Why Compromise in Relationships Matters

What does it mean to compromise in a relationship?

There is good reason that some of the oldest advice when it comes to marriage and relationships is the need for compromise. When I was studying marriage therapy, one of my professors said something that really stood out and puts a great perspective on compromise. He said, “One of the hardest things for people to realize is that you are not married to yourself!!” What does this mean exactly?

Many people view the world based on their own life experiences. Every person has had different life experiences. Family-of-origin experiences are unique, people experience different types of trauma, have accomplishments, etc. All of these contribute to how people behave and react to different events in their lives. However, despite the unique experiences, people often still expect others to view the world as they see it.

This is often what leads to lack of compromise and understanding. It can contribute to partners having expectations of “mind-reading” and can cause a general feeling of not being understood. It is so important to try and think of your partners’ experiences and feelings when trying to discuss difficult topics. Typically, you can have empathy for your partner’s challenging life experiences, yet somehow in the midst of a difficult conversation or an argument, empathy leaves and typically you are thinking of how you feel.

This is normal and a means of self-protection, however it is not productive problem-solving. This is why compromise is so challenging. It takes extra effort and thought. When you are able to maintain an understanding of your partner during these difficult times, you’re more likely willing to compromise which will lead to more productive decision making.

Making the change: learning to compromise in your relationship.

Compromise is not only useful when it comes to challenging topics; it’s also very important in your expression of love! The idea of The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman, is a good example of this. It’s the idea that people give and receive love in different ways. Words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. If you and your partner have different languages, when you attempt to show your love to your partner they may not receive it because it is not their language.

If you can understand that your partner appreciates gifts, although you do not, it’s important to put effort into this area of showing your partner love and that they do the same for you in your language. While this is a more pleasant example of compromise, it still takes effort because it is attempting to do something that does not naturally come to you. Couples therapy can help you break that barrier.

When we learn to compromise it reflects a deeper understanding of our partners. This leads to a happier and more fulfilling relationship.

Signs You May Need Couples Therapy

6 Signs Your Relationship May Need Marriage Counseling

There are often common signs you need marriage counseling. Have you found yourself questioning if couples therapy is something you and your partner need? Many couples (married or not) go through this at some point in their relationship. Too often people quickly shy away from the idea because of feelings of shame as well as just not having the right information about what it truly means to be in therapy. Here are a few common signs that couples therapy may be a good fit for you and your partner.

#1 – You find yourselves having the same argument over and over.

When you and your partner keep coming back to the same argument it’s often a sign of a lack of understanding and/or unwillingness to compromise. It can also indicate unresolved emotional hurt and resentment that needs to be addressed. This cycle can be extremely painful and frustrating for couples. Often having an unbiased third party allows the couple to put this in perspective.

#2 – There has been a trauma in the relationship (infidelity, loss, etc.).

In this case, there needs to be an increase in empathy and rebuilding of trust. There is also sometimes a need to reevaluate boundaries within the relationship.

#3 – Issues with communication: lack of talking, negative talk or fear to talk.

I know you’ve heard it before – communication is everything! And while it may not be everything, it certainly is a vital part of any relationship. Communication breakdown has a serious impact on the couples ability to function in the relationship. If you and your partner are finding it increasingly difficult to speak to each other, couples therapy would be a great help. By using specific techniques your therapist can set you and your partner up for success with communication.

#4 – Challenges with intimacy or using affection as currency.

There are many emotional and physical factors that can get in the way of intimacy. Lack of trust, communication difficulties, children, physical changes to the body (menopause, impotence, etc.), and withholding sex as punishment. When any of these or other challenges present themselves it’s helpful to talk to a therapist. Some couples may feel embarrassed or have shame around the topic of sex however it’s a very common issues couples face. Not discussing the topic only enhances the problem!

#5 – Lack of trust with finances.

If you and your partner have different views on how to manage finances and you can’t come to some compromise, therapy will likely be helpful. Your different approaches to managing finances can create larger issues such as hiding money or spending, and therefore mistrust in each other.

#6 – You live as roommates.

You and your partner do not have to have all of the same hobbies and interests however, it is important that you do have shared experiences together and feel engaged with one another. If you find yourselves “living as roommates,” meaning you basically don’t engage with each other at home and feel disconnected, you stay out of each other’s way and don’t talk much, couples therapy will be a good way to address why this has begun and to start finding ways to reconnect with each other.

Marriage Counseling Helps Build Happy Relationships

Relationship or marriage therapy is not about picking apart the couple to find flaws. It is meant to be a tool to help increase awareness and address underlying emotional challenges that impact behavior. In addition, it can help increase the positive behaviors that already exist in the relationship so you and your partner can have a successful and happy relationship.

How Our Devices Are Impacting Our Relationships and What You Can Do About It

Disconnect between couples, emotionally, physically, and mentally is something I see frequently in my practice. When technology is affecting relationships there is often clear distress between the couple. They discuss what they would like their partners to do more of to help feel connected. While this is a necessary part of reconnecting, I find that couples often avoid the concept of removing items or distractions that contribute to this disconnect from their lives. Not surprisingly, smartphones and other electronic devices are the most popular distractions of choice!

Some effects of these distractions on our everyday lives are: a lack of mindfulness, lack of communication, and stress and separation anxiety. All of these side effects contribute to disconnect from our partners. So, if you are interested in enhancing your relationship and improving your connection with your partner, here are some tips I often suggest to my clients:

4 Ways to Prevent Technology From Impacting Your Relationship

Negative Effects Of Technology On Relationships1. Have a device-free hour
Okay…so if you think you might go through some withdrawals during that hour and it feels overwhelming, start with 20 minutes and gradually build up to an hour. This isn’t meant to be anxiety-inducing, but a positive time for you and your partner (or family) to put the phones and electronics away and have some quality time.

2. Turn off the notifications a half-hour before bedtime
This will help create a positive bedtime routine for you and your partner, which can also greatly improve intimacy and feeling connected. Additionally, the combination of being stimulated by the phone and the potential of it waking you up throughout the night has negative impacts on sleep – so turning off the notifications can also improve your sleep!

3. Find an activity to do together
Binge watching Game of Thrones doesn’t count – sorry! Once a week, choose an activity that you enjoy doing together, and make time for it. Some examples are cooking, exercising, going for a walk, or going to a museum.

4. Become present
Lack of mindfulness is one of the big impacts of using our smartphones. Have you ever had that moment where you think “how did I get here?” despite having been walking down the city streets for about 10 minutes? Or, “what did my partner just say?” There are different techniques you can do (besides putting the phone down) to become more present. One great option is incorporating a meditation practice into your life – there are some great guided meditations for beginners. Some other methods you can do is focus on your breathing or other sensations in your body; you can also take a moment to take in your surroundings – what are you hearing, seeing, smelling, etc. Becoming present and mindful is not only useful for you to become more connected with your partner, but maybe even more importantly, you become more connected to yourself.

What I would suggest is starting with one of these four tips. Once you feel you’ve been able to successfully incorporate one into your routine, then add another, and so on. It’s easy to get caught up in our day to day and sucked into our devices but taking that extra effort to disconnect from our electronics and connect with our partners can make all the difference for a happy and healthy relationship.

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