Indulgence is the new compromise

I found a new TV show to watch: Lie to Me.  Do you watch it? It’s based on real people, a professor and psychologist at some university in California who do research on micro-expressions – fleeting facial expressions that give indication of the person’s real feelings (and whether they’re lying).

“She just indulges him,” one character said about another.  The female psychologist (who wears really fabulous clothes) handles the eccentric professor by indulging him.

*thought ensues*

Would our lives be better if we indulged each other a bit more?  Probably.  Indulging one another isn’t about stepping back or backing away or backing down.  The indulgent character isn’t less capable, respected, smart or worthy.  The indulgee gets to be himself because really, he can’t help it (can any of us?).

Compromise sucks.  Compromise ensures neither person gets everything they want, but how else do you get through the myriad decisions confronting spouses?  Indulgence.  Maybe.

I remember (inaccurately) an article about Kate and Andy Spade, the married owners of the Kate Spade company, where they said they’d agreed long ago that the person who cared most got to make the decision.  Put another way, they indulge each others’ needs and cares.  I do find myself weighing in on something that clearly matters more to my husband than to me.

And really?  Indulging one another is just a more graceful way of saying, “I can’t stop you from being you — and really, I don’t want to — so I’m going to let you, even though we all know it wouldn’t matter if I ‘let’ you or not.”



4 thoughts on “Indulgence is the new compromise

  1. Hmmm…. maybe this is why I feel like my marriage is so easy. Whoever cares more gets to make the decision about it. We’ll talk about the options or point out things the other might not have thought about, but in the end (s)he to whom it matters most is ‘the decider’. I think it’s a great policy, and without it feeling painful or restrictive I think it leads to compromise more easily because you’re not constantly battling for it all. When you win some easily, it makes you more inclined to let your partner do the same.

  2. That’s how my marriage works, too. The only challenge lies in when we disagree about something, but neither of us really care all that much. Then we end up with a half-painted master bathroom for a year and a half.

  3. I think this is how my marriage tries to work. There are just plenty of times where we each try to indulge the other person, and than have to try and decipher who really cares more.

  4. I don’t know that we’ve ever explicitly discussed it, but I think we do tend to let each other make decisions when it matters more to the other person. Overall, I think we are generally in agreement on the “big things”… I just struggle sometimes being as patient as I should be in the everyday things. You know what I mean?

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