This morning, while walking at the beach, I saw a little girl alone with her surfboard staring out into the roaring sea. She was freezing and shivering. “My dad is still out there surfing” she responded when I asked her. “Oh, does he know you are standing here waiting in the freezing wind?” And she assured me that he would know.

When I walked on, I took a look out to sea myself but could not make out which of the surfers might be her father and I could not see anyone making an effort to come to shore soon. I left her and walked on but turned my head around every now and then to see whether her father would finally pick her up.

My thoughts went to my own children and I asked myself whether I would have left one of my sons standing there, shivering and freezing. I doubt it.

You see, having children means making a lot of sacrifices.

My younger son was born in 1995 during a very hot summer in Germany. It was the same year that the famous artist Christo had finally got the permission to wrap the German Reichstag in cloth for three weeks. It was an absolute happening and was featured by every media outlet in Europe. We had planned to drive to Berlin and spend a weekend there to witness the wrapped Reichstag and celebrate this event.

It wasn’t to be.

Our second son demanded attention and we decided it would be too stressful for all of us to drive to Berlin in the heat with a newborn baby. So, we didn’t. Am I resentful? Not one bit.

Another time, with our first born at 7 days old… I had made the perfect steak with greens and a nice sauce and plated it for my wife and I. At the exact moment we decided to sit and eat, my son also decided that he would be fed. So, I put the plates into the oven to keep them warm and we ate thirty minutes later – a lukewarm, overcooked steak. It happened all the time really, I’m sure you have similar jokes in your family.

There are so many stories I share with my wife where one or both of our kids spoiled an experience for various reasons.

As parents, we actually make sacrifices on a daily basis.

The same is true for your relationship with your spouse.

A successful marriage is a path of compromises and sometimes sacrifices.

If you are not prepared to give in and to find a way of compromise, your relationship won’t last. You’ll build resentment.

If you perceive the actions, choices and wishes of your partner as threatening because they interfere with your own actions, choices and wishes; you are missing the chance for a having a loving, intimate and respectful relationship.

You see, in your relationship, it is not about winning or losing, it is not about whose wishes are fulfilled more often. It is all about the respect for each other and the mindfulness we give.

If you would run the actions, words and requests from your partner through the filter of Love and Understanding first, you would be able to see the reason behind their actions. And usually the reason is not to harm you or to anger you, but deeply rooted in their own world and situation.

Seeking first to understand the reason why your partner is acting a certain way allows you to react in a much more loving and respectful way. It helps to see both sides of the coin.

In those moments, you will be happy to sacrifice your own wishes.

Of course, you could also ask her/him what is really going on in their life right now. Which in turn allows you to talk about your own situation and maybe you can find a compromise where both of your wishes can be fulfilled in a harmonious way.

After I walked about half a kilometre from the girl on the beach, I finally saw a man paddling to shore and taking his daughter into his arm and they both left hand in hand.

And we will never know the full story that unfolded in this situation. Maybe they had made an agreement to go surfing together for ten minutes and after three minutes the girl had had enough and her father wanted to teach her a lesson about keeping promises. Maybe this happens each time and he just wanted to make a point by not coming to the shore immediately. Or maybe he was just surfing and enjoying himself not thinking of her being freezing and shivering.

For more tips please refer to my book – now available as e-book for you to download.