Good thoughts rory.
I think that there are many instances where people don't actually have to compromise just because they have a difference in desires. Another factor that comes into play is how invested someone is in having their desire prevail and whether the joy of seeing their partner happy in getting their desire fulfilled outweighs whatever degree of disappointment they feel.
Some simplified examples.
MrS wants steak for dinner, I want spaghetti. Do we "compromise" and have lasagna which neither of us wants? No - that would be idiotic (yet I see people make "compromises" like this all of the time - "If I can't get what I want then you can't either.") If he REALLY wants steak and I only prefer
spaghetti - we have steak. If we have equal desires - maybe we have spaghetti THIS time because LAST time we had steak. OR we could go out to a restaurant that serves both and each get what we want.
Dude wants to have sex twice a day, I want to have sex once a week. Do we "compromise" and decide to have sex four times a week? No - I am not going to agree to have sex that I don't want. I can agree however to open myself up to the possibility of "wanting" more sex by making other changes that might allow that to happen - not planning so many evening activities for example. He can support this by making changes that increase the chance that I will be "in the mood" - taking care of chores before I get home from work so we have more cuddle/quality time. OR he could find himself a "morning girlfriend" and have lots of sex with her
I don't really see the solutions to the above examples as "compromises" in the sense of looking at what each person wants and calculating where the mathematical "middle point" is. I see it more as making decisions and structuring our lives so that each of us gets the things that are important to us most of the time. Most problems have solutions - sometimes you just have to be a little creative in getting to them. It helps if each person actually knows what they want and can look at underlying factors as to why they are uncomfortable with their partner getting what they