How to compromise with your partner

By: Kait Fowlie

© Photography Author: Canadian Living Credits: © Photography


How to compromise with your partner

By: Kait Fowlie
Compromise is key when it comes to maintaining a strong relationship. But where do you draw the line between healthy negotiation and making an unfair sacrifice? Finding a balance can take work, but it doesn't have to seem like an insurmountable task.

We turned to Nancy Ross, a Toronto-based couple therapist for some answers. She believes the healthiest couples work toward communicating their way to a new situation that works for both parties.

"I believe in fully sharing why you want something specific and fully understanding what your partner wants in order to create something both of you will be happy with," says Ross. She shares some strategies you and your partner can use to reach that mutually satisfying middle ground.

1. Communicate to identify your points of difference
Practising open communication is the most important part of dealing with any issue in a healthy relationship. To reach a satisfactory agreement, you and your partner must both discuss what you want and why you want it.

"The agreement in a loving, committed relationship needs to be that everything is talked about. When you find you disagree, share why you feel the way you feel about that issue," advises Ross. "Every issue is discussable."

2. Understand that your partner's beliefs have merit
Even if you don't share the same beliefs, you must respect your partner's ideas and you should expect your partner to respect yours.

"Take into account that what your partner feels is the truth for them. It may not be how you see it, but it absolutely has merit," says Ross.

Remember that you both may be used to dealing with things in different ways, and the way you deal with things is done so for a reason. If you don't treat your partner's beliefs with respect, you won't be able to truly reconcile your differences, she explains.

Page 1 of 2 -- Discover three more helpful ways to compromise with your partner on page 2. 3. Focus on understanding, not agreeing
It's important to understand that reaching a compromise doesn't necessarily mean that you and your partner have to see eye-to-eye on an issue. What matters most is that you both feel heard and understood.

"The trick is in understanding, not agreeing," says Ross. Being able to say, "I can understand why you would feel that way" can go a long way toward helping you reach a compromise, she explains. "The deeper the sharing, the more authentic and transparent each of you becomes, and the more you will be able to come to a place that you can both agree on."

4. Adopt a team mentality
Shift your perspective from "I" to "we" when trying to reach an agreement. In single life, we don't have to consider other perspectives when it comes to making decisions, but in a relationship, the process has to include both your and your partner's perspectives.

"You can absolutely be independent and be your own self. However, you need to always lead with 'us' or ‘we,' and never 'I,' so you are a team," advises Ross. "You need to learn to stretch and grow and do things in a new way."

Rather than considering your losses or gains as individuals, switch your perspective. Being part of a relationship is a different way of living life, and adopting a team mentality will help you live it more successfully.

5. Don't be resentful
Being bitter toward your partner will only create tension in your relationship. Ross suggests a simple but effective agreement for you and your partner to come to.

"Because I love you and you love me, together we will figure this out and neither of us will resent or be passive aggressive about our decision. We will choose to settle and let go of resentments, hurts and disappointments," she says.

By adopting this mentality you will be much better equipped to keep your relationship strong.

While you and your partner can't expect to be of the same opinion on every topic, it's important that you learn to understand each other and commit to working together to resolve conflict in a way that works for both of you.

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How to compromise with your partner