Home Archive Prev Next

It's Important To Honor Individuality In Your Relationship

FlowersOne of the deepest and, yes sacred, parts of any relationship is the total mutual respect for each other’s individuality. Your partner – and everyone else – is different from you. You may think that is too obvious to even be pointed out; you may think it’s bound to cause difficulties, but unless these differences are profound, they need not be a problem. When you understand that both of you are unique and that this is a gift to be savored and appreciated, you are on the road to creating a wonderful relationship.

MAUDE: I’ve been fortunate in that my parents held this kind of appreciation and support for the unique quality of each member of our family. So I think I entered the social world somewhat expecting this type of behavior from others, filled with the wonder of how others acted and deeply interested to find out who they were.

In my journey through three long term relationships (5 years, 26 years, 14 years) till my relationship with Phil (starting almost 16 years ago) I did not find partners with whom to share this type of togetherness. I did find numerous intimate friendships where this kind of acceptance and respect for the individual was possible, and I still treasure and partake of most of those.

I think part of the unfulfilled possibility was due to my lack of true knowledge about myself, little reflection on what my basic core values were, and mistaking sexual connection for the deep intimacy we are describing here.

Perhaps because Phil and I were both experienced, and both knew ourselves well by the time we met, we were able to move easily into the type of peaceful relationship that is based on respect for the others’ uniqueness. Neither of us is in the least interested in changing the other or wanting them to act and behave as we do ourselves. We marvel at the difference and at the same time the unity between us. I feel deep support for who I am and for what I feel I want and need to do. I feel safe that Phil is not trying to change me or correct me. He mostly only offers advice when it is asked for. If we come from two divergent points of view when making decisions and solving problems, then we communicate. We listen to each other. We look for and find mutual solutions for action.

PHIL: It is a challenge to remember that other people are just as complex as I am. I know my interior world intimately; my unspoken thoughts and desires, my history, my wishes and plans for the future. None of this is visible when I look at someone else; all I see is their behavior, and it is easy to react only to that. When I’m out in public, I sometimes try to push past that surface view by looking at all the strangers and imagine what their world is like. Each of them has an entire world of which I know nothing. What are their joys and struggles? It might be divorce, illness, love, ice-skating, children. But mostly I am in my own world and just responding to the stereotypes they bring up for me.

With Maude, as with friends, it is different, of course. I want to understand, and I have at least some insight into how she behaves. But understanding is secondary. The differences are what they are. With Maude, it might be her parking style or the huge number of friends she keeps in contact with. These differences between us nearly always add variety to my life. Only on rare occasions do we have to hunt for a solution.

How do you react to differences; are they irritations or vast upsets in your life? We’ll be writing next week about how to look at them and the responses you can take.

Photo credit: Phil Mayes

We love hearing your questions and feedback. Click here to post them on the bottom of the blog. 
 Headphone iconClick here to listen to Phil reading this blog.

Successful Relationship Reading Corner

Books on shelfThis week, we wrote about how important it is to honor individuality in your relationships. Here are some articles discussing different aspects of individuality and its importance in relationships.

Honoring Individuality "One of the core values of The Evolution Group is Honoring Individuality. This we try to do for one another as well as for our clients. To honor can be defined as: To treat someone with admiration and respect. Individuality can be defined as: The qualities and characteristics of a person that distinguishes them from others. Much of the work of personal growth, identifying goals, and self-actualization is rooted in this ability, and yet so many people are unable to honor individuality in their lives."

Staying Compatible by Staying Yourself "What makes being in a relationship tricky is that it provides the opportunity for two completely different experiences. On the one hand, it is an opportunity for two individuals to be supported by each other's appreciation and love for the person their partner is. Both partners are enhanced by such an association, and flourish and grow as people. On the other hand, people can go into a relationship with a fantasy that the union will assuage their insecurities, hurts and unresolved issues from their past."

How to Maintain Your Individuality in a Committed Relationship "The key to having a fulfilling life as an individual is liking yourself. If you don’t like yourself you will seek out others who will either keep you so preoccupied you can hide from your pain or you will cling desperately to anyone who makes you feel good. Either way, your well-being and happiness has now become dependent on the other person and whether they know this fact or not, they will feel the pressure."

Spreading peace one relationship at a time
Phil and Maude
Read our blogs at PhilAndMaude.
Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter and Instagram
Email us at philandmaude@philandmaude.com
If you are interested in newsletters you've missed, see our archive.
Do you know anyone who would enjoy this newsletter? Tell them to sign up at http://philandmaude.com/howtwo/.