Building a strong relationship involves accepting differences.
Marriage is a joining of not only worldly possessions, but a blending of two personalities into one household. When the honeymoon stage of marriage ends, and the daily grind of chores, jobs, bills and kids begins, differences of opinions will arise. How we handle and accept these differences will either make marriage a success or lead to the doors of the court house before the ink on the marriage license dries.
For most people, marriage signifies the end result of head-over-heels-in-love dating. However, loving someone does not prevent us from having a difference of opinion, temper flare-ups and arguments. What we do when we have a problem with our spouse is what matters the most to the relationship. Whether our differences are of opinions, beliefs, habits or culture, accepting our partners for the people they are is more important to the relationship than being right.
Communicating our differences in a calm, rational way helps defuse possible fights long before they start. Accepting that a spouse does something in a different way, has a different opinion or a different set of beliefs doesn't have to be hard. Nevertheless, it does take some work to not blurt out that it's "my way or the highway." We must resist the urge to correct, chide and scold that their way is wrong because it is different from our way, which we usually perceive to be the right way.
Instead of jumping to the conclusion that a spouse is automatically in the wrong, we should take a step back and examine the reason for the way he/she thinks, does, or believes. Sometimes it just takes seeing the other person's point of view in these situations to alleviate the problems. We have to ask questions, observe his/her way of doing something, and take a stance of understanding rather than obstinately sticking to our way as the right way.
We have to reconcile in our own mind that our way may be the right way for us, but might not be the right way for someone else. Our spouse also has to understand that his/her way might not be right for us either. When we talk gently to our spouse about our differences we can achieve a great and deeper understanding of each other. Our egos stay in check when we look to find an understanding rather than a chance to show that we are right.
Here are four steps we can take to assure that we are understanding and accepting our spousal differences:
1. Actively listen to one another when a conflict occurs.
2. Make an effort to clearly state our way and paraphrase their different way back to them.
3. Understand definitions that each other may hold, since sometimes we are saying the same thing in different ways.
4. Keep personal attacks completely out of the picture and always try to speak with love and kindness in our voices rather than harsh aggravated tones.
Accepting our differences will allow us to love our partners for the people they are and appreciate the value that they bring to the relationship. There will always be times when we disagree, but loving our spouse despite those differences can separate a great marriage from a failed one.