If there's one thing you and your partner should do sooner rather than later, it's learn how to compromise in your relationship. This skill can come in handy in a variety of situations, from choosing what to do on vacation, to fixing problems in your sex life. And it means doing it all without arguing, hurting feelings, or pushing each other away.
"Compromise is coming together and finding a solution agreeable to both parties," Jonathan Bennett, a relationship and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. "It shows that the relationship itself is more important than being 'right' all of the time or always getting your own way." It also shows you're approaching life as a couple, and one who wants to make decisions together.
"Compromise usually involves assessing your priorities and focusing on what you value most," Bennett says, so this isn't about doing things you don't want to do, or being unhappy. Instead, it means talking about what you both need, valuing each other's opinions, and finding a way to meet in the middle so that everyone's OK with the outcome. Read on below for some examples of compromise in a relationship, according to experts, and how you and your partner can do the same.
1. Spending Time Together Vs. Apart
If you need lots of time alone and your partner doesn't (or vice versa) it can quickly lead to problems. Both of you might feel frustrated, misunderstood, or as if you aren't getting your needs met. But if you can reach a compromise, a difference here doesn't have to become a problem.
Instead of giving up and going with one person's preference, for example, it's best to meet "somewhere in the middle where each partner has a degree of independence while still focusing on quality couple time," Bennett says.
You could also talk about the things you'd like to do alone versus as a couple, while also finding ways to make the time you spend together more meaningful. It doesn't really matter how you divvy up your schedules as long as you talk about it, and make sure you're both on the same page.
2. Figuring Out Family Plans
"When you’re in a relationship it’s easy for family members to pull you and your partner in different directions, especially at important times like birthdays and holidays," Bennett says. It can get confusing, and might leave you feeling stressed out and unsure of how to keep everyone happy. But if you compromise, it doesn't have to go south.
Experts recommend spending certain holidays with one side of the family, and designating the rest of holidays for the other side. You could also create your own holiday traditions with the goal of bringing everyone together in one spot.
If this has been an ongoing problem in your relationship, talk with your partner about these options, and find ways to meet in the middle, Bennett says.
3. Striking A Balance In Your Sex Life
"Sex can be a common argument in relationship, especially the frequency of it," Bennett says. In terms of how often you should be having sex, you might have one idea while your partner has another. And just like spending time together, if one of you would like to have sex more or less often than the other, it's easy to see how frustrations could build.
That said, it's totally possible to compromise. As Bennett says, you may find that it's all about focusing on quality over quantity. But if the situation is leading to arguments, it's something you may even want to chat about in couples therapy, to get some outside advice and perspective.
4. Showing Love Based On Your Love Languages
It can be important to talk about love languages, especially since "people receive the message they are loved and cared for in different ways," Sheila Tucker, LAMFT, a licensed associate marriage and family therapist and owner of Heart Mind & Soul Counseling, tells Bustle. "For some, acts of service speaks volumes. For others, it's physical touch or gifts."
A compromise can happen if you and your partner don't share the same love language, but still want to make each other feel comfy and cared for in the relationship. To do so, be honest and lay it all out on the table, so you both know what's up. Do you like physical touch? Do they like when you give little gifts? Make an effort to "speak" each other's love languages more often, even if it doesn't come naturally, in order to reach a compromise.
5. Making Travel Plans That Feel Fair
There are so many times in life when you'll need to bend your plans slightly for your partner, Tucker says, and nowhere will that be more likely than whilst on vacation. You might realize you have two very different definitions of the word "vacation," or that you have different goals for the trip. And that's OK.
One way to strike a balance is by talking it out beforehand, Tucker says. Start by making a list of all the experiences you'd like to have, and then trade off one-for-one with your partner. For each thing you add to the list, your partner should add something, and hopefully it'll result in an itinerary of things you both want to do, so nobody feels cheated.
6. Learning Each Other's Arguing Style
It's unlikely you and your partner will have the exact same arguing style. "For example, one person may need to just hash the problem out right away and be done with it. The other person may not ever want to discuss a problem and just bury it," Laura F. Dabney, MD, a Virginia-based psychiatrist and relationship therapist, tells Bustle.
And yet, do this too many times in a row, and it may start to feel like you don't understand each other. "In this situation a compromise is important," Dabney says. "You may need to discuss with each other a way that you can both communicate to each other effectively."
It can take a lot of effort to see things from each other's points of view, and "fight fair," to so speak. But it can be done if you're both willing to compromise.
7. Talking About Money
It can be tough to figure out all things money-related in your relationship, and yet it's necessary to do so in order to keep it fair and balanced. For example, "how money is spent is a critical component when you are both responsible for living arrangements," Lesli Doares, a couples consultant and coach, tells Bustle.
When you're maintaining an apartment together, you need to make sure neither of you feels overburdened, she says. A compromise can come in handy when divvying up bills, rent, and other contributions to your home, especially if you have different incomes. Every situation will be unique, but if the conversation is ongoing, it doesn't have to turn into a bitter fight.
It might even help to call it a negotiation, Doares says, instead of a compromise. "Negotiation means you are working towards a solution you both can embrace and implement," she says. "It makes it a win-win instead of compromise’s lose-lose. Instead of giving up or giving in, it’s about making a choice that works for you both." And no matter the situation, that's a mindset that'll be incredibly beneficial to your relationship.