Everyone says marriage takes compromise, but how much do you have to give in before you feel like a doormat? How do you accommodate your partner without sacrificing your own needs? All relationships get out of balance at times when one partner takes, takes, takes and the other one gives, gives, gives. But overall, when you both learn the art of give-and-take, you can have a successful relationship in the long term. The secret is to negotiate what’s fair to both parties.
I’ll do this if you’ll do that
Lynn had the annoying habit of dropping her clothes on the floor when she got ready for bed. This drove Brian crazy. Why couldn’t she walk a few feet to the clothes hamper? But Lynn had always had this habit and scooped up her clothes eventually. But Brian had a lower chaos threshold than Lynn and couldn’t stand the mess. Brian, on the other hand, was always hogging the remote and clicking around looking for upcoming programs. This made Lynn crazy. Why couldn’t he be in the moment, enjoy the show they were watching, and quit interrupting?
Both Lynne and Brian had ingrained habits that the other didn’t like. Lynn promised to stop throwing her clothes on the floor if Brian would lighten up on the remote.
My turn now, your turn next
Meg and Andy both hated doing laundry. They managed to split up other household chores fairly well, but the laundry was a source of conflict. Meg thought that since there was an even split of other chores if she took on the laundry, she would be burdened with more than her share. Andy begrudgingly did some laundry but managed to die a whole load pink, which Meg thought was a tactic to get out of the chore. They decided to alternate—Meg one week and Andy the next. With the arrangement a little more equitable, Andy took great pains to be careful. After about a year of this, when they could afford it, they sent their laundry out to a service.
Meet each other halfway
Amy grew up in a household where she didn’t have to worry about money. Her family ate out at restaurants several nights a week and Amy thought it was perfectly reasonable that she continue after she married Eric. Eric grew up in a home where a restaurant meal was a rare treat and a bit of an extravagance.
Although Amy and Eric both earned enough to dine out more often than Eric did as a child, he was still uncomfortable spending money that way. Both Amy and Eric gave a little and met in the middle. They decided to eat out once or twice a week and cook at home the rest of the time.
It should be a win-win situation for both
When you’re negotiating with your partner, remember both of you need to feel like a winner. If one of you capitulates to keep the peace, resentment will build and the peace won’t last. And if the bargain doesn’t turn out well, you can always negotiate at a later date.
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