How to Make the Differences in your Relationship be Assets
Life has been particularly full and interesting lately. We’ve been working (and playing) to create and shape the workshop that we are offering in a few weeks. As is often the case when we create something together, we are also gaining more awareness about ourselves, each other and our mutual self.
We have again been reminded of our differences; our different skill sets, our different approaches to action, our completely unique and different personalities and how this affects what and how we do things.
None of these things infringe on our basic core values or present any problems, challenges or estrangements. In fact, they have brought us so much pleasure and enriched our plans for the workshop so much that we want to share again just how important and valuable differences can be in a relationship.
Even though we have the same goal for our workshop, we have different skills and different thoughts about how to present it. This has broadened what we can offer and also made it so much more fun to plan and create. One of us gets an idea and the other knows how to execute it. One of us suggests something we can incorporate and the other uses that as a jumping-off point to find a whole new area to explore.
Differences in a relationship can either cause tension and distance or strengthen and enrich us Click To TweetPhil was expressing to Maude how much he appreciates her connecting with people to tell them about the workshop, both in person and on social media, and how happy he was to see all the different ideas she had and how much she was enjoying herself doing it. Neither of these activities are strong suits for him or really appeal to him to get involved in, even though they are critical to the success of the event. Maude had an idea for multimedia within the presentation, but no idea of how to do it. Phil spent one day researching and experimenting and came up with a perfect plan. He also added a myriad of other possibilities while he was at it! How great to have a Tech Wizard in the house, thought Maude!
We both enthusiastically worked on aspects that for the other would have been a struggle. Vive la différence! More than that, we recognized and applauded each other’s contributions. Who doesn’t like being seen and acknowledged?
The very differences which can cause tension and distance in a relationship can strengthen and enrich us if we don’t try to recreate ourselves in our partner. If we let go of seeking agreement through sameness, of being right by demanding identical points of view or way and style of doing things, then we can reap the rewards of the uniqueness of our partner. Consider differences in taste, like sports or friends or movies. They’re not a problem. A relationship is not a three-legged race, so send your partner off to enjoy themselves.
When it comes closer to home, like finances or child-rearing, you move into the area of values and what is important to you. We have found that, because our core values are aligned, issues like these can always be resolved. They’re an opportunity to explore our own expectations and attachments.
When we talk of differences enhancing us, we are not talking about deal breakers or core values. Those are not the kind of differences that can be overcome or ignored; they are not the things that contribute to enrichment. These type of differences aside, everything else can be greeted with openness, as a gift being offered that adds to your life experience. For those who embrace this opportunity in their relationships, growth and adventure are theirs for the taking!
Here’s one of those unusual quirks in the English language: cleave can mean to stick together or to split apart. This is not just semantic drift; they actually have different origins in the Old High German words kleb?n and klioban. So choose whether your differences help you cleave together or cleave apart.
Image from the collection of Suzanne Dechert