There’s a funny game in intimate relationships, we can play the compromise or the no-compromise game. The compromise game typically comes up when values or personal boundaries seem to be in conflict and the best solution appears to be making a compromise. This game means both either lose a bit, or there is a win/lose situation. Either way, without taking responsibility for allowing the compromise, we make a deposit to the relationship resentment bank. It’s just a matter of time before the resentment builds and creeps into communication by snide remarks, sarcasm, put-downs or shaming – this is not sustainable for a relationship to thrive.
Personally, I like to play the game of no-compromise and really enjoy the amazing abundance of win/win situations that come forth. The way I see things in my own intimate relationship when things come up, rather than negotiating, I am looking to discover and learn more about myself and the other by really dwelling in the needs and seeing what emerges. I like to leave negotiating to when I am communicating, say with trades people to build me a shed or something. My intimate relating is not like a business negotiation in this way.
This doesn’t mean that my intimate relating is free from resentment or compromising situations. I can accidentally allow someone else to oppress me or step past my personal boundaries. At first it may seem fair to blame the other person for doing this or that. No offence to children, but this is kind of a childish approach, blaming and complaining about what I’ve allowed to happen. When I realise, I’ve accidentally allowed some form of compromise that’s led to ill feelings about another or myself, I can take responsibility for what has happened in a relationship and bring back the intimacy by expressing my truth. When I express my own needs and hear the beautiful needs of my partner, we’re back into playing the no-compromise game.
For me the no-compromise game toward win/win have been some of the greatest areas of personal growth, and enables wonderful intimacy as I learn the differences that are complimentary in relationship.
Perhaps too, we learn deep personal values are not so complimentary and this is beautiful too. I don’t want to be blamed holding anyone’s life back, nor want to be part of attempting to oppress someone like that. If values are not compatible for intimate relating we can celebrate this difference and gratefully wish each other well so that we are free to be truly who we are meant to be. It is simply just too painful to be living a life trying to be someone else in order to meet another one’s needs.
After hearing some feedback about the need for examples of how this works, I wrote a second blog Relationships: No-compromise game in action
Another thing is it can be a lot of fun, just like the playful discipline workshops I do for parents. At first it might seem like a contradiction that conflict resolution can be fun and playful as we are often not taught this is possible. But more on this later as I’m inspired to write about this aspect in my next blog – how to have fun in conflict with your lover.