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Why Marriages Fail - Compromise

RING In the United States over half of all marriages end in divorce.  This daunting statistic faces every couple when they make the decision to get married.  Everyone knows it but no one really ever gets married thinking “in 15 years I’ll be divorced.”  Everyone, including me, think that they have some magic formula that will make their marriage work. 

When you hear about a couple getting divorced one of just a few reasons are usually given as the reason for the separation: infidelity, addiction, financial issues or un-reconcilable differences. 

Recently, I had a distant family member’s marriage dissolve because the wife had an addiction to prescription drugs, which included doctor shopping, and a family inherited gambling problem.  The husband found out about it when he discovered that they were going to lose their home.  To start to fix the financial problems, the husband emptied his 401k to pay off the bills that had accumulated.  Unfortunately, he made the mistake of depositing the money into the family checking account.  I’ll let you use your imagination as to how ugly it got when he discovered that his 401k money was gone too but it included his teenage boys ending up in a Catholic shelter. 

This example of why a marriage failed is easy for everyone to understand.  The wife went nuts and destroyed the family unit.  Marriage over! 

What is harder for everyone to understand, including me, is when marriages dissolve when the simple explanations don’t apply. 

All of the so-called experts say that healthy marriages are all about compromise.  It’s the give-and-take that keeps the relationship strong.  I think that this is crap. 

To me “compromise” is the problem.  I have always thought that in a marriage that you picked 3 or 4 clearly defined non-negotiable areas of understanding (infidelity, financial planning, etc.) that are not open to discussion and let the rest go.  If the wife wants to paint the house purple who cares as long as it makes her happy and doesn’t affect the non-negotiable parts of the relationship. 

Compromise, like “The Force” in the movie Star Wars has a side that is for good but it also has a dark side.  When one member of a married couple decides that they want something for no other reason than they just want something; they most likely will need their spouse to compromise to make it happen.  What brings on the dark side is when the asker knows that their spouse will never agree to what is being asked so some sort of compromise is asked for.  Then another, then another, then another and then another. 

It does not take long for the compromise to become capitulation.  The capitulator is again and again put in a position that he or she does not want or did not ask for.  It gets worse when the capitulator finally say “enough” and then gets so beaten down that everyone thinks that they are the bad person who is not willing to compromise. 

Then the compromises get bigger and bigger to the point that it can affect everyone associated with the marriage directly or indirectly.  Children start crying, resentment builds and then someone says or does something that they would not usually say or do. 

Somewhere during the process the compromises stop.  Then the relationship is destined for failure. 

Relationships are tough, no question about it.  Compromising has to be part of any healthy relationship but knowing when to compromise is just as important as knowing when not to ask for compromise.

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