For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
I've spent the last fifteen years in a marriage of give and take. Both my husband (an actor and writer) and I are highly ambitious and during each stage of our marriage and careers we've managed to create new goals and benchmarks. And, it hasn't always been easy. After all, our goals don't necessarily coincide. My interest in finishing a doctorate right as we were planning a cross-country move, or his interest in checking out the west coast scene as I was taking advantage of new professional opportunities in New York didn't necessarily work out. The truth is, going through life two-by-two is great but decision-making for two can be a headache.
Relationships aren't the only catalyst for compromise. At any point in your life, you may be faced with the following decisions:
salary vs. experience
longer commute vs. time with your family
out-of-state job offer vs. staying put
school vs. work
a home you love vs. a home you can afford
In many cases, the decision doesn't have to be an either/or. Rather, you can find a place, where you're comfortable somewhere in the middle.
Some will argue that you should never compromise; that doing so is an abandonment of self. But that's unrealistic. At some point, for you to maintain your relationships, lifestyle, integrity, security - something or somebody's got to give. So the questions are: what and when are you willing to compromise?
And, there are no right or wrong answers, but again it comes down to knowing your values. If you don't know who you are and what you want, you'll have a difficult time making the right decisions for you and the people you love.