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.
Forbes magazine debunked the idea that a habit can be formed in 21 days. That goes to show us that quick fix self-help won’t ingrain habits in the long run. However, active and consistent participation in self-help can maintain habits and provoke change. With honest conviction, we can change. So, yes, this will be hard, but I am going to get up and work out in the morning!
Unfortunately, no Smart phone app will directly induce weight loss, secure relationship happiness or help with job perseverance. Sure, devices make situations easier, but we can’t just turn on the treadmill and watch it rotate.
Too often we make temporary changes that won’t form lasting habits. We get motivated to work out because of our recent break-up. We stop smoking because of a bad cough. Don’t wait to form habits, form them daily!
Here are some tips to form habits and sustain them:
- Too Much Too Soon. Sometimes we start with high expectations for ourselves or we get burnt out on the rigid regiment that we have set for ourselves. Cut your beginning goals in half and build them over time. Start small.
- Know Yourself. Do you like variety? Do you need to be pushed? If you are not self-motivated to work out, a plain gym membership is not going to do you any good. You need classes, trainers, or a work out buddy. You need accountability. My friend went to this amazing local Pilates class. They had a cancellation fee so with finances being her priority, she got her butt to class. Do what works for you.
- Discipline. You have to be willing to meet your goals by setting them and achieving them often. Use SMART goals as a way to set up these goals. Set them often. Set them SMART.
- Excuses. Successful people will be the first to tell you that they don’t use excuses. You move forward, you take risks and you take responsibility. Change happens when we stop excusing and start doing.
- Give Yourself Grace. If you get stuck in a rut, have a pre-planned way to get out of it. Shame will keep you stuck. Give yourself grace to move forward.
- Reward Yourself. As adults we can have anything we want anytime we want it. Be your own parent. Allow yourself to have a treat, whether it is a new outfit or a fun vacation, but not until you reach a certain goal. If you are motivated for the reward, the system works.
I hope this article inspires your break-up bod to be your all- time bod! Get motivated and embrace change!
“A relationship is much like riding a horse: it is an action of constant rebalancing to achieve a place where both the partners are relaxed yet secure.”
Relationships take work, but here are six quick tips to make that journey a little smoother:
- Friendship. The best relationships have a solid foundation of friendship. You and your partner can learn to grow as friends. I suggest Love Maps by John Gottman, which you can find in the book: The Seven Principals For Making a Marriage Work
- Say Sorry. Saying sorry doesn’t mean that you are wrong, but it means that you are willing to be there to support and work on the relationship struggles with your partner. Repairing hurt is one of the fastest ways to maintain good balance in the relationship.
- Willingness to Grow. It is important that both partners are wiling to grow together. Sure, this may mean having to go to counseling or planning weekly dinners to talk about the relationship. But, hey, you take your car in for regular oil changes. Try my couple’s counseling class: Relationship Tune-Up and Repair to get a quick jump start on your relationship happiness. www.LaurieKcounseling.com
- Curiosity to Explore. You must meet life with the curiosity of getting to know people for who they are. Take time to explore and get to know one another. Like riding a bike, it might be harder in the beginning because you are working with one another’s attachment styles. (It is new) Be vulnerable by exploring yourselves together with openness and honesty.
- Give Kisses. Show caring support through physical affection, flirty texts, and loving calls to ask how their day was. This is a constant way to enhance the connection in your relationship. I suggest: 5 Love Languages quiz or book to learn how your partner feels cared for.
- Safety. Help one another to feel safe by showing up when your partner needs you. Never punish your partner by putting them in a time out. This will only remove safety for both of you. Attachment styles and patterns are the roots to who we are in our relationships. Check out: How We Love to understand more about how you respond and act in your relationship.
Above all, happiness in a relationship has to be accompanied by your own happiness. It is such an exciting adventure to get to share life with someone and to practice doing it well together.
We are nearly two weeks into the New Year. We have been faithful to our New Year’s resolutions for less than 4 percent of the whole year. How are you feeling about your resolution? Are you hyped up about the recent change? Or are you bummed out? I watch as dieters mope across the work hallways and hang their heads as they crash from lack of sugar and crave salty chips. We torture ourselves with high end goals but have a low end understanding of what it takes to keep them.
You probably have great intentions when it comes to persevering through this first month. The truth is only 8 percent of us keep our resolutions. What can you do to be a part of the winning few? I am eager to help you understand how to stay on track.
Lose the Victim: If you feel like a victim in the race to your resolution, failing is right around the corner. By victim, I mean the ideas and judgment that you have given your resolution; if the goal is good but your reactions to it are negative, it will be hard to keep. I’ve overheard people dieting this week say that they are upset, hangry, and unhappy. The self-talk, emotional responses, or judgments that we give to our goals can be defeating or encouraging, whatever we allow them to be. If we can interpret and evaluate the situation with positive regard, we make it better. Our mindset about our goal is important. Instead of negative statements and defeated talk, try positive reflection about the goal.
Check in with Yourself: Know what goals you can reach and be honest with yourself. Ask yourself, “What do I need to achieve this goal?” Set realistic goals and challenge yourself to keep those goals by “awarding” yourself something at the end of that goal (such as a massage or an overnight trip you’ve been putting off). An example: You resolve to work out more this New Year. Your goal is 20 workouts a month. Each month you reach that goal you get a massage. We go to work to get money. Money is the “prize”. Work is the “goal”.
Balance: Life is about balance. Too much or too little of anything is bad. Make sure your resolution is a balance of ways you want to better yourself this year.
Temptation: Most New Year’s resolutions include something that is going to link to temptation. So you have a list of foods that you can eat on that diet, but what is your plan for when tempting treats make their way into the office? If you resolve to save money, what is your plan to resist your favorite purchases or to not spend as much time at the restaurant you love? You need to have a plan in place to resist the temptations that are going to come along with that goal.
Remember, an important part of improving any part of our lives is an understanding of ourselves. Don’t be discouraged if your resolution isn’t working the way you planned, just reevaluate it. We get stoked on the social stimulation of the New Year’s resolution, but we can make improvements on ourselves at any time in our lives.
Let’s talk about relationship expectations. The expectations you have of your partner may lead to disappointment and brokenness when it comes to your romantic relationships. But don’t worry, I am not just going to sit here and tell you that your expectations are bullshit and that you are ridiculous for wanting your partner to call, to help with the dishes, or to split the bill. I am going to assist you in understanding how to alleviate the communication barriers of expectations. How are we ever going to find a resolution if we can not communicate effectively about the problem?
Couples should discuss the expectation that they have. They need to be able to communicate this early on in the relationship. Some expectations are derived from each individual. They may have come from pressures our parents put on us or from past dating experiences. However, some expectations are created within the relationship. When a couple first gets together they are excited to be sharing in one another. They might talk on the phone every day and this expectation is one that is created by the couple in the process of engaging in the relationship. If this stops suddenly, there may be some discrepancies in how both parties feel about it. It is important to know and understand which expectations were mutually created and which are individually brought into the relationship. This way you can get a better idea of how to properly handle each expectation.
I will utilize an example so we can process the helpful responses we will discuss later. Sally wants Harry to text her on Tuesday because he is out of town for work. Harry called her when he arrived to his hotel on Monday night; they chatted, said goodnight, and went to bed. On Tuesday, Harry got busy with work and had dinner with colleagues, so he called Sally late in the evening around ten p.m. Harry did not text or call during the day. Now they are on the phone and at this point Sally is already irritated because she was hoping to hear from him during the day since he is away on a business trip. Harry is unable to understand why if he spoke with Sally on Monday night and again tonight why it is such a big deal? So Sally goes on about how Harry doesn’t care and Harry tries to explain that he does. He gets defensive and she came into the conversation angry. Inside he feels like he failed and inside she feels like she isn’t cared about.
It becomes a dance that we see all too often; and honestly, it is normal in the context of a relationship. Especially in the beginning when we are learning about one another’s needs. If this type of behavior continues as the length of the relationship progresses and the parties are unable to communicate about it, we have to ask ourselves, why? We have to consciously make the decision to do something about it and not just blow off the other person.
Not to make it a battle of the sexes, but woman often verbalize and hold onto their expectations more. Men are like, Meh. They can passively get through the small expectations. The woman handles it with anger or sadness which makes the man feel like he let her down. There is nothing worse for a man than the feeling of failure or disappointment. It is ingrained in the man to be able to care for the needs of others in specific ways. If he feels like he failed, withdrawing is often the easiest response to an angry woman. The easiest response for the woman is anger when hurt is what she really feels.
In the story of Sally and Harry here are some helpful examples of alternative responses:
1. Sally could have sent a text to Harry and said “Hey sweetie, How is your day going?” If we have an expectation for someone else to do something, the easiest solution is to do it ourselves. (Starting with a pet name always creates positive energy.)
2. Sally could call and leave a message or verbalize to Harry that it was her fault that she is upset since she had the expectation for him to call. But maybe in the future he can make sure to have some form of contact during the day when away? (This is formed as a question because it is important that our partner have a say in the resolution and that we are not just demanding something.) Sally is openly communicating a need and placing the burden on herself rather than her partner. This can help the partner to feel empathetic rather than defensive.
3. Sally can self-reflect. Understanding why we need a certain behavior out of our partner is important. Sally may have had a negative past dating experience with a previous partner while away on a trip. It is important to discuss this with our partner, but also to take additional time to ourselves to reflect on how we might be able to change this expectation since it was not created in the current relationship.
If these don’t work because there is still defensiveness and anger even when just trying to communicate a problem, it might be time to look into couple’s therapy and have a third-party reflect with you on some good solutions and tools. We get our cars serviced. Relationships are no different. If you want it to “run well” you have to take care of it.
When is an expectation reasonable or unreasonable? How is this even decided? This type of reflection and answer is a process. I believe that I personally didn’t understand the expectations that I had for partners until I had personal therapy combined with experiences in dating. There has to be some self-reflection and self-awareness that takes place if we are going to change patterns that sabotage our relationships. Expectations can disrupt a relationship if not handled correctly.
If you are the type of person that doesn’t take constructive criticism well, you might find it difficult to self-reflect. You will be more defensive at the thought of changing something about yourself instead of being humbled by the opportunity. I urge you to do the same type of reflection and allow yourself to let that self-critic go. It is beneficial to be able to change difficult or unwelcoming patterns so you can have successful romantic relationships. Ultimately in successful relationships, partners need to be able to meet one another’s needs or expectations to a reasonable level. The environment of the relationship should feel like teamwork. When it doesn’t feel like teamwork bitterness and frustration come in. It is only fair that we partner for the long-haul with someone who is similar in nature. Specifically when this nature has to do with work-ethic which directly correlates with some expectations. I have yet to see anyone do a relationship perfectly, so we are all in this together. Relationships are hard work, but they yield the most rewarding happiness.
In fifth grade I had a crush on Daniel Johns. The lead singer of Australian rock band Silverchair had just released Frogstomp which yielded the famous song Tomorrow. A year later I fell in love with Stephan Jenkins. Anyone who knew me in middle school knew that Third Eye Blind was a staple in my musical life. I fell in love with every album that they created after the first. As my music and dating life both expand, I understand the arts of both music notes and commitment.
My taste in music developed much like our relationships do. We check out different albums and listen to new tunes. We learn what we can enjoy long-term as we go through dating. It is by these experiences that we better understand ourselves and our relationship needs. I learned along that way that what makes a great musician and what makes a great band are not created equal. The musician is the single part in the collaborative effort of the band. Much like a single person is a part of the collaborative effort in a relationship. Successful bands that stay together for years work hard to foster the relationships of its members. Bands break up and so do people. Bands succeed and so do relationships.
It is easy to be single. When you are a solo musician you have no one whose chords or lines you have to be in sync with. It takes less effort to be single than to be in an active healthy relationship. However, the rewards are said to have significant positive impacts on your health and your life. A relationship where you whole-heartedly learn the different music style of your partner and they learn yours. Where if you work together well enough those two different songs make much better music. I am not assuming it doesn’t take work to be a solo musician, but my argument is that you learn much more about yourself in the context of collaborative relationships with others. You develop the craft to be a better self when you are among others. Our culture is praising differences and independence; which leads to negative connotations when in a relationship. Some classics are “ball and chain”, “tied down” or “locked in.” It’s as if we forget that no one forced us into an exclusive relationship in the first place, but hey, we have to fight something or someone to regain control.
There is a mentality of individuality in our culture. There is a collaborative lack of commitment. I recall hearing a friend say this about not including her boyfriend in a recent decision, “It’s my body and I’ll get a tattoo if I want.” I thought to myself for a second. That is like the band that set up the play list and one member just decides that they want to begin with another song. Why are we so afraid to make collaborative decisions? You don’t loose your individuality by respecting the opinion of your partner. However, we seem to have become a society that believes the opposite.
Are we purposely becoming a society where individualism trumps hard work and collaboration? It is time we didn’t distinguish between the two. Relationships are complicated. They might be complicated because of the different ways people communicate. Maybe they are difficult because of differences in personality. But the most predominant reason that relationships are hard is because human behavior is difficult to understand. We have a ridiculous sense of having to be right and in control instead of understanding the work relationships take and humbly accepting that we can’t always be in control; that we must consider our partners opinion and needs.
As I approach 30, I can’t help but feel more and more happiness. I am so excited about getting older that when people ask me how old I am, I keep telling them, “I am going to be 30.” (I even realized the other day that I find a way to work in the age conversation just so I can tell people).
So, I thought I would share some of my recent thoughts on this time in my life. Your 20’s are for being clumsy. I call it the 20’s learning curve. But cheers to my cohorts who are leaving that learning curve for what our parents, teachers, relatives, and elders always wanted to train us for…… Life.
What You Just Can’t Know Until Your 30’s:
you should …love then adore
moderate don’t binge
don’t get fixated on the newest fad (feng shui zumba hot (I mean super hot) backwards upside-down yoga)
fall for someone then enjoy security
fight but stay
date then marry
gossip but only in compliments
stop complaining and love: your body, your mind, your spirit, and yourself
listen then talk: no seriously, just listen for a long number of minutes, think, then talk
learn then live
hurt but don’t blame
when the grass looks greener on the other side, just stop looking at the other side
enjoy freedom, but not until you establish discipline
lose and let go