How to Overcome Impossible Differences in Your Relationship
We see it all of the time.
Two people who seem completely opposite from one another fall in love and end up together.
There are those couples who are physically very different—one is quite short and the other quite tall. Or, one might be the veritable social butterfly who is extremely extroverted while his or her partner thrives on being quiet and at home alone with just the two of them.
There are countless ways that opposites attract when it comes to love. People of vastly different religions, upbringings, parts of the world and habits meet up, feel a spark and create a relationship together.
As weird as the romantic “odd couple” appears to others to be, somehow it works.
Except when it doesn't. Sometimes opposites-- even differences-- clash.
You and your partner might be of the same religion or socio-economic background and have relatively similar lifestyle preferences. Yet, there could be significant differences between the two of you. These differences may be the source of recurring tension and conflict.
What can you do?
Stop making your partner (or yourself) wrong.
Bottom line is this...
As long as you believe that either your way has to be right and your partner's way wrong (or vice versa), there's going to be distance and there will be arguments or tense moments.
Try to come to a place where neither of you has the “best” or “right” way to be. This will bring instant ease to you and to your relationship.
We know, it's not always easy.
Let's say, for example, that your partner watches porn on the internet and you are firmly against pornography. You and your mate have debated and debated about this issue and neither of you is budging.
From where you stand, from your morals and ethics, it could be clear to you that pornography is “bad” and maybe even “unhealthy.” That leads to the belief that your partner is somehow “wrong” for enjoying watching porn.
We don't want to make a case for or against pornography, but we will say that if the use of it takes you and your partner further away from one another, you've got problems.
The difference, in this case, is stark and it can feel impossible to resolve. There are times when a difference crosses a line and, for you, pornography might be that line.
A difference-- even one like this-- doesn't have to be the end of your relationship, however.
Go within and ask yourself if you can set aside your need to be “right” about your way or your position. If there is room for you to consider your differences from a non-judgmental place, this is a powerful shift back toward connecting.
Open to learning from from your differences.
It's essential that you be honest with yourself. If the differences between you and your partner seem to violate your deeply held morals or ethics and you can't let go of the need to be “right,” then perhaps this is a time to consider ending the relationship.
However, if you can ease up on the judgments (even just for the moment), you can start to open up to learning from the differences between you and your partner.
New parents provide another excellent example.
When a couple become parents for the first time, there's a lot of learning that happens. Inevitably, each person cares for the new baby in a unique way. One might rock and sing to the upset or cranky baby. The other may walk with the cranky baby or hold him or her in a certain way.
If each parent insists that “my way” is the best, they will most likely encounter even more stress than usually goes along with having a new baby.
Instead, they can learn from one another. Through observation and asking questions, a lot of learning can happen. Each parent may stick with the way that he or she prefers to soothe the baby, but each can better understand the possible value and merits of doing things differently too.
You can try to learn from the differences between you and your partner with an intention to understand. Watch and ask curious questions and see what you discover.
Look for places of connection.
If a particular difference between you and your partner annoys or troubles you, it's possible that this difference is obscuring other aspects of your relationship.
You might not be seeing the many ways that you and your partner actually are similar and do agree. Instead, all you perceive is the difference and all of the conflict it seems to bring with it.
Broaden your view.
Yes, acknowledge the differences between you and your mate. Keep communicating about them in ways that improve mutual understanding and— if possible-- acceptance. Create agreements so that you both can remain true to your priorities and keep your relationship healthy.
But, be sure to also notice the ways that you connect as a couple. This noticing can deepen your connection and it could happen in spite of AND because of the differences between you and your partner.
Susie and Otto Collins are relationship coaches and authors who help couples communicate, connect and create the relationship they desire. Click here to get their free ebook, Passionate Heart-Lasting Love.