Making compromises are not always easy, but often necessary in long term relationships. Sometimes they are fair and someimes they are not.

But how does that work? Is one person always expected to be the one who compromises ? Or does a couple take turns? Or how does it get decided who and when a compromise is made? There’s a simple answer – there are no rules. Though this is not a satisfying answer it can be comforting as each situation can be decided on a case by case basis. It is not a matter of fair. In a good realtionship, ideally decisions are made for the good of the relationship and not necessarily for one person or the other.

Take for example a couple with a six month old baby who frequently gets up at night. Who gets up to tend to the child? A compromise could look many different ways. In one scenario the couple could alternate and take turns getting up. This looks completely fair… Or possibly it ‘s not, if the baby goes right back to sleep on one parent’s turn and is up for 45 minutes on the other parent’s turn, is that fair? So even if conceptually the compromise is equal and fair, it may turn out not to be. Is that ok? In another scenario, one parent can decide that he or she will care for the baby on a particular night because the other parent has a particularly long and stressful day ahead and this break from childcare is given as a gift. The baby may wake up 3 times that night. This is a gift. These kinds of “gifts” are ideally returned in similar ways at other times. And possibly when the gift is returned the baby will be up half the night or not at all! Is that ok? Or maybe one parent decides that he or she will always be the one to wake up at night because s/he can more easily go back to sleep and the compromise is that the other parent takes the baby on a weekend morning so this parent can sleep in. Is that compromise ok?

The answer is that if the compromise is ok for the couple, then it’s ok. The issue is, has the couple discussed it and agreed on a conclusion and not just left the situation to end in default. Default is when there is often conflict and hurt feelings. It is truly a fact that when issues are discussed and agreed upon before hand, the ending is generally more satisfying for both parties.

Compromises are made in so many areas and it requires a give and take and a feeling of good will. Compromises are often made with concrete issues as the baby crying or household chores, but compromises can also be made in other circumstances. Partners in couples will often go places and do things for one another that they woundn’t necessarily choose to do because they are being “generous” to the other. When people give to one another in this way and make compromises for the other person, it increases trust in the relationship. The more one does for the other, the more it comes back. Then the feeling of compromise doesn’t feel so big.