1. A settlement of differences in which each side makes concessions.
2. Something that combines qualities or elements of different things: The incongruous design is a compromise between high tech and early American.
3. A concession to something detrimental or pejorative: a compromise of morality.
Some believe compromise is inherently bad and should be avoided. Any compromise must mean compromising oneself, one's values, beliefs, thoughts, and feelings. To such people compromise is synonymous with weakness and vulnerability, never an option for a strong person.
Others believe compromise is inherently good and should always be sought out. Compromise means being compassionate and thoughtful, caring, and giving. To such people compromise is synonymous with the strength of vulnerability and is always the first option for a strong person.
Then there are those of us that understand when and how compromise is a tool and as they say, "You can't hammer a nail into empty space."
"People talk about the middle of the road as though it were unacceptable. Actually, all human problems, excepting morals, come into the gray areas. Things are not all black and white. There have to be compromises. The middle of the road is all of the usable surface. The extremes, right and left, are in the gutters." - Dwight D. Eisenhower
Compromise is not a dirty word. Life is full of conflict and there are only three ways to resolve them: conscious avoidance, heated altercation, or peaceful resolution. As Eisenhower wrote, most of life comes into the gray areas, there are no black and white answers to most of life's problems. As imperfect human beings we all have different needs and desires; to insure there is common ground compromise is not only useful, but often necessary. As Ronald Thomas once said, "Peace is a two way road of conflict and compromise."
Compromise is necessary in all areas of life from work to family to friends to relationships. Phyllis McGinley wrote, "Compromise, if not the spice of life, is its solidity. It is what makes nations great and marriages happy."
Compromise brings solidity.
It's not a magic wand, though. If we compromise on values such as honesty, responsibility, and compassion, then we're not strong, kind, or compassionate--we're co-dependent. Do we say, "I love you, it's okay that you treat me poorly," or do we stand up for ourselves and demand that we should be treated well?
"If we will be true and faithful to our principles, committed to a life of honesty and integrity, then no king or contest or fiery furnace will be able to compromise us. For the success of the kingdom of God on earth, may we stand as witnesses for Him "at all times and in all things, and in all places that we may be in, even until death."" - Howard W. Hunter
So when we are treated unfairly compromise is not a tool for betterment but a prison cell we encase ourselves in. How to tell the difference between that and necessary compromises?
True compromises are ones that are intended to lead to a positive outcome for all involved. Everyone is equal. Everyone accepts the outcome.
False compromises are ones that lead us to forgo our deepest held values while allowing another to take advantage of them. Someone ends up on top, someone ends up on bottom. One person always gets screwed.
There is strength in knowing when to compromise. There is wisdom in doing it.
To those I love most:
"Marriage requires the giving and keeping of confidences, the sharing of thoughts and feelings, respect and understanding always, marriage requires humility - the humility to repent, the humility to forgive. Marriage requires flexibility (to give and take) and firmness: not to compromise principles. And a wise and moderate sense of humor. Both need to be pulling together in the same direction." - Richard L. Evans