Let's Go Back to the Bible

“Compromise” in Marriage?

The word “compromise” is a word that often means different things to different people.  It is used often in marriage counseling, in an effort to help a husband and a wife to learn to get along and to find some kind of common ground in their relationship and even in their arguments.  “Just compromise.”  However, while some may see the word as an innocent, soft term, designed to deescalate a situation and bring about a calm, someone else may see the word as an attack on their rights to happiness in a relationship, especially if they are “always the one who has to compromise.”  Maybe that is why God didn’t use the word “compromise” in the Bible.

The word that God did use in the New Testament to address the marriage relationship and to describe how to settle disputes is the word “love” (or the Greek noun, agape).  The word describes one who looks out for and seeks to meet the needs of another in an unselfish and unconditional manner.  Philippians 2:3-4 is a wonderful depiction of this concept.

In marriage, rather than focus on “compromise,” focus on looking out for each other’s needs (and even desires).  When a husband and a wife are both seeking to meet the needs (and even desires) of their spouse (and not forcing their own needs and desires and demanding “compromise”), this is where true peace, harmony and happiness can be achieved in the marriage.

Of course, a spouse should never yield when it comes to matters of faith and doctrine.  The church must come first, worship must be a weekly priority, Biblical morality must be defended, sin must never be condoned, and sound doctrine must never be compromised.  Those are non-negotiables!  And, of course, a couple should never incur financial hardships just to have what one of them (or both of them) might desire. 

But, when it comes to matters that are truly inconsequential (Biblically or financially), husbands and wives both should look for ways to put their spouse’s needs (and even desires) above their own.  Whether it’s furniture, decorations, games, crafts, hobbies, pets, TV shows, etc., could it be that Jesus’ words are true even here—“It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35)?  This goes for both husbands and wives!  Both should seek for ways to elevate the other.  Both should seek for ways to “give,” without looking “to receive” anything.  That’s the nature of a Jesus-centered marriage!

Rather than use the word “compromise” (which is not always equally defined), what if our marriages were filled with true agape love, seeking to meet each other’s needs?