There Was One Huge Relationship Must-Have Missing In My Marriage

Without this, any relationship is doomed.

Woman sitting on bed sad A's Images | Canva

When my husband and I got married, I thought we had it all. 

Love? Check. Compatibility? Check. Common interests? Check. 

No apparent red flags here.

But there was one huge relationship must-have missing in my marriage. I hadn’t noticed while we were dating for nearly six years. I’m pretty sure it’s because we were overly social. A good time Charlie and a good time Charlotte.

At this time, we weren’t making any huge decisions. It was more like, "What friends are we meeting tonight? What bar do you want to go to? What appetizer are you going to choose? Would you like a Heineken or a Stella?"


Honestly, when put that way it’s kind of scary we got married when we were so young.

We were never forced to do one very important relationship necessity: We weren’t compromising. 

As I was handing my then-boyfriend a brewski, I had absolutely no idea that the word compromise wasn’t in his vocabulary. I was naively ignorant of his inability to negotiate. I didn’t realize he was a man who wouldn’t do anything he didn’t want to do. How could I? He rarely turned down a party invite, a weekend away, or a cocktail.

RELATED: How To Compromise In A Relationship Without Sacrificing Your Needs


When I say my husband wouldn't compromise, I’m not talking about strictly major things.

I’m talking about small things and big things.

His sisters wanted to chip in a large amount to buy their parents something for Christmas. My husband refused. I tried to negotiate with him but he wouldn’t agree to any part of it. Eventually, I asked him if he would give them the money if he didn’t have to buy me presents.

He finally agreed and bought me nothing for Christmas, putting that money toward his parent's gift. If he was going to do something he didn't want to do, he would definitely demand a price to be paid.

Another instance: His sister was getting married on an island. It was only a few months' notice and cost-prohibitive for the whole family to go. I told him he needed to go alone for his sister’s sake. He refused to go. 


I wanted to paint our living room and dining room walls. He didn’t want to. I asked if we could pay someone to do it. He said no. My only choice was for me to do it despite having our first baby who was only three months old and being placed on bed rest his first month. It took me several weeks, an hour here and there while our son napped. Most women are still working on getting dressed and keeping their house clean with their first baby. He didn't care.

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A section of drywall needed to be patched in our family room. He refused to do it or hire someone to do it. My friend’s husband had to come do it. Oddly, my husband felt no embarrassment and no shame.

Our second home was being sold and I needed my husband's help. He refused even though some of the things I needed a man to help me with. He shamelessly watched my sister and friend come over and three women get up on ladders and fix things while he sat in his pajamas and watched television.


It didn’t matter what it was.

His mother was sick in the hospital for a month and he refused to go. I needed a ride home from surgery and he refused to pick me up. He refused to miss a party because of an important occasion. 

It didn’t matter.

My husband wouldn’t do anything he didn’t want to do.

He wouldn’t do anything he disagreed with.

Not only did it make me completely exhausted and miserable, but it meant there was zero conflict resolution. The only reason we got along most of the year was because we had similar interests and friends.

And because I learned to keep the peace, I did and took care of many things on my own.

RELATED: My Marriage Counselor Told Me I Was Being Overly-Responsible For My Husband


My husband was diagnosed as lacking empathy with a narcissistic personality disorder. We discovered this when we went to marriage counseling for the second time. There was no fooling a psychologist. Unfortunately, our first marriage counselor didn’t have the advanced degree to detect this severe personality disorder.

But you don’t have to be a narcissist to be difficult. There are plenty of immature, demanding, spoiled entitled personalities who lack the ability to compromise and resolve conflict.

I remember saying something to my husband occasionally:


"You were never a good candidate for marriage," I would say.

He wasn’t.

Because one huge relationship must-have was absent.

A partnership of any kind, especially a marriage, demands compromise.

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Colleen Sheehy Orme is a national relationship columnist, journalist, and former business columnist. She writes about love, life, relationships, family, parenting, divorce, and narcissism.