How Do Differences in Your Relationship Strengthen It?
To be in a successful relationship, it is very helpful to know and be comfortable with yourself.
We all try to fit in with each other, just as the birds in a flock act together. We make ourselves more attractive to other people by how we dress, speak, behave and react. It is ubiquitous, yet the influence of others on us is hard to notice. Coming to know yourself includes recognizing these influences and choosing which are appropriate.
The more you understand yourself, the easier it will be to experience an undefended state with each other because you will not put up a false front to make yourself acceptable. This leads to a full sharing of who you are, and an acceptance of the differences between you. These differences are inherently present with any two people as a result of the completely unique nature of each individual. They are an enrichment of who you are and can greatly add to your quality of life, but only when you do not feel assailed or attacked or afraid of the difference.
In your relationship, accepting the differences between you greatly adds to your quality of life Click To TweetMany people, especially when young, enter into a relationship from a sense of incompleteness: some void they want filled, some fear they need assuaged. As we come to know ourselves better, we come to terms with these needs, and are quite happy with our lives as individuals, and yet we still desire an intimate partnership. When we reach out from this place, we generally seek something other than ourselves, something to add to us. If this were not the case, then we would just stay happily alone.
Even when we are not operating to fill a sense of incompleteness, there are still things we can receive within a relationship that are intrinsically impossible to get alone. There is the actual experience of a relationship, the sense of communion with another, even if it is our cat. The only way to have the experience of an orange is to have an orange; you cannot get that experience from a lemon. Some other elements we can only get from a relationship include shared sexuality, mutual support and synergy.
In the beginning of relationships, most of us are attracted to our sameness, our agreements and how well we are matched. It is important to remember that when your core values and connection are matched and strong, the differences between you become a source of strength and inspiration.
There are two kinds of differences. One is the fact of otherness, where each of you organizes the shelves differently, and the other is where you express your mutually held values in totally different words and often different actions. This is where the opportunity to be added to most strongly occurs.
The kind of vulnerability that is possible in an intimate relationship allows you to show yourself fully and to know you will be seen and acknowledged for who you are. To experience difference without separateness can be a wonderful strength that your relationship can offer you. The goal is not to agree on everything and be the same, but to create outcomes together that will add more to each of you while supporting your individual development.
In the first few years, of our relationship, Phil was always struck with what he called the quality of non-interference. He felt there was no attempt at controlling him or expecting him to be something other than who he was. He felt his individuality was respected. Maude was deeply struck by Phil’s openness and his willingness to share who he was, how he felt, and what he thought. In offering himself in this vulnerable, undefended manner. Phil created a strong bonding connection that allowed Maude to really experience another person who spoke and acted differently than she did, but who shared her values and meanings deeply. This led to an important enlargement of her world.
So develop yourself and respect each other’s individuality. You will both grow to be more than you were on your own, and life will get juicier and fuller as a result.