The Differences Between Compromise & Sacrifice In A Relationship
OK, so here's my confession for the day. While I don't get to check either of these out on a consistent basis (probably because my mind is trying to retain brain cells), two guilty pleasures of mine are 90 Day Fiancé (the one that comes on Sundays; they've got too many now to keep up with which is which) and Love After Lockup. There really is no justification or excuse; I just think that, as someone who works in the field of relationships so much, sometimes the dynamics on there fascinate me.
Take Angela (the older white woman from Georgia) and Michael (the younger African from Nigeria) on 90 Day, for example. First, I really need there to be more deep dives done on the topic of fetishizing; yes, it is very possible for a person to be with someone of another ethnicity and still be disrespectful AF to that person's culture, if not flat-out racist. Second point—there are a lot of women out here who claim to be Bible followers, will push back on submitting to their husband (umm, even though it's in the Bible—Ephesians 5 and Colossians 2) yet will turn around and emasculate their husband to the point where they basically want him to submit to them (check out "Are You His Partner Or His Second Mama?"). That's Angela in a nutshell. SMDH.
Over on WE tv, there's a particular couple on this season of Love After Lockup that, in many ways, inspired this piece. Their names are Quaylon and Shavel. If you know anything about the show, it's about people who fall for folks who've been in prison who then try and make the relationship work, once their partner gets out. My first love was in and out of the system for years so, I get how it can happen. Anyway, when I watched an episode when Shavel spent $5,000 of her hard-earned money to get Quaylon a truck as her play-brother looked at her like "WTF?!", and I then reflected on the times when I spent a lot of my own money in relationships, along with the clients I've counseled who've done the same, I figured that now was as good a time as any to address the difference between compromising in a relationship (necessary) and sacrificing (oftentimes unhealthy). Because, unfortunately, not getting that there is a difference between the two is an epidemic that's transpiring, both on and off of the tube. (Again, SMDH.)
All Successful Relationships Require Compromise
An author by the name of Donna Martini once said something about the art of compromise (in a relationship) that I really like. She said:
"Compromise is not about losing. It's about deciding that the other person has just as much right to be happy with the end result as you do."
Shoot, this alone is one of the reasons why some people aren't mature enough to be in a relationship; they are so consumed with what they want to get and who needs to make them happy, that they don't factor in if their partner is feeling fulfilled in the process. Hell, sometimes I wonder if they even care.
So, what are some clear indications that you're good at compromising in a relationship?
Compromisers are good listeners. It's not about them always needing to get the last word in or speaking over their partner. They genuinely want to know where their partner is coming from so that communication is effective.
Compromisers are compassionate. A compassionate individual is someone who notices the suffering (or even just distress) of another individual and strives to do what they can to alleviate it. They aren't apathetic; they are sympathetic and even try to be empathetic to their partner's needs where possible.
Compromisers are humble. Humility in a relationship is a true superpower because it means that you're not interested in being right all of the time, you can admit when you're wrong, you will be quick to apologize when you've offended your partner or you made a mistake, and you're open to seeing another perspective, even if it couldn't be further from your own.
Compromisers are flexible. I was recently talking to my nine-year-old goddaughter about how she wants her future husband, wedding and marriage to be. I must say that, for her age, she was extremely eloquent. However as she was going down the list, when I asked her, "What about your husband's opinions?", she said what a lot of grown single women have said to me as well—"His opinion doesn't matter." Lord. Compromisers aren't so bossy, so rigid, and/or so determined for everything to go their way all of the time, that they aren't able to bend if it results in both people being happy and both parties coming to a peaceful resolution.
Compromisers are solutions-oriented. At the end of the day, a compromiser is all about finding solutions and cultivating peace. It's not about conceding all of the time, but it is about not being so bull-headed and opinionated that mountains come out of molehills and then those mountains are the very ones that they are willing to die on…even if that means dying alone.
Bottom line, compromisers live by the motto that they would rather that they and their partner be happy together than be right (at least in their own mind) all by themselves. Compromisers are the kind of people who tend to have lasting relationships because they know that healthy dynamics require give and take on both sides.
Sometimes BOTH PEOPLE Need to Make Sacrifices
OK, so now that we've broken down a little bit of what it means to be a relational compromiser, let's spend a little bit of time exploring what it means to go to, what some would consider to be, the extreme side of compromising—making sacrifices in a relationship. To be honest with you, sacrifice is not a dirty word. In the context of what we're talking about today, it simply means that you are willing to give up something good for something even better.
A good example of a relational sacrifice is perhaps turning down a job in one city because your partner just proposed, you accepted, and you both have really good jobs where you currently are. However, peep that I said that the man proposed marriage (and you accepted). I know that, because I've made big sacrifices for boyfriends or even situationships, and also, because I'm now a marriage life coach, I don't really jump up and down about those types of situations. Why? Because if you're willing to give up something awesome, it doesn't need to be for the hope that something better might happen. There needs to be some sort of guarantee (at least, as much as there can be a guarantee). Sacrificing for a man who pledged to marry you is different than sacrificing for a guy you've been kicking it with for a while.
That's why Shavel (from Love After Lockup) stands out to me. After dating a man in prison (which really isn't dating and, believe you me, there is nothing like getting a "jail letter" because when folks are incarcerated, they don't have much to do other than think…a lot) for a few years, the first thing she does is buy him a vehicle and prepare a place for him to stay? Meanwhile, what has he done? Hell, what is he even capable of doing? It's not about him having a prison record (we know how a lot of our Black men end up with those); it's about him needing time to readjust to society and figure out how to take care of himself before even entertaining getting married or helping Shavel raise her daughter.
See, what Shavel is doing? It's not so much sacrificing as it is taking a gamble on her relationship. She's not merely giving up something wonderful for something that can top it; it's more like she's giving all that she has, in hopes that it will pay off. And when we get to this kind of point and place in our relationship with someone, especially when they are not reciprocating with these same types of gamble/sacrifices, that's when we know that we're entering into some very risky and, to be honest, unhealthy behaviors.
Too Much One-Sided Sacrificing Is Unhealthy
When I look back on, more than half of my relationships/situationships, if there's a main thing that I regret, it's that I acted like a wife in most of them—at least to some degree—while many of them weren't even really boyfriends. What I mean by that is, that when I give of myself, I typically give my all. Whatever a man needs, I am going to figure out how to make it happen and/or support him in ways that can oftentimes cause me to neglect my own needs or wants. Then, when things don't work out, many times, I don't have much to show for it. Hmph. That's why, I actually have a shirt that says, "I don't need closure. I just need my ex to give me my money back." That's not a cute graphic tee. That's for real, for real.
And when your own needs end up going by the wayside, continually so? That's how you can know when you're sacrificing, far more than you ever should. It's when the good thing that you're giving up is actually huge chunks of yourself. It can be chunks of your checking account, chunks of your self-worth, chunks of your heart—anything that, if the relationship ended right now, not only would you be devastated, you'd also be severely in lack.
Not hurt or inconvenienced; I mean that, on some level, you would be close to destitute. When you've entered into this portion of the program, you are not merely "bending" in order to meet your partner halfway. No, what you are doing is giving up so much of yourself that it can actually break you…or break you into pieces.
So, if you're currently in a relationship and you think that what you're doing is compromising, but there is something in the back of your mind that's saying something along the lines of, "Bay-bay, you are giving up the best parts of you and nothing better is gonna take their place"—please take some steps back. You're not compromising, sis. What you are doing is sacrificing to the ultimate extreme. And again, the thing about a "good sacrifice" is it's worth it. You don't have to gamble or guess…you already know. Your partner has made sure that you do. How can you know? Because he's out here making sacrifices too.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
It is Eartha Kitt who once said, “Aging has a wonderful beauty, and we should have respect for that.” I couldn’t agree more. That’s why, it really does get under my skin, that we live in a culture that is almost obsessed with staying young. Why? Don’t you want to grow, evolve…mature? That’s why I’m also not big on people who are damn near obsessed with looking 20 years younger than they are. Nah, personally, I think the goal of looking great for and at your age is where it’s at because, as my mother (who ages remarkably well) used to say, “I’ve earned every year. I don’t want to be looking like a child when I’m not.” (It’ll preach.)
This kind of wisdom is the type of hindsight that cannot be matched. Because again, while getting older shouldn’t be anything that any of us are afraid of or ashamed to do, wouldn’t it be great if we were more proactive than reactive when it comes to how we take care of ourselves — so that as we do age (and it is inevitable), we will age…gracefully…seamlessly…beautifully?
That’s why I took the time to ask 15 women in their 40s to share some things that they wish they had done in their 20s as far as physical beauty is concerned. Look at it as me doing a solid for any of you younger readers who really think that “I woke up like this” will last…forever. It won’t. And if you settle into that very real reality by taking good care of yourself now, the 40s will be where you actually end up looking better than ever.
*Middle names are used in all of my interview pieces, so that people can speak freely, no matter what the topic may be.*
“Some women aren’t gonna like this but, Black can crack. I see it often; especially when I look at a lot of these women’s necks — even celebrities. You can look like you’re 29 in the face but because you didn’t take care of your neck when you were in your 20s, it’s out here looking like it should be in a nursing home. That part of your skin ages and sags like everything else. I wish I had cared about that back in the day. I do now and yes young women, moisturize your neck every night and every morning. I personally use a combination of rosehip oil and lavender because they help to stimulate collagen production. Don’t wait until you have tree rings. Do it…now.”
“I wish I had taken better care of my breasts. Not [just] as far as my health; as far as their appearance. When you’re in your 20s, everything is perky and unicorns. Hit 35 and you start to notice that your girls like your feet more than your neck. Doing some exercises to make your pecs more prominent and applying some cocoa or shea butter every night are little things that can keep them youthful. Don’t wait. A breast lift is an option but those aren’t cheap. And if you can avoid paying what a used car costs to keep your breasts sittin’ high, why not do that now?”
“It might sound weird but I wish I had laid off of my protective styles more. It’s like we’ve forgotten that the point of them is to grow our hair out but that can’t happen if we’re never giving our hair a break from all of the tension that comes from tight-ass braids and twists. Now my edges are suffering and that can make you look older than you are. Those ‘Brandy braids’ are cute, girl, but so is having a full hairline. Don’t live in a protective style — your future self is screaming this at you.”
“I wish I drank less. I had a good time, trust me. But drinking on the weekends and then having drinks a couple of nights a week after work took its toll. My skin feels drier and it takes more work to keep it moisturized. These days, [I] eat edibles instead. It’s healthier and it has compounds in it that can slow down the aging process. Oh, to be young again.”
“I wish I had incorporated some sort of hand care. If anything takes wear and tear on a constant basis, it’s our hands and we’ll be out here having a beauty regimen for everything but those. Now my hands are starting to look older than I would like and so I’m having to work overtime to get rid of some fine lines and fragile-looking skin. What I do is get hand facials every couple of months. Look to see what spas or salons offer them. It makes a really big difference on your hands. Your arms too.”
“I’m the most comfortable sleeping on my side but it’s not the best for my face — anyone’s face, really. I used to hear that it would cause wrinkles but when those aren’t something that you have to worry about, you don’t care. I’m starting to see a few around my lips and so now I’m on my back more often. I’m thinking that if I had cared about this in college, avoiding wrinkles would not be on my list of concerns at this age.”
“Stay off of acidic drinks. Your teeth will age just like everything else and sodas and orange juice doesn’t help. Think about the people you know who look one way…until they smile. Then they look 10-15 years older. Go to the dentist regularly and schedule a professional whitening appointment. White teeth make you look younger. Just take good care of them. You’ll be glad that you did, if you do.”
Jaye. 44.“Gray hair is a blessing but my grandmother always told me that it can come in prematurely — and a part of what causes that to happen is stress and a poor diet. When you’re young, you don’t care about stuff like that. But let those first ones creep in around your hairline and suddenly, you’re looking for all kinds of hacks. My advice? That man, that job, and that relative that is already making you want to pull your hair out? Let them go. Your hair can’t take it. And all of that junk food you’re consuming? I still hit a drive-thru but these days, it’s more like a couple of times a month instead of during every lunch break.”
“Get your legs waxed. All of that razor shaving can cause discoloration or leave razor marks that can make your skin look older over time. Plus, it creates ingrown hairs and something about those can make you look older too.”
“Stop not taking sleep seriously. When you’re 25, you can go on four hours of sleep for days on end but it catches up to you. Sleep is what rejuvenates you and if you don’t get it, eventually you will look like it. I have dark circles that I’ve been trying to get rid of and a part of it is due to years of no sleep catching up to me. Whatever it is, it can wait until you’ve had at least seven hours. Don’t listen if you don’t want to. One day you will look in the mirror and wish that you did.”
“I wish I had spent more time outdoors. It’s no secret that Black people have more of a vitamin D deficiency than anyone else but trying to pile up on supplements when you’re older is a lot. When you’re at restaurants, eat on the patio. Sit on your back deck to read a book. Go for a walk in the mornings. I’m dealing with some hair loss stuff right now and it’s partly because I need more vitamin D. And thinning hair makes you look older than you should.”
“Waist trainers are bad for you. I wish those damn things would go away. That doesn’t mean that I don’t get that a snatched waist can take a few years off. Hell, I know that I took mine for granted back in my 20s. Snack on bananas and berries. Do some cardio even if that’s power walking through the mall. Stop drinking cold stuff so much. It might sound like a mama’s tale, but drinking things at room temperature reduces bloating. There are other things that you can do to get the curves that you want without smashing your organs. Lord.”
“I wish I cared more about my damn arms. Nothing makes you look older quicker than your upper arms not being in good shape. Get some five-pound free weights and set aside 15 minutes. Dry brush those bad boys; it’ll keep dimples from showing up. Keep them extra moisturized, so that those annoying little bumps won’t show up. And use sunscreen. The sun doesn’t know if you’re Black or not. It comes for us too.”
“Have a professional care for your skin. There are a billion things that you can do at home but an aesthetician is trained to figure out what works best and what doesn’t. Facials, microdermabrasion, and chemical peels from time to time have all played a role in me starting to look younger. If I had taken preventative measures, it would’ve kept some money in my pocket because I wouldn’t be going quite as much as I do now.”
“I wish I had been more choosy about my sex partners so that I could’ve had wilder sex. Listen to Auntie here. There is some stuff that good sex will do for you and aging that no cosmetic can. Sweat out those toxins. Work out that core. Take in some of that sperm. Just do it with a man you can trust and you can be totally free with instead of these knuckleheads. Yeah, better mate selection is the beauty tip that I recommend — and stop acting like it’s a rite of passage to start this at 35. Get a good man now and sit down somewhere. So that you can lay down in peace. That’s what I’ve got for you.”
Pass the plate around for Payce, y’all. As far as beauty and maturity go, she just preached — to women of ALL ages! Amen? Amen.
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