Better Together: Compromise, Find Happy.

Welcome to Better Together. The newsletter focused on showing you how amazing your marriage can be, and trying to help you get there. Each week we give you a brief glimpse into our lives and three potentially life-changing ideas to help you become a better partner. We hope that you will find this newsletter inspirational and practical.

We believe that “close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives.” [1] We believe that by strengthening marriages, and families, we can improve the world at large.

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1. the Grant Study, a 75-year-long Harvard research project on human development

From Our Lives

The other day Nathan and I were at the gym. I was still feeling a little sore from our exercise routine the day before and so I asked if we could head home early.

Nathan wasn’t very excited about cutting our exercise routine short and reminded me that we were cutting out his favorite part. So I suggested we could do 5 of the 15 minutes that we usually do and then go home. We both agreed.

Just before we got to his favorite part of the exercise, he asked me again how I was feeling. He told me that if needed we could go home. I happily took the way out and we headed home.

Looking back we are able to see 3 problems with this discussion.

I was “willing” to go along with our first solution, but I hadn’t decided to be happy with it. I needed to do a better job recognizing that Nathan was making a sacrifice as well, instead of worrying about not getting exactly what I wanted.

Nathan’s solution to go home wasn’t something that met his needs. He shouldn’t have offered it. Instead, when he brought up his concern that I didn’t seem happy with our decision, we should have talked about it more. At that point I could have reassured him that this was a fair compromise.

When I chose to go home I didn’t show any concern for Nathan’s interests. It was very kind for Nathan to still be concerned about me and I should have been similarly concerned for what he was giving up. If I really was unable to continue with our workout, I still could have shown more appreciation for his sacrifice and possibly come up with something to show my appreciation. (Sex later that day for example… :-)

No couple is perfectly compatible. The important part is how we deal with those differences. We need to take the time to hear the other person’s needs and concerns. We need to make sure they feel heard and understood. We need to learn to compromise in a way that we can both be happy with.

What We Have Been Reading

“As we are willing to discuss, understand, and compromise we can come to a solution that we are both able to happily live with. The key is to do so with a minimum of contention and to look for common ground that is best for the relationship, instead of focusing on winning the argument.”

Nathan & Kelli Bullock

“The problem with [this] approach to compromise is that it actually encourages a form of antagonism. If I give in to your needs, I’m losing out while resenting your selfishness. If I stand firm to get my way, I’m selfish and nervous that you might build up resentment against me... But there is an approach that bypasses this Catch-22 that has a surprisingly simple focus. This is to realize that you are not in a struggle with your partner. You are struggling with how to honor two different needs in yourself... When I notice that one of the things I want is to make my sweetheart happy, then it’s no longer me against you. It’s me having two “competing” but equally important desires.”

Ken Fremont-Smith

“We both need to continue to improve our ability to listen and to talk.

“Sometimes one of us will just roll over, and acquiesce to the other person's point of view.

“Sometimes one of us has made up their mind so firmly they can’t budge or compromise.

“In both cases we haven’t lived up to our end of our couple agreement. We both have a duty to listen and to speak. We both have a duty to try to understand. We both have a duty to be willing to compromise. We both have a duty to stay in the conversations, especially when they get uncomfortable, especially when we feel like we just want to escape.”

Nathan & Kelli Bullock

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Written and published by Nathan & Kelli.

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The purpose of “The Couple Project” is to learn more about what makes a strong marriage or relationship. We share what we are learning, which ideas we are trying, and which ideas helped improve our relationship. We realize not everything that works for us will work for you, but we still hope you will find our journey valuable.

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