Compromise is “ settlement of differences… reached by mutual concessions” (Webster). That is, by each party accepting an imperfect solution, giving something up, not having something they want. But the adage that “compromise is when neither party is happy” is not really true either.
To me the key aspect of compromise is learning to be genuinely happy about the outcome by recognizing that the parts (the individual wants and concessions) were ultimately less important than the whole (the agreement as well as the training in overcoming one’s own metal blocks).
If it’s just two people who get together and get to each do what they want (unless you get incredibly lucky or are really easy-going), that’s not typically a mature marriage. In marriage that lasts many years and witnesses various life challenges, you get so intimately intertwined with the other person that it is impossible for each to person to be independent. There are too many details. Sometimes it’s glorious until one person gets sick or you have kids or you take on arduous home renovations, etc. At some point, there will be deep conflict.
Marriage is a team effort, and that means sublimating your own self to another person in some respect. It’s typically associated with “agape” or “selfless love”, also sometimes called “charity”. In other words, the practice of marriage like the practice of meditation aims fundamentally at softening one’s own ego. My own practice of both leaves something to be desired. I won’t claim to be a good examples of these values, but this is nonetheless my view.
I think a good illustration what “charity” means in marriage is encapsulated in the words “How can I make your day better?” in this article http://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-paul-evans/how-i-saved-my-marriage_b_6958222.html
There is an article I read years ago about a woman in an abusive marriage, who instead of walking out decided to be even kinder to her husband and says she eventually healed their marriage. She admits it’s not the ideal example or recommended, but it’s an extreme example of charity that helped heal both parties. I can’t recall the article.
Here’s another one on a similar theme “He said he was leaving. She ignored him.”: http://theweek.com/articles/502812/said-leaving-ignored