There are Many Ways to Compromise
You’d think it would be easy for people in a couple to compromise — but sometimes, given the frequent annoyances and pressures of daily life — it’s harder.
I thought of this when I was heading to the subway one Saturday night and heard a quarreling couple walking up the street behind me.
The woman was cold. She wanted to go home and get a sweater. The man wanted to get where they were going on time, and thought that going home would cause unreasonable delay.
When I tuned in, they were having one of those sidebar skirmishes that come up so often between couples (you’ve probably had one of these yourself). It went:
Woman: It’s not going to take that long to go home.
Man: It’s going to take two hours. What do you need a sweater for? It’s not that cold.
Woman: It is cold. I’m cold.
Man: But I told them we’d be there between 6 and 6:30.
Woman: No, you said we’d be there between 6:30 and 7:00.
Man: No, I said between 6 and 6:30.
Woman: No, you didn’t. You said…
My Compromise: Divide and Conquer
Having run that hamster wheel many times in 36 years with my own husband, it was all I could do to not turn around and say, “Hey, Young Couple, cut this out! Woman, go home and get your sweater. Man, go straight to wherever you’re going. That way, you both get what you want.”
Fortunately, I didn’t say this, because my idea that they should separate to pursue their individual ends was wrong.
It turns out that, while she wanted to be warm and he wanted to be on time, what they both wanted most was to be happy together.
Their Compromise: Not His Way or Her Way, but Their Way
How do I know this?
Because, a minute later, I heard the woman giggle. I turned to walk down the subway stairs (and also to sneak a peek at them), and saw that the man had taken off his jacket and was wrapping it around her shoulders.
Later, on the subway platform, they were laughing and standing close together, all the tension between them gone.
Instead of getting bogged down in debating whose solution was more “reasonable”—and particularly in the false issues of whether it was really cold enough for a sweater, or what time he’d actually said they would show up at their destination—this couple found a third, neutral path that worked for both.
And, whoever they are, I’ll bet they had a great Saturday night!