Compromise: Asphalt on the Road to Happily Ever After

Posted in Monthly at 9:57 am by Pasha

By Pasha Carroll

It has been happening for four long years; and I don’t expect it to stop anytime soon. Sure, maybe a little traffic or a little road work. But as long as we keep compromising in this relationship of ours, the road will be long, possibly marred by potholes, always an uphill battle and paved by meeting in the middle.

Back when words like “marriage” were still just words, Matthew and I took one country song very seriously, “Meet in the Middle,” by Diamond Rio. From the time he asked me to quit my job and move to Atlanta with him I knew that I was undertaking a serious compromise with my precious independence. I honestly believe if I had not moved, refused and tried long distance, we would have never made it through the first year. And that first year was rough, our hardest ever.

In those 12 months I learned what it was like to live with somebody and try to make most mornings, noons and nights run smoothly. They never really did; I shed many tears in that year and hoped for something easier, if not better. It was hard for me to change how I lived, to be happy watching a ballgame during dinner, to shop for processed food and potato chips to make someone else happy. But I survived and in turn Matthew compromised the subsequent year of his life. He agreed to move overseas and travel with me, something he had already done. But it was our deal, I move, you move. We would meet in the middle.

We have always worked well as a team when we travel, especially after we learned the vital ways to deal with one another away from home. I learned that to be happy sometimes means time away from one another: an hour where I shop and he sleeps, each one of our favorite past times. We agreed to go to cities we both would enjoy. We compromised long days with only bread and wine over two hours at a fancy restaurant. Matthew and I learned how to give up the luxuries we were accustomed to: like cable, a dryer, a car, eating out; and trade them for library books, clothes lines, trains and homemade dinners. For both of us that year was defining and a school in its own.

When we moved back to The States there was much more compromise to be made as we searched for a home base. We decided Chicago based on its proximity to my childhood home and his affection for the sports teams. It truly was the only city we would agree on. In the past two year since there has been plenty of give and take. Sometimes it is as insignificant as who takes Lolli outside (usually we end up going together) but other times it escalates into huge debates. The better part of those debates end with us both getting some of what we want but not much of what we had originally campaigned for.

Our most recent disagreement, and subsequent compromise, was regarding new cell phones. We were both in the market: Matthew insisted on AT&T while I vehemently argued for Verizon. We both had valid reasoning—his being Rollover minutes, mine being the In Network. We went around the circle for more than two weeks. In the end we stayed with T Mobile, our current company. The road to that decision included hours of research, days on the phone, and finally a plan we could both agree on. After I made the call, added his line, and bought our new phones, I felt relieved and wondered why we had not just chosen this route initially … I suppose it is because getting there is what makes you learn what compromise is truly all about.

At my wedding shower we played a game where the ladies asked me general questions about marriage (read from super-cute coasters.) One was, “Do you think you will compromise more before or after you get married.” I do believe that getting to the point where marriage is your goal instead of an ideal, couples make tons of compromises. I believe that if you bring that sentiment into marriage, that compromise will lead you down the road together, then the ensuing relationship can last a lifetime. So my answer is, while most couples compromise more before marriage, the ones that compromise more after will be those who follow the road together all the way until the end.