife and son she works part-time from home for not a heck of a lot of money rather than being miserable working a 9-5 someplace else. We could have a better cashflow situation around ye olde domicile if she bit the bullet and bowed to The Man, but it would be at a considerable cost to her peace of mind. So I forgo a whole lot of creature comforts and try to deal with the credit card bills as a compromise toward helping her out.


To me, though, there are bigger things. I gave up riding after I destroyed my motorcycle because my accident scared the ever-loving bejeezus out of her. We’re talking about something I fantasized about since I was a tiny kid, something that I deeply connected to as a part of who I was, and something that still pulls on my like an addiction. She knows (she says) that at some point I’ll have to do it again. She just asked that it not be until our son is older this time. It’s now been longer since I crashed than the entire period I owned the damned bike. And as much as it pains me at times, I’ve swallowed it and agreed that it’ll be years still before I saddle up again. (I hope my leathers still fit then.)


We also got a dog this year, over my strenuous objections. I wasn’t completely opposed in theory, but I was definitely opposed at the time. She knew it, and she still kept going to animal shelters, taking our son along, until she finally found a dog that she really attached to and put a hold on it without telling me. She then came home, asked for “A Talk,” and basically turned on the waterworks.


I rolled over and gave in on it, even knowing and telling her up front that it was highly possible if not in fact likely that I would often resent the dog’s presence in my space, myself for giving in, and her for putting me in that position. That by not waiting until I was comfortable with the proposition when I might actually enjoy having a pet around (I actually like dogs in general), she might do more harm than good in the long term. She still persisted, and I gave in. And sadly most of my predictions were correct. I’m not happy having the dog in my space, I am pissed at myself for giving in, and I occasionally hold it against her no matter how hard I try not to. And, stupidly, I get pissed at myself for being pissed, because there’s nothing much to do about it now. The dog’s here, I’m not going to slap my wife or my son in the face by saying it has to go. Not fair to them, and not really fair to the dog either.


So, now, basically I’m stuck in year 1 of a 10-15 year term with a dog that I never wanted and can’t bring myself to like. It causes a rift between my wife and me on a regular basis because there’s really nothing to do about it now, we can’t change our respective feelings about the situation, and that’s that. I would have been better off to put my foot down and stand up for myself in the first place, tears be damned, than to have this little rock in the boot of my marriage for God knows how long. That, friends, is the definition of a shitty compromise.

So, what I’ve learned–I think–is that you have to know yourself well enough to know when to stand up for yourself. If you listen closely, you’ll know when those times come. And being honest (with yourself and your partner) can hopefully save you a lot of frustration (with yourself and your partner) in the long run.


4 Responses

  1. Hey, great response. Now I see why you made a blog post of your own dedicated to it.

    Man, it is so easy to do one little thing and then years later realize just how far you stepped over that line of compromise and turned it into losing yourself.

    I have a LONG way to go yet on this journey.

  2. Looking back at it, I cut a lot out of the end there to make it take up less space but I think it gives the impression that I spend all my time fuming, which isn’t true. There are much more horrid things that could happen (and have happened) and I don’t want to be too melodramatic about it. It’s not an every day every hour irritant…but it’s always potentially there, and will be for quite some time.

    Mostly I try to just get on with it, and often I succeed, but some days it’s harder than others. Like, say, when we’re planning our first long vacation over the holidays, and now we have to plan to take the dog, too, when in point of fact I’d really really prefer a vacation FROM the dog. Instead of 10-11 hours in the car with the dog, followed by 7 days at home all day with the dog, followed by another 10-11 hours in the car with the dog. Blah.

    So, anyway, that’s why it’s getting to me a little more now than usual. Life ain’t so bad in general.

    The dog is the only choice that’s really bothering me, I think. The motorcycle and tattooing choices are hard, but fair, all things considered. The dog I just feel like I let myself be taken advantage of, and its continued presence means that the “incident” as it were is ongoing and can get renewed at any given time if I’ve had a hard day and/or the dog does something to irritate me. That’s hard within the context of a relationship.

    But you’re right, sometimes it’s all too easy to get wrapped up in pleasing your partner and only later realize what it’s cost. Both to yourself, and to your relationship, because after a while it eats away at you.

    We’ve all got a long way to go. At least, so we hope.

  3. Compromise. It’s not compromise when one person is giving while the other is just taking. I know you’ve read the crap going on with me on my blog. There was absolutely no compromise there. In all actuality I just became a doormat. You’re right, when you start feeling resentment, that’s a big warning sign.

  4. Yeah, I don’t think there’s much compromise going on with you, Becca. And I’m sorry for that. It really sucks.

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