“Compromise built upon compromise equals failure.” (Lysa Terkeurst from her book ‘Made to Crave’)
I learned a lot about compromise during my last relationship. I had always thought of compromise in a very positive manner-after all aren’t we told and taught that next to communication, that is what makes for a healthy and strong relationship? Aren’t we taught that when trying to merge your life with someone else, finding a middle ground-knowing when to give and when to take-is a necessity? I’ve heard it said plenty of times, “Relationships are all about compromise.” I can honestly say that after my last relationship, I have learned that compromising can be unhealthy and detrimental to a relationship if not applied properly by one or both parties…Let me explain…
Compromise in a relationship is a good thing when deciding things such as who is going to wash the dishes, walk the dog, change a diaper, pick a restaurant, where you’re going on vacation, etc and things of that nature. If you’re a neat freak who lives with a not so neat freak, the chances of your relationship surviving petty, trivial squabbles depends on if the two of you find a middle ground to stand on; a ground that allows both of you, in a sense,to have your needs met without one person’s selfishness taking over all the time. You know, give and take-you hash out an agreement that works for both of you and solves whatever issue has come up…Like I said, that’s the good, healthy, necessary side of compromise.
However, compromising isn’t beneficial to a relationship or the individuals involved if one or both people are compromising who they are to be together. And by who they are, I mean what makes up who they are as people. Not necessarily personality traits, but really what makes you, well YOU. Things like morals, values, beliefs, faith…things that at the core of your being define who you are as a person. These are the things that you should NEVER compromise on…why? Because when you start to place the person or even your relationship above the things that make you who you are, and you start to compromise to appease someone else(or in some cases you), a few things happen:
1) You start losing yourself and your essence-you’re no longer the person you started out being and you eventually evolve into an unrecognizable shell of your former self.
2) You become unhappy and dissatified with yourself and with your life. You might not even realize it at first, but it will start to manifest itself in tangible forms: depression, anger, resentment, bitterness, moodiness, hypersensitivity, stagnation…you’ll be upset and angry at the person you’re with-starting arguments with them or being overly critical of them without even knowing why. Molehills become mountains in your relationship and will have you questioning what the hell you’re doing.
3) You won’t be able to stop compromising. Lysa’s quote at the beginning of this post describes this type of compromise like a snowball effect-do it once and it will unwittingly become a habit-before you know it, it will become second nature. You’ll lose sight of your needs, your desires, your standards and expectations, and almost unwittingly become concerned only with what the other person wants. This form of compromise is debilitating-its like dying a slow death…
4) Your relationship will fail-either because you finally wake up one day and realize what you’re doing and decide enough is enough-no more compromising OR you’ve (and your partner) become so miserable of a person that the environment the both of you has created has choked all the life and potential out of your relationship. I’m pretty sure that when you run the autopsy report, you’ll find an unhealthy application of compromise at the heart of the matter.
How do I know this? Well, I’ve spent the last almost 2 years living it. I was with a great person, and while they respected my beliefs, they didn’t share them. Polar opposites in that department. And I held my ground and held on tight to my faith in every area but one: sex. Now, let me explain something here, and I’m going to be very honest. As a Christian, sex is the major temptation I give into. Now before you go thinking I’m some promiscuous whore, I’ll tell you that I’m not. I don’t have sex with any and everyone-that’s not my style. Casual sex with random people isn’t my idea of a good time, I don’t care how long its been since I’ve “done” it. But when I’m in a monogamous, commited dating relationship, I can only hold out for so long before I give in. I know its wrong, I know I shouldn’t, I know what the Bible says about it, but that’s the truth-I struggle with it. My flesh and selfishness tries to get in the way
and sometimes I let it, so it does. Major character flaw, yes I know. And since I’m laying it all out there I should also say that I don’t always find myself giving into it because I just want to have sex-sometimes my compromise is driven out of a need to be accepted-sometimes its purely performance driven; if I have sex with him, he’ll love me, accept me, and want to be with me. Its your classic, textbook description of a girl who’s dad didn’t validate who she was growing up. Daddy didn’t affirm who I am, or help me establish a healthy relationship or perspective on men, so I sometimes date losers…and give in to the pressure to have sex with them-whether its applied by them, or by myself.
My ex wasn’t, isn’t a loser though. He’s probably the best man I’ve ever been with. But even with his respecting my beliefs, I still caved. I didn’t intend to, I didn’t want to, at least not at first, but I did. I allowed how I was feeling 2 years ago to validate and justify my pleasing myself…and once I started, it snowballed-I struggled with stopping. And my struggle, the inner turmoil I was experiencing as a result of my compromising, manifested itself in my life and in my relationship…disappointment, resentment, anger, guilt, shame, moodiness, depression, molehills became mountains, I couldn’t effectively communicate what I was feeling…arguments…I had another child…and ultimately my relationship, despite both of our efforts to make it work, failed. Miserably. We’re still awesome friends…but our relationship is dead and I don’t know if it can or will be ressurected….or even if it should be. If by some miracle it does come back to life, I at least know what NOT to do. I can blame our demise on my issues, or his supposed shortcomings, but ultimately, I really just have my unhealthy application of compromising to blame. If only I hadn’t sacrificed what is an integral piece of who I am, who knows what would have happened? Maybe I’d be where I want to be…perhaps I wouldn’t be struggling as much as I am now to pull myself together….who knows…
Do I regret compromising? Hmmmmm. Tough question to answer, because going through the experience has taught me some valuable lessons-especially about myself. Going through that has made me take a long hard look at myself and has pushed me to deal with some of the junk that’s at the root of it all-daddy issues and such. I do however, regret the effects my disobedience had-on my kids,on my health, on my ex…and most importantly, on my relationship with God. I can’t begin to put into words how sorry I am about grieving Him with my actions-compromising and putting myself first before Him. I’m just grateful that He’s merciful and that He’s forgiven me. I’m grateful that this experience has taught me how to be honest and open before Him, and that I finally understand what it means when the Bible says that He is a jealous God.
And you know what? I’m also sorry that I wasn’t a better witness for my Savior. I wasn’t salt and light to the world in this situation, and that’s the awful thing about compromising such a vital organ like faith-it taints and tarnishes the image you are supposed to reflect in the eyes of a non believer. It’s true worth and value don’t have the chance to shine through-Compromising dulls its brilliance and mars its attractiveness.
So…yea…that’s the lesson I’ve learned about compromise. Its only healthy when you’re not doing it to the detriment of yourself or others. Its supposed to be a tool increases the betterment of something, not one that depreciates the value of who you are.
Well, that’s a small portion of my humanity laid bare for you to see. Like I’ve mentioned before I’m transparent to help others-there’s no narcissism or vanity to be found in my motives in sharing my life with people. I call it butterfly “confessions” in the hopes that my openess helps someone with what they are going through…so yea, there you have it.