We were sitting in marriage counseling. Husband #1 was detailing in great length all the things that were wrong with our relationship and how he deserved to be happy. After a lengthy tirade, Husband #1 took a breath but before he could continue, the therapist piped in with this statement:
“It’s ok for you to be happy but you don’t get to shit all over HER in the process.”
We didn’t go to therapy again after that encounter.
If you want a brief synopsis of my first marriage’s demise, here it is, eloquently voiced by Husband #1, “We could have the best marriage ever. I just don’t want to.” It doesn’t get more black and white than that.
I guess Husband #1 just couldn’t wrap his efforts and attention around living in a world of compromise. And why should he when the popular press and society tells us it is our right – nay, our destiny – to be happy!
Iris Mauss, Ph.D., from the UC Berkeley Psychology Department presents the idea that seeking happiness leads to greater unhappiness. Mark Manson tells us “If you have to try to be happy, then you will never be happy.” June Gruber, Ph.D., is working on research to show the pursuit of happiness is associated with depression and bipolar disorder.
But what happens when someone comes along and tries to stop us from doing what we want, when we want, and how we want?
In essence, we’ve become a society filled with adult toddlers who proclaim our new-found mantra:
It’s time for ME to be HAPPY!
And it doesn’t matter who we stampede over in the process. After all, our happiness is paramount. Compromise is a killer of that happiness. Why would we consider compromise when it flies in the face of our new mantra?
More sage words from Husband #1 as he was exiting our marriage: “I don’t care if I see (the kids) every week or twice a year. All that matters is that I’ll be happy and (they) will be better off with me being happy.”
You just can’t make this stuff up.
I laugh when I read this definition of compromise: a good compromise is one in which neither side is happy. This statement is counter to the Happiness Entitlement that permeates our culture. We’ve grown up with images of our entitlement—the attitude where a person thinks they have the right to just about anything, without regard to others or legitimacy. Watch any beer commercial. It’s about the happy times we’re spending with friends. The world owes us our happiness!
What happened to working together for the greater good? How about being a part of the team. Will there ever be another generous being like Mother Theresa or will we end up with a world filled with Bernie Madoffs?
There is a vast difference between compromise and suffering in silence (a topic for another day). In compromise, the parties know exactly what the other gave up to meet somewhere in the middle. It’s not always 50/50. In an honest relationship sometimes the Husband gets more in one compromise and sometimes the Wife gets more in another compromise. The key is to be generous in the giving and make a valiant effort to understand the other person’s point of view.
I heard an interesting philosophical argument about two women who wanted the same orange. In what seemed like a fair decision, the ruler of the village cut the orange in half and gave a piece to each of the women. The first woman peeled the orange and threw away the flesh, as she was making candied orange peel. The second woman peeled the orange and threw away the peel as she was enjoying the orange segments. The moral of the story is that an honest disclosure about the wants of each woman would have resulted in both getting exactly what they desired.
I guess they both felt entitled to their happiness and never thought to understand the other.
Those only are happy who their minds fixed on some object other than their own happiness
~ John Stuart Mill