Compromise in Relationships: What Do I Have To Give Up For Love?

Before I met my husband, I had an active dating life. Going out on dates was exciting and fun … until it wasn’t anymore. I found out there was an aspect of my personality that my dates couldn’t seem to deal with. Inevitably, as the guy would be driving me home at the end of the first or second date, he would turn to me and say, “You know, you think too much!” When that would happen, I knew the relationship was over before it had begun. How my mind worked, my overly analytical self, wasn’t something I could change. But I often wondered if I should compromise. In relationships, it’s sometimes hard to know what we have to give up to make it work.

Now we all know we have to make some compromises in a healthy relationship. There’s no such thing as instant and complete compatibility. But there’s a difference between healthy, necessary compromise in a relationship, and having to change fundamental aspects of your personality just to make a relationship work! So, what exactly do you have to give up for love?

Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Compromise in relationships is about reaching an agreement by each person making a type of concession or adjustment. In other words, we don’t get to have our own way all the time – and that’s actually good for us and for our growth as Christians. Ephesians 4:2 reminds us: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” That’s good relationship advice.

The areas where we generally should compromise on are usually in the area of our need for always being in control or always being right. In learning to compromise in our dating relationships, we learn how to get out of our comfort zone and grow up. As the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:11, “When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.”

What Not To Compromise In Relationships

But sometimes, compromise is not the right approach to take. There may come a point in your relationship where you both hit a wall of differences too great to overcome. Beyond differences even, it may have to do with who you are, at your very core. Here are some important areas you should not compromise on:

  • Your faith: Nothing is more precious than your faith in Christ. You should never compromise in this area, or try to hide your faith in order to match yourself to where someone is or isn’t at in their journey of faith. When you marry, your spiritual practices, such as going to church every week or praying together, shouldn’t be a point of contention, but rather something that supports your relationship with spiritual strength.
  • Your personality and passions: If you have a bubbly personality and you start dating a guy who finds your cheerfulness irritating, don’t subdue your personality just to make the relationship work. If you’re a musician and love being on the worship team, it wouldn’t be a good compromise for you to get off the worship team just so that your girlfriend doesn’t feel threatened by your involvement. God created you to be uniquely you, complete with valuable talents and gifts that should be expressed.
  • Your core values: All of us hold certain core values or dreams. If you want to have a large family and be a stay-at-home mom, but your boyfriend tells you that his ideal woman is a high-powered woman with a full-time career and high income potential, then the two of you may be at a point where you need to part ways. Likewise, if you feel called to work with youth ministry but your girlfriend just can’t stand “loud, obnoxious” teenagers, it wouldn’t be good for you to compromise on this calling you have to work with teens.

Finding Love At Last

You can expect to compromise in relationships, but it’s always good to keep those compromises healthy. Think things like how you approach your engagement, or where you’d live after you’re married. That’s part of the realm of “two becoming one.” But be aware that there may come a time where what you’d have to give up is too great a cost just to have a relationship.

In my case, when I began to date my husband, I kept waiting to hear those inevitable but hurtful words about my creative, overactive mind … but they never came.

“I like the way your mind works,” he told me with a smile early on in our courtship. And 33 years later, he still does. Oh, we’ve made plenty of compromises along the way. Due to ministry calling, seminary housing constraints and, later, a career in real estate renovations, we moved over 20 times in our first 15 years of marriage. Talk about stressful! We had to compromise on our opinions and preferences over the years so that we could forge ahead as a united front.

But never have I had to pretend to be someone other than myself. I’m glad I found this out early on in my dating life. I didn’t have to give up who I am just to find love—and neither do you.

You may also be interested in Focus On What Matters: 4 Things To Let Slide In Your Next Relationship