C – Why Cooperation is Better Than Compromise in Marriage (& add your links to Marriage Moments Mondays)
If you’re just now joining this series – The ABCs of Marriage – please check out A – Acknowledge He Isn’t Perfect and You Aren’t Either, and B – Bashing Your Husband is Off Limits.
This week is C – the inescapable C of marriage is… Cooperation! Not compromise, you might ask? Here’s why:
“an act or instance of working or acting together for a common purpose or benefit… willingly and agreeably.” *
“a settlement of differences by mutual concessions; an agreement reached by adjustment of conflicting or opposing claims, principles, etc by reciprocal modification of demands.” *
How many times have you felt frustrated and dissatisfied by compromise in your marriage? Too often, I’ve compromised (giving in, giving up) in order to avoid an argument or disappointing my husband. While avoiding conflict is important, it should not be done at all costs. Let me let you in on a little secret:
Peace in your marriage isn’t worth compromising your beliefs, discounting your tastes and preferences, and ignoring your emotions.
When you compromise, one or both parties must give something up in order to preserve peace, unity, and harmony. While sacrifices in marriage are essential, compromise implies differences are wrong and must be fixed or molded to a certain standard. But who sets this standard? How do you define who will compromise or who won’t? If you both compromise, do you feel a sense of unfairness after?
When I got married, yes, I expected to become one with my husband, but that doesn’t mean that I lost all sense of my individual self, or that my individual thoughts, opinions, emotions, desires, and preferences are unimportant. My husband often talks about how much he appreciates my ability to think for myself.
Eleanor Roosevelt wrote, “Obedience may have its uses, but it is no substitution for willing, un-coerced cooperation.”
Adam loves me. He doesn’t want to force me to give in because he wants me to do something. He wants me to genuinely be willing to do something. Yes, we, as wives, are called to love, honor, and obey our husbands, but submission works both ways. Ephesians 5:11 says, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” This mutual submission calls for unified cooperation in order to wholeheartedly choose what is best for the both of you together, not separately.
2 Reasons Why Compromise Is So Detrimental
In an article in Psychology Today, Michael J. Formica writes, “Compromise, within the context of relationships, is troublesome because it implies that someone is giving something up. Cooperation, on the other hand, strengthens the underlying fabric of relationship through balanced interchange, open communication and mutual understanding.” Read full article here.
Compromise causes division by forcing the other person into direct competition with your own self – with what you want – and forgetting all about what the other person wants and ultimately needs.
You were forced to give up something for the sake of your spouse, and they were forced to give up something for your sake.
Cooperation is about conscious, mutually beneficial choices. You choose to love and honor your spouse by walking side-by-side, working through decisions and problems together, without forcing the other to give in and give up.
Corey Allen, blogger over at Simple Marriage, even goes as far to say in Want a Great Marriage? Don’t Compromise, compromise “sounds great… on paper. But when you get right down to it, in most every marriage, people don’t compromise, they cave.” He asks,
…a great life and marriage are the result of a person living from the best in themselves and by defending what’s true and right. This is never about compromise. So if you’re better off not compromising yourself to yourself, you certainly aren’t better off compromising with your spouse.
After all, isn’t your spouse the one person with whom you’re supposed to share what’s true and right? And how can doing what’s truly best for you personally also not be what’s truly best for your marriage?
When you compromise, you deceive yourself into thinking you’ve done what’s best for your marriage. But as Corey Allen says, “Compromise means doing something other than what you know is best.”
Today Adam and I were playing Civilization 5 on our computers. The basic idea of the game is to build up your chosen civilization and be the best at something – science, culture, domination, or diplomacy – while working against other human players or AI civilizations. While Adam was succeeding on his end of the game, I was fighting invading AI countries and barbarians while my economy was in the gutter and I was unable to build up any more defensive military units of my own. The computer was competing against me and winning, and I was at the mercy of whatever the computer decided after each of my turns.
Compromise is like a turn-based game. Compromise makes it all about “your turn” vs. “his turn.” You are both forced to defend yourself and sometimes it can feel like a lost or hopeless cause, and you cave instead of compromising or cooperating. Someone always has the upper hand. Someone always comes away unhappy. Someone always loses.
So What Does Biblical Cooperation Look Like?
Ephesians 4:1-3 says, “…walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (ESV).
This brings us to 2 other C’s – Calling and Choice.
What is our calling? To no longer walk in the ways of the world, according to our own human flesh, as we’ve been reconciled to God, but to imitate Christ, and walk by faith through grace, and to actively live the life God has prepared for us. [Ephesians 2].
How are we to walk?
- Choose humility – This means not thinking any better of yourself or less of yourself because you’re identity is defined by Christ, not by any person or working of your own. This means remembering that self-deprecation – feeling like your opinions, beliefs, thoughts, or ideas are worthless – is also a form of pride, leading you to compromise not doing what you should and can do because you’re afraid of failure or conflict.
- Choose gentleness – Stephen Kendrick, author of The Love Dare, writes, “It’s an attitude and spirit of cooperation that should permeate our conversations. It’s like a palm tree by the ocean that endures the greatest winds because it knows how to gracefully bend. ” Compromise leaves a person feeling a loss, like being knocked off your feet by the wind. Loss can stir in a person frustration, anger, bitterness, regret, hopelessness, and a whole host of other negative emotions, especially when you or your spouse is feeling forced into a situation Cooperation teaches a person to kindly evaluate together and gently let things go once a decision is made. Max Lucado, Christian author, writes, “I choose gentleness…nothing is won by force… I choose to be gentle.”
- Choose patience – Immediate compromise doesn’t solve a dilemma. It merely patches over the problem. Compromise doesn’t take any real thought or effort. It’s easy to point out what you think your spouse should give up and it’s easy to quickly defend why you shouldn’t give something of your own up. Patience requires you to slow down and to recognize and celebrate each other’s differences and choose the best possible path for you both in the long term – not what’s good for only one of you now.
- Choose to bear in love – Compromise is about seeking fairness and justice. Cooperation is serving one another in love. Was it fair that Christ had to bear the burden of our sins? Absolutely not. But He did it anyway out of love for us. Love isn’t about being fair. Love is about Christlike living. God could’ve chosen to save us in a different way, but instead He sent His Son to live among us and to build relationships with us. When a husband and wife choose to love one another as Christ loved the Church, they seek relationship. Competition and compromise doesn’t require a relationship in order to succeed. Cooperation does. Cooperation thrives on mutual respect, edification, encouragement, forgiveness, patience, and reconciliation.
- Choose unity – When married couples talk about compromising it’s really about two individuals deciding to give up or give in, essentially caving. This doesn’t foster unity. This doesn’t build relationship. In fact, it tears the relationship down and kicks the real problem under the rug. Marriage is about working toward what is true, right, and good for you both together, measured up against the yardstick of Scripture. It’s not about keeping the peace. Because compromise divides you, you both stand alone. Cooperation binds you and you can stand together unified in Christ. Ecclesiastes 4:12 attests to this: “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves, but a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Let me put it to you another way: Compromise = you vs. your spouse. Cooperation = you + your spouse + Christ.
*Both definitions are taken from Dictionary.com
Your Turn? What are your thoughts on cooperation vs. compromise? What methods do you choose to employ in your marriage?
Linking Up With: The Alabaster Jar