Enjoy Your Relationship More by Appreciating Differences

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Do you remember when differences were exciting? Learning about your mate was like reading a mystery novel. In the beginning, even your mate’s flaws were endearing. You weren’t trying to change each other. You accepted them just the way they are.

Time passes. Households are shared. Stress happens. Tension rises. You start to notice differences with your mate. The differences start to get under your skin. You wonder how you can tactfully get your mate to see there is  a better way, your way.

What if we don’t have to change our spouse to be happy again? We have a choice. Try to change the differences or grow to appreciate them. Remember what it’s like to be attracted to your mate by accepting individual differences.

How Do You Appreciate Your Differences?

  • Be curious – Observe. Interact. Differences can be interesting. Enjoy learning about your spouse. Sameness can be dull. Differences can be lively and engaging.
  • Look for similarities – If all you can see is differences, look for commonalities. You may find you have more in common than you thought. Maybe you value the big things, but differ on how to get there. Or, maybe you both lose your temper with your kids, yet you get angry about different behaviors.
  • See the humor – Be light-hearted. We trip and fall and get up again. We are all trying to do the best we can. It can even be humorous to keep learning the same lessons again and again. Humor, when used respectfully, can be a great tension reducer.
  • Respect individuality – Differences don’t mean that one is better or worse, right or wrong, it’s just different. When there’s room for individuality, there is room for connecting and growing together.

“When we judge, we leave no room for love.” – Mother Teresa

What’s Good About Having Differences?

Appreciating differences with your mate can make them more attractive to you. Yet, connecting with your mate doesn’t stop here.

How upset do you get when you disagree or argue with your mate? Do you tend to avoid conflict to keep the peace? At all costs to you or your marriage.

I think we all agree that tension is uncomfortable, but what is good about having disagreements?

  • Mystery – Differences keep some mystery in the relationship. I don’t think I want to spend endless hours talking to someone who thinks exactly like I do. I think I would bore easily. New and different can be interesting.
  • Learning – Kids learn about differences. Kids can relate to each parent in a different way. For example, a child may know that with Dad, I shake it off, but with mom I can cry about it. Both lessons are helpful.
  • Problem Solving – Differences open up more possible solutions to problems. As a couple, you may compromise, or you may take turns.  Decide when to be flexible and when to hold your own position.

So, do opposites still attract? Yes and no. I think we are often more similar under the surface than we think. We may look or act different. Yet, we each want to be ourselves while enjoying personal relationships. Accepting differences is only one of the ways couples are able to enjoy each other more.

What helps you appreciate differences with your mate?

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published for the Psychology, Philosophy, and Real Life blog. It has been revised from the original title of “Marriage Secrets Unveiled: Do Opposites Still Attract?”

Photo Credit: Felix Fracis

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