Nobody wants to totally lose themselves in relationships. In fact, we fight tooth and nail in relationships to retain the versions of ourselves we are used to so we say or hear things like:
I want someone to love me the way I am
I don’t want to lose myself in the relationship or marriage
I know this person loves me because they never try to change me
It’s a blurry line this one. The line between “Compromising Yourself” and Growth. They are like twins only that we believe that one of them has a negative connotation (has horns) and that the other one has a positive one (has halos).
Which is which and how do you tell?
To compromise ourselves is seen as giving up ourselves or important parts of ourselves and for most of us, this is not a good thing.
But that got me thinking. How is that different from simply refusing to grow?
How do you draw the line between not wanting to compromise yourself, and needing to grow? And if your partner is demanding a fundamental change, is that compromising yourself or is that growth?
Well, here are some thought processes that can help navigate those murky waters and help you tell the difference between compromising yourself and changing towards growth.
1) Compromising yourself means that you are changing yourself for the sole purpose of acquiring or satisfying a relationship with someone AT THE EXPENSE of your own happiness and connection with God. You don’t want that
2) Compromising yourself in a relationship means that you are giving up or acquiring behaviors that may be temporarily good but eventually work against what gives you meaning in life, all for the sake of making the other person happy. You don’t want that
3) Compromising yourself means that you are operating only on your of fear of loss (of the relationship) and not a genuine desire to improve yourself. You don’t want that
4) That tells me that YOU have a role to play in the differentiation between compromising yourself and growing. Yup. If you are (knowingly or unknowingly) opposed to change, then all requests for change will look to you like you are compromising yourself…even when it’s a change that is good for you.
Here are some things to remember through:
You are not the grand standard.
Just because you hold certain things, behaviors and ways of thinking dear does not mean that those things, behaviors or thoughts are right, right for you, or right for your relationship (or marriage)
Not all uncomfortable, inconvenient, self-punching change is bad. In fact, sometimes, it’s just called growing.
i) Having to change yourself for the purpose of acquiring or satisfying a relationship with someone so that you can be eventually happier, more connected to them and be more connected to God is not “compromising yourself”. It’s changing and growing. You want that.
ii) Being in a relationship (or marriage) where you are BOTH having to give up things that were “individually” important to you so that you can acquire behaviors or things that are “mutually” beneficial to you both is not “compromising yourself”. It’s changing and growing. You want that.
iii) Having to find new –Fill in the blank– (things, thoughts, behaviors, etc) that give you pleasure and satisfaction (because the old things don’t work for your relationship) is different from not having the space or support to PURSUE pleasure and satisfaction, and is not necessarily “compromising yourself” . It might just be changing and growing. That’s OK
iv) Change for growth may be uncomfortable but once you put your pride aside, you’ll see that YOU will also partake of the benefits of that change. Compromising yourself feels like there is no benefit to you. In fact, all you feel is fear in those types of situations. Fear that you will lose yourself and fear that you are going down a path where you might never find that self again.
v) Growth in a relationship gets you more of yourself and more them. Compromising yourself gets you less of yourself and more them (at first)….then it starts getting you less of them and you end up losing yourself and losing them.
It’s one of the most difficult things we must learn in life and in relationships. Changing and Growing.
Even in the healthiest of relationships, your partner is going to demand change from you and once in a while, it will be something you hold dear.
Understand that making adjustments to yourself for the sake of someone else is not what necessarily a bad thing. In fact, that’s what relationships and marriages are made of.
It becomes a red flag when TWO THINGS happen:
A) When YOU are the ONLY one that seems to be doing it….when YOU are the only one that seems to be required to give up the things that add meaning to your life, for an indefinite period of time and;
B) When you have to give things up without an effort or support on the part of the other person to replace what you gave up with something different, better, or more meaningful
The above two points are especially important if you are on the side of the table demanding the change from someone.
Make sure you are keeping A & B above in mind.
One FINAL thing to keep in mind that even if you are a Christian, God can still (and usually does) use your spouse to change you so much that after a few years, you don’t even recognize who you are…AND THAT MAY NOT BE A BAD THING. He brings people together who can influence each other and change each other to produce better…more complete versions of each. So even as a believer, you WILL have to give up parts of yourself to get the best out of your marriage.
Ok, that’s it. Comment below and let me know if you have any questions or if you have any thoughts on the topic.