Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Compromise Isn't Inherently Evil

Simple Mom has a fascinating guest post today by Corey Allan entitled "Want a Great Marriage? Don't Compromise".  I really liked some of his points - he has some good stuff to say about how bitter thoughts about what your spouse owes you on occasions when you don't insist on doing things your own way can corrupt a marriage.

But I think he's wrong about compromise. Here's the comment I wrote over there:
I think the primary problem with this article shows up in your last sentence, which frames all conflict as a strict either/or. Sure, sometimes one person is right and the other wrong, and then talking it out (carefully and kindly) is what’s needed. But sometimes you’re both wrong, or you’re not wrong, but you’re missing information and need to learn more in order to gain the needed perspective.
The other problem is that earlier in the article you’re talking about wants (golf, visiting, etc.) and then later on in the article you’re talking about matters of principle. I don’t think these can be handled the same way. Giving up my wants sometimes makes me unhappy, but giving them up *is* a matter of integrity, because I promised to love, and love involves putting someone else before yourself. It’s charity to sometimes have steak when you like chicken better, you know? It’s not compromising my personhood – lying about my preferences would be, but not insisting on them isn’t.
Finally, I think you’re right about the poisonous effects of bitter *thoughts* about reciprocity, but a great deal of the poison can be drawn by just speaking those thoughts aloud to your spouse. There’s a huge difference between unspoken resentment and an honest statement of, “Okay, we’ll do this thing you want, but you should know it’s going to take a lot of effort on my part, so afterwards can we do this other thing that I like?” That’s good and honest and helpful. (And compromise. :D )
But even though I disagree with some of what he said, I think it's a great post, and really interesting, and I recommend it to you as food for thought worth chewing on a bit.

And then come back here and let me know what you think too!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

1 comment:

becca said...

I think he uses several definitions of "compromise". At first he says that compromise means making concessions. Then he says it means that both parties go away equally unhappy. Then he says it's not being who you are. Then he describes something he doesn't call compromise - a situation where conversation about thoughts, desires, and other information leads to a solution. This is compromise in the best sense of the term - not to mention the definition he provided from the dictionary. He takes the dictionary definition as implicating a bad outcome for both sides, but he also uses the same strategy as that outlined in the dictionary definition to explain what he thinks you ought to do.

A more careful way to put his point would be something like: "When you and your spouse don't see eye to eye on a matter, don't just give in to avoid conflict. Don't give in and expect that you will get something in return. Instead, make sure you understand your spouse's reasoning and desires and that they understand your thoughts, feelings, and information on the matter. In a careful, respectful, reasonable exchange, you can come to an agreement that will ensure both sides are satisfied, which will build a strong marriage." This is true compromise.