Having different qualities can have positive affects in a relationship, learn how to avoid conflict
Anthony and Emma have been married for 14 years—a second marriage for both. Anthony is a flyer, i.e., he has many passions. He loves to travel, he loves to work hard; he is a busy man. Emma is a grounder—she loves to be home, to nest, to be with their children and grandchildren.
Anthony and Emma were originally attracted to each other because they valued these qualities. Flyers and grounders are often attracted to each other, which is a good thing. If both were flyers, they might never spend time together. If both were grounders, the relationship might lack passion. Yet it is these differences that also cause much conflict in their relationship.
One of the major conflicts is that Emma wants more time with Anthony. As a result, she often tries to get the time with him through some form of controlling behavior—getting angry, crying or criticizing. While Anthony loves Emma and wants to spend time with her, he tends to get resistant when someone is trying to control him. So instead of coming home from work earlier to spend time with Emma, he gets even busier. They often end up in a negative protective circle, with Emma pulling and Anthony resisting. If he does give in, he ends up feeling resentful.
Even when Anthony wants some time off to replenish and spend with Emma, conflict arises. Anthony wants to travel somewhere beautiful, while Emma would much rather stay home with him and spend time alone together with their family.
Anthony and Emma love each other and have been able to maintain the spark in their relationship. Yet they are not happy with their frequent arguments, which is why they consulted with me.
Resolving their conflicts means that each needs to accept that they truly are very different, and that it is these differences that create the spark in their relationship. Instead of trying to change each other, which is what they do in their arguments, they need to accept and value that Anthony is a flyer and Emma is a grounder. This means that Emma needs to accept and support Anthony in his many passions, instead of criticizing him for being too busy and getting upset whenever he acquires a new passion. It means that Anthony needs to accept and value that Emma needs time with him alone and with family, and adjust his schedule to meet this need. Instead of being in a power struggle with Emma pulling and Anthony resisting or giving in and then resenting Emma, both need to care about what is important to the other person.
If Emma cared about Anthony's need to fully express himself in many ways, she would stop waiting for him to be with her and develop her own interests. If Anthony cared about Emma's need to fully express herself within her important relationships, he would make sure he had enough time with her and their families. If Anthony felt fully supported by Emma, he would feel more compelled to spend time with her. If Emma felt fully supported by Anthony, she would not feel a need to control him. Each would get more of what they want by caring about each other rather than controlling and resisting.
As Anthony and Emma came to understand and appreciate their differences, their conflicts over time and place gradually resolved.
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This article was originally published at http://www.innerbonding.com/show-article/1160/flyers-and-grounders.html. Reprinted with permission from the author.