Here are three things that couples should not compromise on because they cannot actually be compromised in a way that both parties will be content with the outcome. That’s just called settling and won’t lead to a happy ending for any relationship.
Commitment is something that looks different for everyone. And both partners need to agree on what that picture of commitment looks like for them. For some, comittment looks like weekly dinners and casual sex. And if that works for them, it works for me. For others, commitment may mean the big rock and walking down the aisle. Some may just want that ring because it symbolizes the unity of their relationship, but don’t see the need for that piece of paper that states the unity of you and your partner as a couple.
I read a New York Times article once called “The Secret to Marriage is Never Getting Married.” Initially, the thought of not getting married seemed insane. But as I started to think about the couples in my life, right from my own friends and family, the idea didn’t seem so ludacris afterall. Call me old-fashioned, but marriage is something that is important to me, and so is having a family. However, this concept isn’t for everyone. I met a couple at JFK once, when I was traveling for work. Let’s call them “Traveling Lovers.” This unmarried couple was together for seven years — both working remotely as digital media expert freelancers and travelling the world together. They had just got back from South Africa, made their way into Miami, and finally back to New York — where they intended to settle down and start a family. I asked “where’s the wedding going to be?” They laughed and said “Marriage is just a piece of paper.” And she continued “These past years traveling the world together with the love of my life — A piece of paper doesn’t mean anything to me.” This is an ideology that many young people have adopted, in refraining from doing things the way their parents once did and not falling for the traps of “societal constructs.”
These stats from a 2019 survey conducted by Pew Research are fascinating. Half of American adults were married in 2017, but this head count is down by 8% since 1990. This shouldn’t be too much of a shocker, since a lot of people are staying single longer or waiting to settle down until they’re older. And apparently, “the number of U.S. adults cohabiting with a partner is on the rise,” which isn’t a surprise at all.
So first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes… Yea you guessed it! A baby or babies.
This is a tricky one! As long as both parties are physically able to have children, they should be in agreement on whether or not to have children and how many children will complete their family. Having one child is completely different than having three, and having two is not the compromise between one and three. Even the number of children is not something a couple should “compromise” on.
Speaking of those little critters crawling all over the place, let’s talk about how they got here in the first place. Sex isn’t everything, but it’s a really important part of being intimate with your significant other. And this is just another aspect of a relationship that usually requires communication. Whether you’re talking about preferences, safe words, or scheduling it, you need to talk about sex with your partner.
All three of these seemingly simple decisions need to be agreed on by a couple because some decisions are harder than others to make. There is no compromise when it comes to the level of commitment that you feel is needed from your partner and what that commitment looks like. Couples should not compromise on starting a family because it’s very cut and dry; you’ll either have children or not. The number of children you agree to have is also extremely important. And if having children and raising a family is something that you truly want, don’t settle with someone who does not.
Just to clarify, there is actually nothing wrong with not wanting to get married or have children. However, these are two things that a couple should agree on in advance. It’s very unlikely that you can change your partner’s mind or that they’ll come around to the idea later. And vice versa; if you don’t want children, do not settle into a relationship and go with the motions. In either scenario, nothing good can come of it, only resentment. And as long as this resentment harbours between a couple, there can’t be a happy relationship full of openness and honesty.