Carolyn Hax: Does compatibility boil down to location, location, location?

(Nick Galifianakis for The Washington Post)
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By Carolyn Hax
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Adapted from a recent online discussion:

Hi Carolyn!

My boyfriend and I are both looking forward to a lifetime together, but for a combination of work, school and family reasons, can't agree on a location to spend it in. Neither of us wants to push the other one to compromise, but neither of us wants to be the one to compromise, either. We don't want there to be any resentment or inequality in terms of whose needs/wants are more important.

I wonder if this is a sign that we aren't ready to become a married couple. Do you think a strong, healthy, marriage-ready relationship would make this decision easy? Or is our struggle normal?


Your struggle is normal. But while you're right to fear resentment and inequality, it's possible to get so caught up in line-item fairness that you miss the point of being together. Unless you see his needs as not just equal to but bound to your own, and vice versa, then you still haven't reached the level of intimacy that I'd advise taking into a marriage.

Right now, neither of you wants to bend. When both of you want to bend to please the other, then you've reached the sweet spot of intimacy. And when each of you keeps the other from bending too much, that's your confirmation of arrival.

I would suggest that both of you let go of your current notions of what it would mean to "win." Presumably both of you have legitimate reasons for wanting place A or B -- but when it comes to defending those positions, it's natural to bring in other arguments for A or B that are more for the sake of winning, and not as legitimate or essential as you make them out to be.

These are the things you need to identify, and surrender. This is where you open your minds to each other's ideas.

And if you're worried you will open your mind and he won't, then we're back to your not being ready for marriage. You know you're there when you know the other person has your back. Even when you disagree.

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