Compromising positions

photo credit: via photopin cc

photo credit: via photopin cc

In a previous post (“Who cares who’s wrong?”), I proposed that laying aside an attempt to discover who is right and who is wrong is best for your marriage. This can occur not only through deciding (not always easy) that you don’t have to be right and somehow win, but also through intentional, agreed-upon compromise; striking a balance between your position and that of your spouse. Having a successful relationship with anyone involves compromise. Compromising with your spouse is vital to a healthy marriage.  In searching for a compromise in a battle of “right and wrong,” it’s not terribly possible to maintain a stance of superiority.

Let me create this fictionalized, simplistic scenario as a means of attempting to see compromise in action:

Peter (an introvert, by the way): “I don’t want to talk about how my day was as soon as I get home. What’s the big deal?”

Claire (possibly an extrovert): “I think you’re being rude and selfish. You should want to talk about your day with your wife.”

Peter: “I think you’re being ridiculous in expecting me to do so. You should simply let me chill after work.”

Claire (in a snide tone): “…and why is that?”

Well, this is about to escalate, but the couple is already entrenched in the battle of right and wrong (and the “shoulds” are a red flag). Now on to the compromise in action:

Peter: “Ok. Hang on. Let’s try to look at this from both sides.”

Claire: “Ok. After all, that’s what our awesome therapist said we ought to do.”

Peter: “I’m remembering that she said we may have to abandon the idea of who’s right and wrong when we argue. So, I guess I’m not any more right than you.”

Claire: “…and I’m not any more right than you. So, let’s think here. Maybe I could give you a few minutes to chill before I bombard you with talking/questions?”

Peter: “That might work and would be appreciated. Then, I can regain some energy and talk to you about my day. Since I know you’ve been lacking adult contact since I left this morning, you’ll really like that.”


This scenario made compromise sound far more simplistic and quickly reached than you’ve probably experienced; however, the quicker you realize you’re entrenched in a battle of right and wrong, the more easily compromise is reached.

The next time you and your spouse become locked in battle, practice compromise.

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About Lori Mitton

Lori Mitton is a licensed clinical psychotherapist (MA, LLP) specializing in marriage and family therapy. She is co-founder of Permanent Passionate Partnership.