Whenever I hear the word compromise, or I think about the concept of a compromise, I want to punch myself in the face. It feels cliché, cheesy, and, frankly, a little bit annoying. But there’s a reason the word compromise constantly comes up, especially in relationships: because it works, it’s fair, and it’s healthy.
And that makes sense, because things that are healthy for you are also frequently annoying: the gym, a clean diet, the button on Netflix that passive-aggressively asks if you’re still watching, etc.
So, as much as I hate the word compromise, I still practice it in my relationship. I’ve found that as annoying as it is, I think compromising is one of the things that has been the most helpful, reassuring, and effective during my time so far as a newlywed.
I married my husband a year and a half ago, so I still have a lot to learn and a lot of (annoying) compromises to go through — but the compromises I’ve partaken in during the first several months of my marriage are a large reason why everything has felt so happy and healthy, even when we were arguing or disagreeing. So here are some of those small but important compromises that have made my marriage stronger, happier, and healthier. I hope they help you and your wife or husband, too.
Sounds stupid, silly, and not that complicated, right? Maybe in the beginning. But whether you’re an extreme neat freak or extremely messy, you’re most likely going to have to make some small meet-you-halfways — whether that’s picking your socks up off the floor even though you’re usually more of a care-free person, or accepting the fact that they’re not going to wipe the counter every two hours like you do if you lean towards the tidier side. I’m a little bit more in the middle, yet I seem to have married someone who trails crumbs everywhere he goes, even if he’s not eating at the current moment. Where do these crumbs come from? How are potato chip remnants falling off of him at all times?
But I’ve also had to make some compromises for him. In addition to not losing it every time he leaves a paper towel in the sink, I’ve also had to adjust for some of his pet peeves, such as making sure I don’t take seven weeks to open my mail like I used to, or agreeing to put my laundry away when it’s done instead of just picking clothes out of the basket for several days. That’s marriage, folks.
2. Sometimes one of you will have an “off” week.
Whether it’s because of stress, a crazy schedule, a health problem, anxiety, or something else, it’s the job of the other to do the heavy lifting during that time, because that’s just how marriage works. For the most part it’s 50/50, but sometimes they have to lean on you, and sometimes you have to lean on them. You both have to be willing to take on things for the other, but you both also have to be humble enough to willingly lean on the other when you need them and you’re the one going through a tough time. As small as it seems, being the one to do the grocery shopping, the errand-running, the bill-paying, or the doctor-appointment-making when they’re in a valley will mean so much more than you realize. Or, you’ll realize how much it means and how touching it feels when you’re the one in a valley and they’re the one picking up the pieces and carrying you through your rough patch.
3. If the word “sorry” coming out of your mouth tastes sour, chances are you’re the one in the wrong
…and you’re the one that should be apologizing. This one’s an important compromise: apologize when you’ve screwed up and admit you’re at fault, even if you hate it. Just lean into it quickly, so that it’s over before your brain realizes what’s happening and your stubborn side has a chance to get involved and ruin everything.
4. Be willing to talk about your feelings
Even if you’re tired or you feel uncomfortable talking about your feelings or, like yours truly, you eloquently describe feelings as “gross.” It can be weird and cheesy and mentally draining, but the lightness and sense of relief you feel afterwards (even if the solution isn’t immediate) is unbelievable. That’s marriage, too.