Compromise vs. Collaboration in a Relationship

What is the difference between compromise and collaboration in a relationship?  Is one better than the other?  Is there something we can do to make sure that we are not giving more than the other person in our relationship?

Thank you to Dr. Kyle Weir for sparking my interest on this subject.  The word compromise is heard over and over again when we are talking about couples learning how to cope with each other’s differences.  (I have also used it several times myself.)  It was a concept that not only made sense, but had something that it could be measured against: sacrifice.  But is sacrifice really something that we want to do in a relationship?  The dictionary definition states that each side is making a concession.  That sounds easy.  Except for when you have two people inside of a relationship that are unwilling to budge on a matter and just want the other side to give in.

Humans are passionate when it comes to opinions.  Two people working towards a life together are going to come across a lot of them.  Compromise is something that is needed, but it is also something that assumes one partner will give in.  Collaboration on the other hand is working together towards a common goal.  Collaboration supposes that you already have the same goal in mind.  In a relationship, you should have similar or same goals in mind.  These goals include: what the future looks like and what passions you both have as individuals that you can work together towards in the relationship. In this journey, one partner may make compromises for the other, and then when the time comes the positions need to flip-flop.  You should never be the only person to compromise in the relationship.  During these times of compromise you should be collaborating towards the goal.

For example: if you have been offered a new job, your partner may have to compromise to move with you to keep the relationship going.  However, you will both have to collaborate about what this means for the other partners’ job or schooling.  A compromise can not take place unless you have discussed what that looks like.

At the beginning of a relationship, a couple tends to be directed towards either compromise or collaboration.  Too much of one person giving in at the beginning of the relationship can be a red flag that collaboration will not be part of the relationship.  A collaborative person will be present to work towards the relationship and making sure it is successful and happy.  These are items that we can asses early on in a relationship to understand our partner’s and our own investment in the relationship.

A relationship build on compromise (even though we have to make them at times) will not last, but a relationship build on collaboration will be able to stand difficulties and trials.

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