8 Tips for Effective Compromise

Everyone likes getting their own way. But if you're in a relationship, learning the art of the compromise is essential. It can be a delicate balance, experts say, because if you always do what your partner wants, you'll ultimately feel resentful. But if you determinedly move forward with your own agenda all the time, and don't attempt to meet your significant other halfway, there'll inevitably be feelings of negativity and resentment.

How to compromise without too much pain? Here's what the experts say.

1. Realize that a compromise does not always have to be 50-50, says Martin Evers, MD, associate director of behavioral health at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mt. Kisco, New York. "It's okay for a compromise to lean more heavily toward the person who felt more strongly about the choices in a particular situation," he says.

2. The biggest areas that couples have trouble compromising about are finances (number one) and child rearing (number two.) Just knowing that finding a common middle ground on how to spend your money or where to send your child to school are tough for a lot of people can be helpful, Evers says. Recognize that these are hot buttons for a lot of couples, and resolve to devote extra time and talk to working through them.

3. Assert yourself in a socially acceptable way. You don't have to be mean-spirited, but you can be firm. If you are never able to be assertive, it can lead to feelings of passive aggressiveness and unfulfillment, Evers says.

4. Ensure that each person gets what he wants at least some of the time by specializing, Evers suggests. If one partner is an expert in finance, that person may be best one to handle family budget issues. If one of you knows a lot about the education system, let that person research schools and come up with some possible options where you could send your child.

5. Communicate with each other. "Each person should feel that they were listened to," Evers says. "Generally when people feel they were heard, it's healthier for the relationship over time." Validate how your partner is feeling by repeating what you are hearing from him. Have your partner do the same.

6. Walk in your partner's shoes, advises Bonnie Eaker Weil, Ph.D., author of Make Up Don't Break Up.  "This means truly getting to know the other person's perspective and making every effort to understand it," she says. "And remember: it's important when talking not to judge or to rebut."

7. When discussing a potentially explosive situation in which you both are more than certain of what you want, come up with out three possible compromise choices, suggests Eaker Weil. Each of you should then try to pick two choices which you'd find acceptable. "This is important because if you are not settling on a compromise,  there will be distance between you, and then disinterest," she says.

8. After you've reached a compromise, always do something fun to get those feel-good hormones going, Eaker Weil says. "Jog together, kiss, make love," she says. "You've reached a compromise, and you want to do something that feels like dessert at the end of the meal."