An ABC report this morning reminded us of an interview of Nancy and Ronald Reagan in which, when asked the secret to keeping romance in their marriage, Nancy Reagan said “I think it used to be that one of you thought that it had to be, everything had to be your way. Or 50/50. And it isn’t always 50/50, sometimes it’s 90/10. And you have to be willing to give the 90. Or he has to be willing to give the 90…But it’s something you want to do.”
It’s easy for compromise to be perceived as a battle of wills that is only successful when each side loses and gains equally in the endeavor. Chalk it up to our competitive nature, our modern perceptions of acceptance, or the FOMO (fear of missing out) in our modern society that spurs us to reject delayed gratification. But, when we take stubborn stances in the name of fairness, we rarely recognize the losses these positions bring to our relationships.
Mrs. Reagan must have understood this well. She knew that compromise only worked when perceived over the long term. The very long term of a lifetime. Her support of her husband, indeed of his legacy after he had passed, demonstrated a deep commitment to her marriage. This was not a principled commitment, but a personal, loving devotion to a relationship formed by two imperfect people who recognized that perfection in love was achieved by compromising in unique ways and included ratios that might feel very different from 50/50.
Thank you, Nancy Reagan. Random Spotter is humbled by your wisdom and wishes more people felt the same way.