I find the notion of compromise and sacrifice in relationships a very poor one. Yes, we make choices all the time, but the idea that giving something up that we want or enjoy in order to fulfil the desires of someone else is in my opinion self-destructive. At the core of that notion is that giving up a part of yourself is a positive thing to do in order to make someone else happy. This is a euphamism for sacrifice. I don’t think that giving up a part of yourself is positive and I also don’t think that you can make someone else happy. That’s a lose-lose situation as far as I’m concerned.
Now, I’m not advocating for total self-centeredness and selfishness. I’m advocating for what I’ll call here “expansion.”
Expansion happens at the edge of your comfort zone – where you’re used to being and where everything is already familiar to you. When you make new discoveries and broaden your horizons – that’s where you’re expanding and that’s where you can find win-win solutions, where all involved get something positive out of a discourse rather than one or all having to sacrifice for the others.
Well before I married, I went on a date. We both wanted to do something romantic, I wanted to do something with more action and she wanted something calm and suitable for children since her son would also go with us.
We eventually decided on going to a theme park together. Plenty of things for her son to do. Plenty of high-adrenaline rides and wacky things for me to do. Plenty of romantic things for us also like the tunnel of love, the maze, a fortune-teller and coffee and ice-cream in the flower garden.
More than just a good solution for all of us where none of us had to sacrifice, it also gave us all the opportunity to expand our horizons. Her son got to try riding bicycles with me where the wheels were not centered or turned the opposite way to normal. She got to scream and hold my hand tight as she tried out a roller coaster. I got to bob slowly in the dark for the first time in my life on the back of a giant plastic swan while feeling like a teenager going somewhere private to steal a first kiss.
When negotiating for an expansive solution, I think that one of Lusty Guy’s “Relationship Rules of Order” is particularly useful:
If you reject a request, it’s your responsibility to make a counter-offer.
This makes the process actively involve everyone and by it’s very nature ensures that there is no Victim power dynamic going on.
By removing the role of the victim from the equation, the drama triangle is anulled. A person who would normally play that role is forced to make counter-offer(s) and therefore think about what they really want and how to get it. This puts them in the role of the creator and at least shifts one vertex in to the empowerment dynamic.
With the victim removed, there is no longer a need to rescue, so it is also more likely that this role will also fall by the wayside and shift to coach or challenger.
Without a victim, there is also no-one to persecute, so this role is likely to shift too.
Look to expand rather than sacrifice. The grass really is greener on the other side (of the fence bordering what you already know).