Photo by Jack Finnigan on Unsplash

Our last blog was about UNDERSTANDING, but how do you actually come to a compromise? How can you come to a compromise without letting go of your core need? The Gottmans discussed this on their website and they advocate for understanding what the dream is underneath the conflict: “Make Life Dreams Come True: Dreams Within Conflict.” The outcome of that conversation is understanding what this positive need is underneath the conflict; it can have a whole bunch of different fingers — smaller disagreements that may have just been caused by stress from the core problem. All these disagreements cloud the real issue. Once you clear the clouds away, what’s left is one core need, just like we discussed last week.

For example, perhaps in your relationship you and your loved one have very different views of the current state of affairs in the US. Once you really distill down to the core need, what’s important to you, what your dream is in this conflict, it could be that you just really want everyone to be respected. You want your own respect and need that above all else. Is it possible to get to a compromise conversation about that without losing your core beliefs around this issue?

A healthy and lasting compromise conversation needs to honor the core need of all parties. You can both agree to honor each other’s core need and you don’t have to compromise on that core need — but the things around it you can compromise on. For example, money can oftentimes be a huge issue in a relationship. Spenders and savers always reach disagreements. But what’s often the core issue?

The core issue for the spender is that they need to have money that’s flexible that they can spend — in other words, they need to have some freedom, even if there are limits. Freedom is the core issue. The saver, on the other hand, needs to feel secure moving forward — that they’re going to have money for the future, and to be able to save a certain amount. It’s security that’s the core issue. 

These values may feel mutually exclusive in certain instances, but they’re really not. If each partner can honor each other’s need for spending and saving, then the flexible areas are: how MUCH you spend, How MUCH you save, and WHAT we spend on! From there, both sides can come up with flexible areas that actually mesh well. Talking about the flexible areas then becomes that much easier.