Compromising is vital in most relationships, but sometimes you just can’t do it. For example: you can’t have and not have ferrets. So…what do you put your foot down about?
“I’m sorry I didn’t get you a ferret.”
“We’re getting divorced.”
This was a recent exchange between my husband Patrick and myself concerning his birthday present.1 He can huff about divorce all he wants, we are never ever ever getting a ferret. Some people have deal-breakers, and ferrets are mine. They’re smelly little weasels–little weasels that people seem to attain, and then KEEP ATTAINING. I have never known someone to own just one ferret. They all own three ferrets. Five ferrets. A million ferrets. I cannot let our household fall sway to the ferret curse. My ferret stance is a fairly facetious one, for sure, but my foot is firmly down forever!
This brings up, of course, the topic of deal-breakers in general. Sure, people have the common “no cheating” rule. But beyond that, is all fair in love and war, if you agree to it beforehand? I posed the question of deal-breakers and prenuptial agreements to a number of women: Did they have them? If so, what were they?
In our premarital counseling I said couldn’t make any promises for fidelity and possibly staying if he ended up paraplegic. Cancer, sure. No use of limbs? Maybe not. I’m not proud of this, but was being honest.” She went on to add, “OK, this one is bizarrely specific, but mountain climbing. My ex used to love getting up at 4:30 AM, driving for three hours into the Rockies, and [spending] the day walking up and then down a giant mountain. I hated all of it, and when we broke up I vowed to never do it again. Success! (I’m fine with little one-to-three hour walks IN the mountains, but once you start talking elevation gain and scree slopes I am OUT.) Morgan Turigan
Cheating is most likely forgivable unless it turns into a serious relationship or something. Rachel Porter
No living in one place forever or refusing to travel or try new things. Jo Harper
Not willing to compromise generally would be a deal-breaker. My husband is super stubborn but will usually come around and we can come to an agreement on all important matters. But if he just stubbornly refused to compromise it would probably be a deal-breaker (maybe not the first time depending on the subject, but pretty quickly thereafter). Christina Kogan
These sound all well and good…until things get complicated, usually as you and the other person become more involved. Compromise has to happen in most functional relationships, whether it’s over ferrets, the bank accounts, or the dishes. And sometimes, you can think you’ll react one way to something, and once it actually happens, you do something else entirely.
Take Alyssa Mooney’s story:
Everyone has their bodily fluid that they find worse than all others, mine is spit. And living in redneck land, dipping is prevalent and […] drives me batty. Plus, hocking a loogie will send me running. My dear, darling husband, when we first started dating, HID his dipping for months. I was a smoker and he was too occasionally, so he got his fix that way and only [dipped] at work or when I was not around. By the time I found out (he sucks at sneaky) I was all schmoophy in love with him, and he promised to quit. We’ll be married five years in September and just had a fight about a spit bottle two days ago. Upside? I’m more desensitized to spit. Downside? My husband is disgusting.
I prodded a bit. He was still spitting, and they were still together. Would this qualify, then, as a time she compromised on what she considered to be a deal-breaker originally?
She explained, “If I knew before we dated, I might not have gone out with him. (Might. He’s pretty cute.) But as I found out when we were already pretty in love, I had to figure out if I could deal with it. [The fact that] he said he’d quit, and did for a bit, helped. Now it’s a bone of contention, rather than a deal-breaker, I guess.”
And therein lies the truth of the matter. Because honestly, if my husband came home one day with a ferret, I’d…probably not dissolve our marriage over it. In fact, I know I definitely wouldn’t. My marriage is worth putting up with smelly weasels for. I would probably suffer several weasels. But shhh. Don’t tell Patrick that.
Photo by: USFWS Mountain Prairie
- He ended up with an anteater puppet. Hey, if a man wants an anteater puppet from World of Mirth for his 30th birthday, by god, he should be allowed to get one. ↩