The phrase “long term relationship” used to scare me. Hilarious, I know but, in the past, I’d often hit a point in a relationship when it would start to ‘get serious’ and that’s when I’d tap out.

Nowadays though, I’m deep into that exact thing – the ‘long term relationship’.

Nearly six years into it, and I’ve realised that the cliché I used to freak out about, actually doesn’t apply.

Relationships are not all about compromise

“Relationships are all about compromise”, says the cliche. This is what used to freak me out, because compromise often insinuates that one person in the relationship would have to give up an element of their self or their happiness in order to “keep balance” and make the other person happy.

I loathed the idea of compromise. That’s probably because I have a tendency towards being an insular and self-centred individual, especially when I don’t get my way. Perhaps you do too – maybe we all do? I just know I’m done with trying to deny it.

A Refreshing Perspective

So it has always surprised me – albeit pleasantly – how the cliché of compromise has played itself out in this long-term relationship. Simply put, we don’t do compromise. Rather, we take turns at who gets to “go first” or take the seat of priority in a situation.

Here’s how we do it

My significant other and I both lead incredibly busy lives. Both of us juggle an array of professional responsibilities that often interrupt our routines or require us to be supportive of the other one. He might be on stage one night, and I’m presenting a talk the next.

We have what we call a “back up system” whereby our mutual support of each other exists without question. If he needs me, I’m both feet in. The very second I need him - he will be there. If it means moving schedules or turning something down, we’ll do it. Why? Because if it’s our turn to “go first”, then it’s our turn. No questions asked.

A Mutual Ground

One thing we are both immovable on though, is my kid. If there’s a schedule conflict that can’t be worked around, one of us will step in and be the attending parent for an event. If we can both be there, then that’s a bonus. But, no matter what happens, at the very least, one of us will be there to support my kid when she needs it.

I’ve had to rely on this when I have late meetings or evening events, and I have had to learn to lean. Difficult to do when you spent years being so defiantly independent that it took you ages to let him carry some groceries for you. Over time and learning though, I’ve realised I can lean.

When people ask me how our relationship works, or question how what was once deemed impossible (by me, and for me!) has become a daily reality, our answer is simple. We don’t compromise. We merely take our turns.

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