When people talk about compromise, I get the impression that they mean splitting things down the middle, 50/50. But I’ve been giving the idea some thought lately, and I’ve come up with my own interpretation.

I was speaking with a friend on the topic recently, and told her that I don’t like the idea of compromise meaning splitting everything 50/50.  Doesn’t that kind of thinking create a system that’s open to abuse?  Couldn’t someone take a situation and say, “I’ve given you five things today and you’ve only given me four – so you have to give me what I want now.”?  Alternatively, what if we have a bad day and need more than 50%?  This model doesn’t account for that at all.

Instead, I told her that, to me, compromise means accepting that sometimes you have to split things 70/30, or 30/70.  Some days you need to give someone your 10 out of 10, and those days you don’t get anything.  Other days, you’ll need the 10 out of 10 yourself.

I told her that I think compromise is being graceful about accepting the ebb and flow of a relationship.  Compromise is acknowledging that the word has nothing to do with fair, and everything to do with respect.  Compromise means caring for someone else, but it also means caring for yourself.

If someone only takes but never gives, that is not compromise.  Those we love sometimes have periods in their lives when they need us to give more, and that’s OK.  But make sure they reciprocate.  Do not feed someone who is always hungry for more.  Do not share with someone who never shares.

Instead, seek out those who give joyfully, and respectfully request.  Offer your best, and be mindful of what others offer you.  Don’t be too proud to ask for help, and do not destroy yourself in the process of giving aid.

That is what compromise means to me.

1 Comment

  1. This is great advice: “do not destroy yourself in the process of giving aid.” It is important to mind the ebb and flow of any relationship, as you have pointed out. But after we’ve done our fair share of giving, sometimes we can forget that we were carrying others on our shoulders, even when they didn’t need the extra support.

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