How Compromise Leads to Marital Stalemate

I had made the deal. I knew I should keep the deal. Deep down, though, I was thinking “This isn’t a good deal.”

About two weeks ago, Chris had asked if we could start working out together. I was fully in favor of him getting healthier; his diabetes makes me nervous about the future. I was fully in favor of me getting in better shape; aside from pure vanity, life just runs easier when I’m in better shape. I didn’t really want to do the intense Power90/P90X workouts he likes. So we agreed on doing some Biggest Loser DVDs that we both could live with.

So after two weeks, how many times did we actually get up and work out together? None.  Zero. Nada. Zilch.

I didn’t say so at the time, but every morning, I felt a little resentful at the idea of getting up to workout. Because this plan meant I’d be getting up earlier, going to bed earlier, and still having even less time to do what I really want to do right now, which is write.

I didn’t realize it when I agreed to it, but when the rubber met the road, it felt like I’d unintentionally agreed to backburner something I really cared about in order to help Chris with something he really cared about. Meanwhile, he was similarly uninspired by the workouts I’d picked.

I think the problem is compromise. There’s a difference between compromise and collaboration.  Compromise almost always leads to this kind of stalemate. In compromise, you don’t really get what you want, but you tell yourself it’s okay because the other person isn’t really getting what they want, either. No wonder married people sometimes end up feeling like their spouse is the enemy of their personal happiness. When you compromise like that all the time, you kind of are.

Collaboration is harder. Collaboration means you keep brainstorming until you get to an option you’re both excited about.  So this morning, we tried to collaborate. I think we came up with something good. Something where both of us get what we really want.

I’ll let you all know how it works out. Meanwhile, what are your experiences with compromise? With collaboration? With negotiation in your relationships, and the inevitable renegotiation that has to happen?

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