What I learned from 90 Day Fiance

I spent most of quarantine like a lot of you. Aimlessly walking around my house trying not to go slowly insane. I didn’t have the luxury of working from home, as due to COVID, my entire department was laid off. In between self pity and countless bottles of Jameson, I discovered a gem of a show called “90 Day Fiance”. I’m not going to insult you with the details of the reality show hit, but I will sum it up as follows:

Long distance and cross cultural, love meets tv cameras and national judgement.

This show has everything. From aspiring rappers, to sugar mama Karen’s, to sweet country boys, to more sugar mama Karen’s, to Ukranian women who may or may not be real, to you guessed it…more sugar mama Karen’s. For the life of me, I never understood why these women would send money and gifts over so freely to these dudes. But in reality, it’s like watching one of those Nigerian email scams in real life, only the guy on the other end isn’t a prince.

There is a lot to learn from a show like this, but the biggest thing I learned was compromise. Or in some cases, the lack thereof. In a recent episode, this lovely Ukrainian woman is engaged to this sweet simple country boy from Washington. They could not be more opposite. He loves beer, she doesn’t drink. Like me, he finds joy in a Tomahawk steak, shes a vegetarian. The latter came up recently when she watched him in horror devour this gorgeous piece of meat.

Side Note: I totally respect vegetarians and vegans, but I mean, a beautiful piece of medium rare filet in a garlic butter sauce? Chef’s kiss!

Any way, the woman asked if he would try giving up meat for a week. He sheepishly agreed as she says to the camera how doing this was a sign of respect to her and a good compromise. It caught me a bit off guard. My first thought was “compromise”? What are you giving up for him? He doesn’t have meat for a week and you get to sit back and enjoy not having the smell of bacon in your house? But then it hit me. Oh yea, she moved to another country for him. Big compromise.

The thing about relationships, is that they are chock full of compromise. Whether big or small. Women will look past the toilet seat always being left up, if you don’t judge us for eyelashes you find on the counter. You take out the trash, I’ll put away the groceries. But then there are the bigger ones. Where do we live in relation to our family members? Or different religious beliefs? Are you a smoker and your partner isn’t?

Learning to balance compromise in a relationship, rather than it being a punishment, is a huge part of making it work. Compromise, like communication, isn’t easy and doesn’t happen over night. It’s the basis of that tried and true piece of relationship advice “Pick and choose your battles.” You can either make something into a huge deal or stop and ask “Is this something that I can compromise for?” Because maybe, you are doing something that drives your partner up the wall, but silently, they haven’t judged you for it.

Compromise. It’s the name of the game.

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