Opposites attract, but do they have to get so annoying?!
When you first meet someone and decide you want to spend a lot of time with that person, you talk about all kinds of interesting things that relate to yourselves and others.
You believe you have so much in common with one another that “this must be a match made in Heaven!”
You decide you want to spend the rest of your lives together, so you get married.
All of a sudden, you "discover" this person is NOT the person you thought he was before you got married.
Your spouse never seems to see things the way you see them.
Your spouse never seems to hear what you are saying.
In fact, it seems like your spouse must be living on a different planet than you are!
You want to talk about your feelings, and he says you’re being dramatic or too emotional. He appears to be so laid back and doesn’t know why you get so upset about dirty dishes in the sink, or a pile of dirty clothes next to the hamper. He doesn’t seem to notice clutter until you point it out to him and get upset about it.
What’s this all about?
You'd believed you were so incredibly similar, but now you argue all the time about the same old stuff. You believe you are right and your spouse is wrong — and vice versa. The thought creeps into your head that maybe you two are not at all compatible. If you are not compatible, maybe you should end the marriage.
Whoa, slow down and take a deep breath.
If you think about it, it wouldn’t be much fun being married to someone who thinks exactly like you and acts exactly like you and has opinions exactly like yours. If you were exactly alike, one of you would be unnecessary!
Instead of jumping ship, consider these 5 important tips about managing the differences between you and your spouse.
1. Learn to celebrate the differences between you and your spouse as opposed to doing battle over the differences.
Consider that where your spouse has strengths you may have weaknesses and vice versa. Build on each others’ strengths and help each other in the areas of weakness. Be supportive of one another and come alongside to build each other up. That is really what a marriage relationship is all about.
You walk through life together, encouraging each other and holding one another up. You gain strength from one another. You are on the same team not opposing teams! You are not in competition with each other — you are working together.
2. Remember this statement: “It’s just different, not right or wrong.”
When you have one idea about how something should be done and your spouse has another, remember that neither of you is right or wrong. You simply have differing ideas. You will need to learn how to compromise some things in order to overcome the differences and make decisions that you can agree with and experience a win-win kind of situation.
There may be some situations where you can agree to disagree, because there is no decision that needs to be made. You can have your own opinions, and make a conscious choice not to let those opinions come between you.
3. Be gracious toward each other in areas of your differences in order to bring compatibility to your relationship.
Be respectful of each other in those areas where you are different. Learn from those differences. You can always learn something new if you are willing to entertain the thought that your spouse might actually have some good ideas, even if those ideas are different from your own.
4. As the saying goes, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”
Some things just aren't worth arguing about. Your spouse may be more laid back than you are in some areas. You may become more anxious or stressed than your spouse about certain things.
Learn to communicate with each other and talk about the reasons you feel so stressed. In return, listen to your spouse talk about things that may be bothersome to him or her. Make a plan to both work toward helping each other.
An example might be that you tell your spouse clutter makes you feel chaotic inside, and your spouse says he will try to keep clutter in check. You agree that you will try not to become so agitated with clutter. You are working together to solve a problem.
If there are things that might be annoying to you, but not to your spouse, you might mention them but not in an argumentative way. You may decide that you are not going to let those things bother you or cause you to become upset.
5. Remind yourself that you both need to live in peace.
Sometimes you need to let go of stress and anxiety and let yourself be more laid back like your spouse, and sometimes your spouse may need to step up to the plate and be less laid back (or it could be the other way around).
Marriage is about working together and recognizing that you are two different people with differing thoughts, feelings and opinions — and that these differences are a good thing.
You can learn a great deal from each other when you are willing to let go of doing battle over differences and celebrate them instead.
“Love, laugh, and learn!”
Dr. Deborah McFadden is a couple’s counselor at Village Counseling Center. Receive your free copy of the Better Life Magazine filled with articles with topics from taking good care of yourself, resolving conflicts in your relationship and discovering how to have success in your life.