How to Deal with Differences in Relationships Constructively
In This Article
I always tell couples – it’s not a problem that you have differences in relationships.
Differences in relationships are actually a good thing!
Rather, it’s how the couple overcomes incompatibility in relationships, handles the differences and disagreements in relationships that matter.
And to be clear, when I say differences, I don’t mean that one of you likes Thai food and the other prefers Indian food. What I am referring to is a difference of perspective, opinion, needs, etc. This is when our differences really push our buttons!
According to the Developmental Model by Drs Ellyn Bader and Peter Pearson, there are 2 common types of couples when it comes to managing differences in relationships.
This is when we blame, get angry, criticize our partner, insisting that we are right. And we believe that if our partner would just understand and agree with us, then it would be all good. Over time, these patterns can lead to resentment, unresolved issues, and anger.
This is when we just want to keep the peace, so we go along to get along.
We cave in and don’t initiate tough topics, we are quick to agree because we don’t want to burden our partner, upset them, or cause an argument. Over time, these patterns can lead to boredom and just feeling like roommates.
Both of the above types are common, but they just don’t work so well for the couples in a romantic partnership and only lead to more differences in relationships.
How to deal with disagreements in a relationship
The greatest gift you can give your relationship is to see, understand, and validate one another. This will go a long way in beating differences in relationships, hollow.
Its a core human need we all have. The problem is that is so hard to do when we don’t agree with what we hear. But of course, you won’t always agree, you are 2 different people.
Here is an example of my own to share with you. My husband and I were driving, and he was explaining a situation to me. When he paused I said,
Michelle: Is it alright if I tell you my opinion?
My husband: Sure, sounds like you have it figured out.
Pause. Did you feel that?
Well, I did at the time, it felt like a sarcastic reply from him to me. I felt an immediate knot in my stomach. It would be easy to fire back, and I had in the past, but it was a pattern I was determined to change. So I decided to ask him a question instead.
Michelle: Did you mean to be sarcastic in what you just said?
My husband: No I didn’t- I just meant it sounds like you have some thoughts to tell me about.
I’m glad I asked. It was difficult to ask a question while being triggered but I was given a great reward for my efforts.
Also watch this video on how to deepen the connection with your spouse:
We can disagree and still love each other
The challenge is to hold, explore, and be curious about your partner’s truth, in your relationship even when it is different than yours.
This is a major key to connection, increased intimacy, great communication, and conflict resolution. If you can’t do it in the heat of the moment then taking a time out is helpful so that you can once again feel clear-headed in your communication.
Also, it is crucial to keep reminding yourself to not allow the differences in relationships to destroy the love bond you share with your partner.
It would be helpful to remember that both of you have invested time and a great amount of nurturing building the bond. Don’t let being different personalities in relationships be a roadblock to the relationship satisfaction and longevity.
I invite you to try this challenge to overcome differences in relationships and remember, it’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves. ~ Edmond Hilary
Also, for any further questions about preparing yourself for a successful marriage, you can reach us here. If, you are keen on seeking telehealth sessions, don’t hesitate to seek powerful support for your relationship, we are there for you.
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