While I was growing up, I heard many times that the secret to a good marriage (that was the goal in those days) was compromise. As I moved into some of my first relationships, I attempted to compromise but I didn’t really understand what that word meant. I presumed it was putting my needs in the back seat in order to give first to another.
That didn’t go well.
By devaluing my own needs, I ended up feeling resentful and angry.
Although I grew into more mature relationships and eventually married, my way of compromising endured. In order to keep my discontent in check, I began to berate myself for even having needs.
After breaking up with my boyfriend and getting back together 3 times over the last 5 years, I finally understood what I had to change.
It’s taken me 35 years to reach this a-ha moment, but I got here!
In my current relationship, I’ve learned that there are some essential needs that I must have fulfilled, such as alone time, time with friends, and the respectful space to pursue my interests. Failing to achieve those, I become unhappy, irritable and I start to blame my guy.
I have discovered the secret to long-lasting love and happiness in a relationship: it’s getting your essential needs met, and compromising in other ways to make your partner happy. In other words, it’s a healthy balance of self-love AND partner-love.
Once my essential needs are met, I found that there are many areas in which I can compromise.
Now, it’s also important to understand the definition of compromise. It’s a settlement of differences by mutual concessions.
In fact, providing for my boyfriend’s needs is a way I show my love for him, and that feels great.
The key to working this all out is two-fold:
1. Get clear with yourself about what your essential needs are.
2. Communicate them to your partner in a kind and loving way.
Sounds simple, right? Yet, telling my boyfriend what I needed from him was soooo difficult. I felt like I was continually disappointing him if I didn’t meet his needs and desires which seemed to be in conflict with mine.
On a deeper level, I felt selfish expressing my needs, and undeserving of having them met.
Whoa! Where did that come from?
Long ago, in a little village called Hollywood, California, lived a little girl who decided she wasn’t good enough. After that decision, she looked for and found evidence everywhere that this was true. As she grew up, she gave up her own needs in favor of everyone else’s to appear nice, to be liked, and so no one would know how imperfect she really was. And she lived unhappily ever after.
What a tall tale that it is…
Here’s the truth: When my physical needs, like food and shelter, go unmet, I am unable to sustain life and I have nothing in reserve to give others. Additionally, I become unhappy, irritable and resentful of those who won’t share their food and shelter. The same goes for my emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs.
Funny enough, I looked around and found that we all have essential needs, and we all need each other. Somehow, having needs turned into being needy – which has gotten a bad rap.
Once I was able to see these facts instead of looking at it through my “selfish and undeserving” lens, I saw that my relationship would fall apart if I didn’t speak up. In fact, that was one of the big reasons why my boyfriend and I had broken up so many times. From this new perspective, I found the courage to request what I needed from my boyfriend.
Stay tuned for The Secret to Long-Lasting Love and Happiness in a Relationship, Part 2 where I reveal what I said to him. You’ll never guess his response…
How do you handle compromise? Express yourself in the comment box below.