How to Create Peaceful Relationships by Balancing Your Differences

How to Create Peaceful Relationships by Balancing Your Differences

PHIL: I suggested that we write about the sense of equality between us, but Maude said that she sees equality as a measuring word, a counting up of who has done what, so she doesn’t relate to it, and it’s not a word that she uses.

It needs to be described in a different way, so let’s start with differences, which sound like the opposite of equality. Here, I’m looking at how we are different, not having differences; that’s a whole other conversation.

We have different skills, strengths, capabilities, and interests; they can’t be tallied up like Olympic scoring. How do you value the ability to soothe a grazed knee against balancing a checkbook?

It can be hard to see these clearly. It’s easy to see where the other person falls short: they forget to pay bills on time, or don’t tidy up, or anything that, for you, is the obvious, efficient way to do things. It can be less easy to see their strengths because that means looking at your weaknesses, and who wants to admit to being weak? Yet this is an opportunity to learn and grow. How do they do that so well? Why is that so difficult for me?

When the strengths of the other person are not recognized as such, they can become sources of contention. The things that bother you in other people may be things inside yourself that you don’t want to look at. For instance, an extroverted partner can be seen as embarrassing, exhausting, flirtatious, or unattentive.

Besides looking at these differences, another way to handle differences is to look instead at similarities, of which everybody has many: we’re human, we breathe, we eat, we like stories. When you look at what you have in common, the differences don’t vanish, but they move to the corner of your vision.

To handle differences, Maude and I have a wonderful sense of balance, both a passive and an active sense. The passive sense of balance is my sense that there is a balance between us. The active sense is being conscious of the connections and strengths and weaknesses, and making sure that I contribute and stand up when it’s my strength. I don’t want to make out that they’re obligations, because there is a pleasure in using my skills.Balance in relationships comes from focusing on strengths, not weaknesses #relationships #quote Share on X

MAUDE: How can you find balance in your relationships? Asking ourselves this question brought up some useful aspects of peaceful relating.

At first, in trying to verbalize his thoughts, Phil was using the word equality in the context of relationships. I heard and understood what he was referring to, but found myself flinching over the use of that word. It’s odd, but I seem to have a direct association with the word equality and of people counting up who does what, who gives what, or who doesn’t do or give enough. Since we don’t find that way of relating fruitful, we sought better language to use in our discussion here.

In some ways, this is another angle on using the differences between each of us positively to further our relationships. This is especially true in our close relationships where we have a chance to work together to develop balance between each person in the give and take of relating. This comes about when both parties work toward a sense of balance, without measurement, but rather with a desire to give of themselves and to offer their unique abilities to the other.

The concomitant of this is to realize that each party has different strengths and weaknesses, and to put our attention on the strengths, rather than obsessing over the weaknesses. The latter is not productive of anything very useful (We are not talking about abusive behavior here!). Looking at someone’s strengths can also give you insight into your own weaknesses, and thereby bring you more personal insight, while increasing your appreciation of the other

The act of each looking at not only the strengths, but also the goodness of the other, enriches the sense of how much differences add to relationships. The desire for balance in a relationship comes from the intent of goodness toward the other from each party in the relationship, and the application of one’s strengths to that end.

As mentioned above, this is best practiced first in our close relationships. Once we have that experience and can recognize how to do it, we can take that knowledge out into the greater community of relationships.

Photo credit: Maude Mayes
Photo note: A balancing act in Alameda Park

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8 Comments on “How to Create Peaceful Relationships by Balancing Your Differences

  1. Yes! So lucky for us all that we are different. That we can each bring more than the other..and share the gifts of our multi talents and expand our individual complex worlds with more a larger pallette of language and skills. These differences are gifts that allow each of us to see more than we would from only our own perspective. It is clear that we each bring different skill sets and once we learn to celebrate our differences and set aside our propensity for “measuring” this against that; our lives are fuller and problems are solved with grace.

    • Beautifully said! Thank you. It sounds so simple and yet putting this into practice is often filled with struggles. It is a rich road of learning and does teach us much about ourselves as we move toward what you so aptly describe.
      with love

  2. I never considered the concept of equality as a trigger for judgmentalism but you make a good point. When one is overly concerned with all things being equal, they often overlook the values that contribute to the fruits that come with fairness and appreciation.

    • Hi Esther,
      I did not mean equality in terms of equal rights. However, when one begins judging whether each contribution is ‘equal’ is where problems arise. That kind of measuring often leads down a blind alley.
      with love

  3. Great thoughts, as always, young lovers! :):)

    Phil, I installed the app You Created (yessss!!) and will report back after I’ve tried it!!


  4. “…intent of goodness” stood out and struck a chord. That, and you always find the most fitting photographs to what you’re writing about.

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