Marriage and the art of compromise

Jun. 09, 2013 @ 04:46 PM

My wife and I recently celebrated our anniversary. This was a remarkable accomplishment, particularly when you consider that she insists on putting the toilet paper on the roll so it rolls top down and I know that it’s best done from the bottom up.

But of course, that’s what marriage is — continual compromise with a deep understanding and appreciation of the other person’s position, even if I’m doing it the right way and she’s wrong.

Over the years, my wife and I have learned to compromise on a number of issues that she’s been wrong about and that I’ve always graciously acknowledged that she’s been wrong about.

We have, for instance, reached a mutual understanding about setting the house thermostat. I let her actually go downstairs and set it after we’ve both gotten into bed, gotten comfortable and forgotten to do it and she lets me have it set to exactly the temperature I want. That way, we each get something and it’s a win-win situation, particularly if I am asleep by the time she comes back up.

Similarly, when we’re driving around, if she’s driving, she allows me to screech at her that she’s going too slow or too fast and watch out for that car on the left and have you checked the gas lately and why are you braking like that? And when I’m driving, she allows me to play music really loud so I can’t hear anything. Sometimes she even allows me to continue playing the same song three or four times in a row until it drives her completely mad and she needs to change the thermostat.

In still another compromise, I get to choose what kind of restaurant we might want to go out to, and she gets to complain about what kind of restaurant I choose.

It is a delicate balance, and admittedly, it hasn’t always been easy. After all, my wife and I are very different people, with different personalities and completely different shoe sizes.

My wife, for instance, is always late to appointments and I’m always early. This could have been an insurmountable obstacle. But we’ve dealt with this as understanding, empathetic, flexible adults, and compromised by cancelling all our appointments. We haven’t been out of the house in 17 years, but that has also cut down on any disagreements about driving and restaurants.

We’ve managed to arrive at all these compromises over the years through intensive discussions, careful negotiations and the occasional drone strike. We both have understood that when it comes to these compromises each of us would have to give something up. I’ve given up bananas.

It’s why our marriage has worked so well and has endured for so long without any slip-ups. Of course, without bananas, that’s not a problem. 

Neil Offen can be reached at theneiloffencolumn@yahoo.com.