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Compromise vs. Control

March 6, 2014

Rules are prevalent throughout our society and obviously the constantly changing total number of them is astronomical. For the most part rules were created to keep us safe from harm, or functioning well together as a collective group. Therefore, we can agree that rules are necessary in the right circumstance. However, one area rules shouldn’t apply is in a relationship. For instance, if you’re in a committed relationship and feel your partner should do this but not do that, or should go here but not there, then you have stopped having a real relationship and have created a power play of rules and consequences. Sadly it also appears you have pulled the wool over your own eyes.

Speaking from experience, I’ve lived on both sides of the ‘control’ fence. My personal healing began years ago when I admitted I needed to be (feel) in control and began letting go. Ironically, I went so far in the other direction I became the one being controlled in a later relationship. Obviously, both roles were devastating to my self-esteem. Yet as I grow in my journey through life I’ve discovered compromise over control is essential to any relationship, be it intimate, work related, friends or family.

However, let’s simply consider control in an intimate relationship. When a ‘controller’ feels they are in control of someone they may at first feel powerful, righteous, fearless, secure, dominant and strong. They enforce the rules and dole out their version of punishment for any perceived infraction. Yet that high horse they’ve put themselves on is a very lonely place and eventually they may fall off their false sense of security. Controlling every aspect of a relationship so it won’t crumble causes it to do just that…crumble. Couples in this power play begin to emotionally withdraw from each other creating even more tension and stress. Each might momentarily enjoy a false sense of winning: the controller by creating rules, the controlled by breaking them. When, in reality, they are both losing.

So which would you rather have? A loving relationship or a long list of ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ to follow? Fundamentally speaking, the fewer ‘rules’ there are in a loving relationship the better. Although, as I reflect on the ‘used to be’ me days, I brazenly felt I had it all…power, authority, self-importance and tons of arrogance because I was always right and they were always, always, always wrong. Honestly, my “I need control over you” attitude left me feeling empty because it took an incredible amount of energy to stay on constant watch for any breech of my self-proclaimed rules, depleting my happiness to unhealthy levels. As I’ve stated, I’ve straddled both sides of the control issue and they are equally unsatisfying. Thankfully, over the years I realized being ‘in control’ is not a win-win strategy in any relationship. It’s a losing game no matter how it’s played.

When we have rule after rule pressing down on us we slowly suffocate and both sides lose; not a happy, healthy, well-adjusted relationship by any means.

So what are the rules for a great relationship? Well I’m glad you asked because there are a few. Although I’d rather call them values and they read like this: Love/commitment, communication, compromise/humility, trust/honesty, respect, and quality time.

Combined in a sentence they might read: In your loving and committed relationship you discover that when you and your partner enjoy open lines of honest communication during quality time, each of you humbly letting go of control for the greater desire to compromise on decisions which you trust will benefit your mutually respectful relationship. With that being said, I trust you get the point. Giving up control in favor of compromise allows you both to be equally in control of the relationship. And isn’t that a relationship worth having?

Can you imagine...pulling the wool over your own eyes?

Smile, you’re worth it!



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