You’ll sometimes hear people say, “Marriage is hard work” and when you take a moment to think about it, you realize there is no truer statement. When two people come together and form a union for the rest of their lives it’s a huge deal, and almost strange that it has become the norm. How much do you have to love someone to continue choosing/ loving them after he’s left the toilet seat up for the thousandth time? Or after she brings home the third stray dog after you both admitted that two was enough? If you think of all the ways marriage is a stressful, time-consuming partnership we begin to see that in some ways marriage is work.
In a band, there has to be a consensus as to what the music will sound like, an agreement for each person to put forth their best effort to play the tune as it was written (vows). The drummer agrees to play soft enough to hear the other instruments and if this doesn’t happen the agreement is broken. No matter what collaboration looks like, when two or more people come together to achieve the same goal, at some point in the interaction there will inevitably be compromise.
Two lawyers, Thomas Miller and John Oats want to form a law firm and one order of business is naming the firm. Of course Thomas wants it to be named “Miller & Oats, Attorneys At Law,” and John prefers “Oats, Miller & Associates.” Either of these names will suffice but each person has their reasons for wanting the name to be what it is. One thing is for certain, if they can’t come to an agreement about the name, they won’t be able to succeed in business. If one member decides to compromise, sometimes they do so with no resentment at all. Other times they view it as a concession that will need to be repaid. “We can put your name first Thomas, but I get the bigger office.”
We all have different visions even if we have similar goals. The way we achieve these goals necessitates compromise and negotiation if we are to work with another person. Without that, we resort to manipulation and force to influence others. It happens in the world of business the same as it does for a married couple trying to decide what color to paint the kitchen. The “work” that we do is not so much the physical labor, but the challenge of being tolerant and understanding of the other person, and making concessions without resentment.
Much of this depends on honest communication and respect but that is difficult to hypothesize before you get into the actual situation. It is like having a roommate–best friends until you decide to live together. Even though you both have similar interests, one person could be a neat freak and the other person a slob and that makes for conflict. Some things you don’t find out until an opportunity presents itself.
Both marriage and professional collaboration require a reduction from a plurality of notions into a singular action. Even in our own mind we may hold opposing ideas until we resolve to one action. This process is even more underscored when the ideas come from two minds having varying experiences, ideals and expectations. However many contrary prospects, there must be a dominant thought that initiates movement even when there is a recessive thought that may influences it down the road.
So, Thomas’ name goes first and John Oats gets the big office. The root of collaboration is the same in every relationship where collective decisions must be made. An individual must assert themselves at times to preserve their identity and mitigate resentment, and at other times the individual must concede to the direction of another for the benefit of the partnership.
Whether or not we are married we are constantly being asked to work with people and make concessions. Each interaction has a place for conflict but if concessions are made voluntarily they can be more productive than if they are forced. The question we must ask ourselves is when is the appropriate time to concede or assert ourselves and which of these leads to the betterment of the group. We must consider the timing, durability of the relationship, and also the stakes.