How many of us are focused on being right even at the expense of our own happiness? We may even cause ourselves more pain and turmoil just to prove a point. Sometimes our pride, need for control, and/or insecurity gets in the way. Fear can also play a part since we may be fearful of being perceived poorly, making a mistake, or being rejected by others. We hang on tightly to control and can’t let it go. This is a common problem in relationships when couples get polarized because they both feel they are right. Couples spend an inordinate amount of time and energy trying to persuade their partner to perceive things their way which in their mind is the only way. The reality is that there are many different ways to view and approach life and fixating on only one way keeps us stuck and detached from others. For many people letting go of their perspective, opinion, and/or mindset takes tremendous energy and courage.
We all have differences in our approach and attitude when it comes to finances, parenting, politics, religion, education, etc. but we need to respect each other’s viewpoint and learn to compromise. Author Alex Lickerman, M.D., who wrote The Undefeated Mind: On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible Self believes that the art of compromising is the key to healthy relationships. He contends that small compromises, which he calls microcompromises, add up to big issues. Dr. Lickerman offers three solutions: accept that compromise is a part of all relationships (we don’t have the freedom to do what we wish), acknowledge responsibility and choice in our decision to be in a relationship, and lastly to view each microcompromise as a gift to your spouse. He feels that the key to a healthy relationship is that “microcompromises are gifts that need to be exchanged rather than demands that need to be wrung from the other person.” We also need to avoid keeping score on the frequency and magnitude of compromising since this will create resentment and detachment.
The irony is that there are times when we are right, but our delivery and presentation are horrible. On occasion we may need to choose to say nothing and let sleeping dogs lie since our emotions might get the best of us. Even though I often preach to speak your mind, be assertive, and communicate constructively, there are times when letting it slide or saying nothing is best. Whether the conflict is of a personal or professional nature we should wait to respond, consult others, consider the consequences of our response, and capture the emotions rather than displacing them. Personally, prayer helps me to reflect and discern the best approach. Healthy relationships come from mutual respect, healthy compromise, and shared decisions. Remember that accepting our differences works better than trying to change each other.