BLOG: Turn Relationship Differences Into Delightful Synergy
You’re Just Different (And That’s a Good Thing!)
You and your beloved are NOT the same. The range of experiences, thinking, preferences, desires, needs, interpretations, filters and triggers vary tremendously from person to person.
Knowing this AND embracing this makes all the difference in enjoying a playful, peaceful, passionate relationship that thrives year after year.
Might Even Clash
Your habits, ways of communicating, learning, stretching and coming together can look quite a bit different from those of your beloved. They might even clash, UNLESS you’re aware of what’s happening, you can get curious and appreciate those differences and - bonus round here… even look for how to use those differences to your relationship’s advantage.
Complex + Often Changing
Relationships can be complex, confusing, frustrating and overwhelming. ESPECIALLY when we think our beloved thinks the way that we do.
One of the reasons relationships can be so complex and difficult to navigate is because human beings, with all their feelings and needs, ARE complex and often changing moment by moment.
Enjoying a healthy, happy and hot relationship takes being emotionally nimble, seeking autonomous and aligned growth and developing quality communication skills.
Most couples lament “it shouldn’t be this hard.”, when the reality is, relationships CAN be really hard. Especially if you’re poorly prepared for the depth, intensities and nuances a relationship is often called to navigate. Plus let’s face it, most of us get little to no training or education on identifying our feelings and needs, communicating them in a way they get met and do the same for our beloved. It’s not your fault if you’re feeling annoyed, irritated or just resentful over your beloved’s differences. It just comes naturally to humans. But being human is NOT always helpful.
Emotion Into Gold
If you resent your differences and fall prey to judgement, blame and trying to change each other, consider that conflict is your invitation to turn the current problem into a pathway to your future.
“Conflict is the alchemical soup that transforms raw emotion and instinct into pure gold.” ― Harville Hendrix
It Doesn’t Have to Be So Hard
There IS a better way. Relationships don’t have to be so hard. But you have to stop expecting your beloved to think or act more like you do. Stop expecting there to be no conflict or to agree or want the same thing all the time.
You can lean into Loving Better by seeking to understand yourself and your beloved better. Explore your own and each other’s inherited beliefs, personality traits and desired preferences for relating. Create awareness around how you think, what soothes or inspires you and what stresses or triggers you.
When you let go of ego, get curious about the source of the conflict and focus on what works to move forward, it’s amazing what you can create together.
Creating a Couple Culture where you automatically look for the chocolate + peanut butter combinations is a juicy way to live and love. Knowing you’re different and embracing it, can be a foundational relationship skill that impacts ALL areas of your interactions.
Gaining facility with how you’re different AND considering how those differences can actually become advantages is a game-changing-pro-couple-move that creates an impact both immediately in the day to day and for the long term, year after year.
Know Thyself (And Your Beloved)
The more you know about yourself, your thinking, your feelings and your needs - and those of your beloved, the better. Awareness is a foundational step to awesomeness!
A Few Fun Assessments
Here are a few fun assessments to get to know yourselves and each other better and set you up for embracing the synergy of your different ways of thinking.
- 5 Love Languages (Free Quiz) - Love your beloved the way they WANT to be loved. Find out each other’s priorities for being loved. When I was young, I didn’t get to see my dad much. Often when I did, he’d bring presents to make up for his absence. I scored gifts LAST of the five languages. My husband learned what I loved most was Quality Time and Acts of Service. Every time he puts a glass of water next to me, my heart swoons.
- Personality Hacker (Free Quiz) - Learn more about how to make better decisions based on how your mind works. When my husband and I worked with this company, we discovered what we each could do in 5-15 minutes to reset ourselves when feeling drained. I need to see patterns in chaos without any emotions - puzzles! My husband needs a closed loop, physical, sensory experience preferably with water. I used to get frustrated with how often he showed until I got that it was his “reset rinse” process and was about WAY more than a shower.
- Myers-Briggs Assessment - Tells you a lot about yourself. It assesses where you focus your attention, the way you take in information, how you make decisions, and how you deal with the world. ALL really helpful to know about yourself and your beloved. My husband and I have three categories in common and one different. Understanding those differences have meant everything to our relationship. I am an extrovert and he is more of an introvert. Dancing in those differences has been a BIG issue for us. NOTE: We’ll be speaking about the introvert/extrovert dynamic in relationships in a Relationship Mastery Summit in August 2021. Sign up here to be notified when that goes live. (Sixteen Personalities is a great no-cost version of the Myers Briggs too).
- The Strengths Finder was a game changing assessment for me. Even though it has a professional slant to it, identifying my top 5 strengths showed me myself in a way I had not seen before that completely impact our marriage. These results also emphasized to my husband how social I am as WOO, (Win Others Over), was my highest score. When that score told him that “a stranger was a friend I hadn’t met yet, he got my need to meet new people in a different way than before. (You can also find a free version of the assessment at High5)
Use + Adapt This
These are just four fun assessments you can use to explore who you are, who your beloved is and how your personalities work. As usual, I’ll encourage you to Use And Adapt This - make this getting-to-know-you exploration your own. Find your own interesting assessments, grab a book of exercises like my FAVORITE, even 30 years later after it was first printed is, Getting the Love You Want by Dr. Harville Hendrix and Dr. Helen LaKelly Hunt.
What works is our focus here so explore what resonates for you and your beloved. And don’t be afraid to do the assessments on your own if your beloved isn’t yet inspired. Do yours and share them and then see if they want to do theirs. Entice, don’t push!
Individual + Union
Understanding yourself, your beloved and how you’re different is a way of honoring BOTH the individual and the union.
Differentiate as two unique people, with your own life experiences and ways of processing or proceeding. Then move forward together, united in a delicious synergy of differences.
We don't get harmony when everybody sings the same note. Only notes that are different can harmonize. The same is true with people. ― Steve Goodier
Be authentic and open with one another without compromising your own core values and beliefs. Embrace those differences between you, but not in a way that has you harm the relationship for the individual or harm the individual for the sake of the relationship. The relationship can serve the individual and the individual can serve the relationship beautifully. As a practice, look for the synergy not compromise.
Family therapist Murray Bowen points towards a differentiated healthy adult as someone who can.
“Advocate for themselves and treat each other like separate individuals who have their own wishes and desires rather than as objects that need to be controlled and molded in order for the family system to survive.”
Easy? No. Worth it? Yes!
My husband will tell you it has NOT been easy to be with me, but it HAS been worth it. We are both better people because we’re together. We’re happier too. ONCE we realized, we’re different!
Do this together, on your own, or both! Bring play to it too. Be proactive.
- Pick an assessment / quiz to take.
- Take it!
- Reflect on the results. What did you learn about yourself?
- Consider how what you learned about yourself shows up in your relationship.
- Share it with your beloved.
- Invite them to do their own.
- Let us know how it goes.
Your Ally in Aiming for Awesome,
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