Self Help Now: A community blog

Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade offers ideas for maintaining your mental health.

The Art of Compromise

Written by Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade, Community blogger | Jan 4, 2013 10:00 PM

The compromise "solution" over the fiscal cliff, leaving many problems unsolved and many people unsatisfied but some people relieved, led me to ponder relationship compromises anew. Here are some actual, relevant to our life compromise situations and problems with which we battle daily.

No one ever gets everything. Take the man who wants to live in the sunny South and his wife who loves their northern home community with all its friends and connections plus having all four seasons. If the relationship matters, they'll divide the year, take turns being comfortable, separate out once in awhile and each give up something for the other. Take the divorced couple battling over the custody schedule of the children. One wants to move and the other wants to keep the children stable in their hometown sports, schools, and other activities. Something's got to give and, hopefully, it will be in the direction of what's best for the children, regardless of what's best for each parent. Then, one parent may have to bend more than the other. Sorry, that's life. All kinds of sacrifices crop up in marriage. One forgoes a career move to enable the other to shine in a different venue. The other doesn't start a business, borrow money, or buy a new car to comply with the needs and values of his spouse. And on it goes.

What about the people who won't make a compromise to please someone else but do what makes them achieve their main goal? I can think of several successful academics and business leaders who each got the career they wanted, leaving their children to founder with relatives, in and out of different homes, neglected and damaged. There's a compromise of sorts resulting from not wanting to compromise . Or a diplomat or politician compromises a marriage and togetherness by being away a lot or gives up on health. Is the sacrifice worth the contribution made to the world? That definition of "compromise" doesn't involve developing a mid-way solution together but letting something go abandoned so something else can be accomplished.

Every day, people make personal compromises, too, whether finding a mid-way solution or letting something go. She can't take time to exercise because she's on the road all day but makes up for it the next with extra time at the gym. She doesn't have an hour to do a project, but she does have 1/2 an hour and it's better than nothing. She wants to diet but can't get around to it, so she just starts by cutting down on alcohol one day, starch the next and exercises more the next ,etc.

In fact, since life and people and relationships aren't really perfect, there may be more situations in which there's a compromise made than not.

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