Monday Notes: Compromise: A Definition

Dwight enjoys watching Marvel movies. Me? Not so much. I’ve written before about how as I learned what I liked and disliked, sitting through the same superhero trope was one of the first things to go. However, Dwight values these movies and sees them as a way to introduce me to something he used to enjoy as a child—reading comic books and seeing them come to life in film. Because I recognized this, I told him I would watch one a year with him. 

This, according to Collins dictionary, is a compromise, a situation in which people accept something slightly different from what they really want, because of circumstances or because they are considering the wishes of other people.  

For the past eight years or so, I’ve been declaring that I no longer compromise in relationships, but this isn’t true*. A compromise implies that both parties get something out of an agreement. In this case, I watch fewer Marvel movies with my husband, but he knows I’m fully devoted to at least one per year. We’ve both compromised what we want to happen. 

Here’s what I actually no longer do:

Acquiesce

Collins dictionary says if you acquiesce in something, you agree to do what someone wants or accept what they do even though you may not agree with it. In my Marvel example, acquiescing would mean I say, “Alriiiight. I’ll go,” and not only watch Spider-man: No Way Home, but also Shanghai and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Eternals, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. That’s not a compromise; that’s giving in, and in this scenario, only Dwight would get what he wants.

Prioritize Others’ Desires over My Own

If I prioritized Dwight’s wants over my own, then I would continue watching Marvel movies even when I’d rather be reading a book or writing a new blog post. That wouldn’t be a compromise because I would be either ignoring my needs or putting my desires last (and also sending a message that what I want doesn’t matter as much as what my husband wants). Again, only Dwight would be benefitting in this situation.

ONLY Prioritize My Wants

Doing what you want, regardless of what others want implies a type of selfishness. I care about my husband, his values, and desires. If I didn’t, then I would’ve told him I’m bowing out of all Marvel movies, at the theater and at home. But sometimes he’ll say, “Hey Bay! I really think you’ll like this one,” and I’ll listen to his reason and make a decision. That’s how I ended up watching Doctor Strange in 2016. And he was right. I did like the movie and its concept. 

A Final Word

A lot of us think we’re compromising, when really we’re acquiescing to someone else’s desires or asking someone to give in to ours. Although I’ve based my example on a romantic relationship, these ideas also apply to familial relationships and friendships. For example, family members seem to think you’re supposed to prioritize their needs over your own a disproportionate number of times and innumerable ways (i.e., calling, visiting, spending time), simply because they’re family. And friends oftentimes have selfish requests where one person’s wants end up frequently prioritized with no regard for the other person’s time or circumstances. 

True compromise, however, is a win-win for all parties involved. It shouldn’t involve manipulation, selfishness, or crossing of boundaries. It should feel as if you and the other person have met in the middle. So, what do you think? Do your relationships include compromise or something else?

*Thanks to Rob over at Friends without Borders for prompting me to think about this a little deeper.


58 thoughts on “Monday Notes: Compromise: A Definition

    1. I think many of us have, so there’s solace in that, I guess. Once you know, though, the challenging part can be backtracking and creating new compromise rules; this usually pisses people off.

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  1. Compromise should be exactly what you said, each party gives something and the end result is pleasing to both of them. This works with small things like having a meatless meal once a week forgetting hubby grow a beard in winter. But some decisions in life are all or nothing, like having kids. Once you’ve decided to have one, there is no going back, there is no returning it to the stork or being a parent but only on weekends. You have to decide what things are deal-breakers and hammer out the ground rules from the get-go or you’re asking for trouble in the long run. Compromise is fine tuning.

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    1. Now, we’re getting into the real discussion, right? That’s why I used going to the movies as an example. It’s pretty low stakes (for us, anyway). I think when we start talking about if one person wants kids and the other doesn’t, we’re talking about compromising beliefs and ideals, maybe? But I’ve seen this in real life. One spouse doesn’t want kids; the other does; eventually, someone wears the other one down, which still leads to that giving in energy, but to your point, with something so large, giving in to something that effects your (and others’ lives) will definitely wreak havoc.

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      1. Right on, KE. To have a successful relationship, find a person who agrees with you on big things and is willing to compromise on smaller ones. I’m not a Marvel fan either and dislike movie theaters, esp now, with COVID lurking. Too hard to hear, missing chunks of the movie during potty breaks, snacks that cost a fortune, neck strain from sitting in hubby’s favorite spot, the front row. We buy the movie as soon as available and stream it at home, where we can have the “theater” to ourselves, adjust the volume, turn on closed captions, pause, grab a soda or snack from the kitchen. Plus, we own the movie so hubby can watch it as many times as he wants. He misses the theater atmosphere but is sold on the other advantages of watching at home.

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  2. I like this a lot, Kathy. All the words you explore here are important, and even more important is to know the difference. Well, all I can say sometimes I win, sometimes my husband does… I guess that’s a win-win situation…lol 😀

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  3. Haha me and my guy used to watch super hero movies , recently we decided to give them up . It got to be too much with the interconnected stories lol . But yeah there’s definitely some musical differences that we have , I dislike some of his groups or bands and he doesn’t care to listen to some of mine . It’s all good though , we have other things that we do like. Plus sometimes I drag him to an 8 hour concert so we can complain about the opening acts together lol

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      1. Yeah I feel the newer movies have gotten a lot more easter egg heavy . You have to have watched two or three other movies or shows before watching said movie . Its a bit much lol
        And yeah the 8 hour concert can be hit or miss . I remember sitting through a band called Tooth grinder and trying my best to just stand still . Ugh ! Terrible 😅

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  4. While I do think that a part of friendship is sometimes doing things we don’t want to because a friend needs us to, I agree that it is easy to see “giving in” as compromise. Sacrifice isn’t compromise, and it’s important to see the difference so that we aren’t sacrificing ourselves more often than is good for us.

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    1. SACRIFICE! That’s the word that was missing, or maybe sacrifice deserves its own post. I’m thinking. I do think we do a lot of these things under the guise of compromise, including sacrifice and then get all angry when we’ve been doing it too much.

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      1. I agree! Yes, all relationships entail some level of sacrifice, but the key word is “level.” We get to determine how much time and effort a relationship is worth (even with family, I believe, although I know lots of people don’t). Personally, I tend to be too much of a pleaser, saying yes to things I don’t want to say yes to, and then getting all bitchy because I’ve taken on too many obligations I don’t want to take on. So I’m working very hard at learning to set boundaries and making intentional decisions about what I say yes to. I’m willing to sacrifice, but I’m not willing to live a life that consists of too much sacrifice, you know?

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      2. “we get to determine how much time and effort a relationship is worth” I AGREE 100% That’s the boundary part.

        Sacrificing too much and people pleasing seem to go hand-in-hand, and lol about then being all bitchy…that’s when I decided not to do it anymore. We get mad even though we’re the ones who committed to all of the things, so really the only one we can be mad at is…ourselves lol

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  5. I loved reading of this distinction – it makes a difference what words we use and how we actually apply the meaning in our life. Often Aquiensce becomes what can be called as one-sided compromise which eventually becomes an expectation. In true compromise there is acknowledging and understanding by both parties.

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    1. “…which eventually becomes an EXPECTATION!” YES! This happens, especially when we don’t make it clear that we’re really giving in, or sacrificing, or whatever, and we do it repeatedly without any conversation.

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  6. I love that you framed these words with better definitions. When someone expects you to compromise but it’s really acquiescence, there are likely to be problems. Compromise involves agreed upon decisions.

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    1. Thanks, Laura! I think that we throw terms around, like compromise, without ever really thinking about what they really mean or are supposed to mean, you know? Then, we’re all mad when we think we’ve been compromising, and really we’ve been acquiescing :-/

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      1. Exactly! Compromise is supposed to be a win-win and acquiescing is not that at all. In completely other news, I listened to Will Smith’s memoir at your suggestion and I liked it a lot. A few too many pats on his own back, but definitely worth listening to. I also just finished listening to Viola Davis’s memoir and it is rough and raw in the beginning , just like her life was. It was so powerful and and I’m recommending it to anyone who likes audiobooks.

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      2. lol about Will’s lack of humility lol

        Do you see how he probably has some more healing to do?

        I saw Oprah’s interview with Viola. Her story sounds super sad. I also keep swearing not to read another celebrity memoir, but it sounds like I should read hers, too?

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      3. I like memoirs as audiobooks because they are typically read by the author and the voice really makes it come alive. I use my library for audiobooks so when they come in from my hold shelf, I can download or delay. Probably won’t choose another memoir right away.

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  7. You’re right, Kathy, it’s easy to confuse compromising and giving in. True compromise is a skill that takes self-awareness, confidence, comfort with establishing boundaries, and practice. It took me until almost 60 to get it right, and I still need to check myself at times.

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    1. “is a skill that takes self-awareness, confidence, comfort with establishing boundaries, and practice” YES, Natalie! It is no easy feat. I’m not surprised that it takes us so long to learn this, because we’re taught our whole lives how to give in (through manipulation). Kudos to you and all of us who’ve had to unlearn and relearn all of the things ❤

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  8. This was a very thought provoking subject for me, Katherin. I believe that for most of my life I acquiesced – especially with a very domineering mother who wouldn’t allow for any compromise with her strong religious beliefs. In my marriage and raising my children, I subjugated my needs to the point that I didn’t even know what I wanted.
    What a contrast to where I am now! I really don’t have to compromise at all and I am able to do whatever I want to. My younger son would love for me to see a superhero movie with him, but I pass every time. I did it already for many years! Instead, we find things to do together that we both enjoy. I probably would have had a better marriage if I would have allowed myself to express my needs. Bravo to you and Dwight for letting love guide you to those compromises.

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    1. Thank you, Judy, and thank you for sharing this. I’m glad you mentioned your mother, because I believe, it is in our families that we learn how to give in or sometimes how to give away our power or that what we want and need doesn’t matter. That can then lead to the ways we function in our romantic (and other) relationships.

      Don’t you think what you’ve described is compromise with your son (which is a good thing)?

      Thank you, too, for that compliment. We do a lot of talking things through to better understand one another ❤

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  9. I think it’s great to share things we love with others, but I’m well aware that I can only talk to my brothers and one friend about Marvel anything because that’s what we grew up with. Nobody else is interested although it’s kinda fun to watch their eyes roll back in their heads when I get going if they are foolish enough to ask me a question. LOL. I’m with you on the acquiescing, though, and at this point, it’s not a thing I do very often. So, one question. What’s your Marvel movie for the year? LOL.

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  10. I LOVE this post because it really dives into the nitty gritty of real life relationship stuff. And I think not enough people talk about all the nuances between men and women in a love partnership. I also appreciate this compromise. Not gonna lie, I LOVE Marvel movies and many of my friends are obsessed with them as well so it’s a way for us to all bond. Out of curiosity, what was your 2022 Marvel movie? Or are you banking it for later in the year?

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    1. This is so true, Libby. People just say compromise, and don’t give any examples…next thing you know, you’re giving in to someone else’s wishes all the time under the “compromise” umbrella lol

      Spider-Man when all the spidermen showed up.

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  11. Great commentary on compromise vs acquiesce! I used to acquiesce a lot, but that affected my health and self-esteem. Then I became more pushy for what I wanted. Some people thought I was too blunt. Now I think I try to compromise with people to a point, but I also have boundary lines that I will not cross, not even to get a compromise agreement. I have found it difficult with some people to get a compromise agreement, because our view points are far apart, or 1 of us is digging in our heels and not budging. In this American culture of divisiveness and violence, more and more people will not compromise. It’s their way all the way. That makes many relationships tense.

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    1. Thank you, Janet! Boundaries and compromise go hand-in-hand, I think, so thank you for adding that!

      Americans are definitely not at a point of compromising nowadays; it’s almost like it should be a skill to be taught 🙄

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Great post. Compromise is essential in human relationships, for those relationships to survive. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a romantic relationship, a supervisor relationship, or parent-child. You have to recognize the other’s needs and find a way to engage and meet them. Domineering and acquiescing are both disasters.

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  13. I’ve always said that compromise can’t be the only tool in the relationship toolbox because if you always compromise no one ever gets their way, and that leads to resentment and problems. Sometimes one person has to “win” if the issue/situation is that important to them.

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    1. Well, I guess if both parties are compromising, then both parties should (theoretically) be winning, but if one person is always acquiescing or giving in, then yeah…only the other person is winning and that leads to resentment, for sure.

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