Actually Nicholas Sparks, Marriage ISN’T About Compromise

There’s something about my personality that enjoys deconstructing clichés and today’s article from Tarah Avery at Start Marriage Right is a great example of why. This is such a helpful, accurate takedown of the idea that a good marriage involves neither partner getting all of what they want. Hope you enjoy!

Marriage is about compromise; it’s about doing something for the other person, even when you don’t want to.–Nicolas Sparks.

That sounds about right, doesn’t it? At least for many of our definitions of compromise.

Though there is truth to the statement above, I have learned from countless couples in trusting, committed, and passionate marriages is that marriage is not about compromise.

When I was a little girl I didn’t dream about my wedding much. I didn’t have the plans already in place and never played pretend “bride.” Little did I know my future husband was dreaming about and planning for his future wedding! He played “groom” and “wedding” and did all those things that little girls are supposed to do.

During the wedding planning season of our lives, Gordon and I worked tons to create a wedding we would both love. Of course I wanted something that I would love-just because I didn’t think about it growing up (I only ever concluded sunflowers) did not mean that it wasn’t important to me once it came, and it was definitely important to him after spending all those years thinking and dreaming of this day.

We actually had the vision of our wedding planned out before we were even engaged (thank you, Pinterest). We did this because we didn’t want all hell to break loose during our season of being engaged. I knew we had different visions of what our wedding might look like: big vs. small, inside vs. outside, formal vs. whimsical; so we made it a point to discover what we both loved, no compromises.

We had a “fun-classy” wedding – black and white with a little bit of gold sparkle, sunflowers, and stripes! It was beautiful. I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

The biggest piece of advice from many married couples is to compromise: “marriage is about compromise.” But what are they really saying?

They are most likely saying meet in the middle, or like the quote above – give a little, take a little.

For example: a husband and wife have a disagreement on what they want to do on their day off. The husband wants to sit and watch football all day while the wife wants to go on a long 7-mile hike. So they talk it out and meet in the middle of watching football for a couple hours and then going on a shorter 3-mile hike.

Now is either partner really happy? He had to cut the football game off at halftime and she didn’t get the nice long hiking workout she wanted.

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What we need to do is learn what healthy compromise actually looks like.

Jeff Bethke puts it this way: “for us (Jeff & Alyssa), we’ve committed to compromise. And not compromising to appease the other person, but compromising to love the other person. In fact, we don’t even really like to call it compromise. In reality, it’s just serving. Learning to serve your significant other out of love.”

Isn’t that so true!?

Meeting in the middle is what most people would define as compromising, but truly it’s a selfish way to live your life and a selfish thing to bring to your marriage. But serving one another as Jeff puts it, is compromising to love the other person. It’s selfless. And if done with the right heart it becomes a beautiful cycle of “out-serving” the other person. The more Gordon is selfless towards me, the more I am towards him.

Now someone has to start. You may not be living in a serving relationship now, but I bet that if you took that first step to serve him, he would want to join in. And so the cycle begins.

You’ve just discovered what it truly means to “compromise.”

Ditch meeting in the middle and take on the challenge of viewing compromise as serving the other person. So the next time you have a differing opinion or preference, I challenge you to be selfless out of love for your spouse.