In my seminars and talks that I give many people are forever telling me that they wish their partner was easier to get along with. I ask them what the problem is and a good deal attribute their problems with their partner being too different from them. I am going to let you in on a little secret – that is not the problem. If you and your partner were the same your relationship would fail or fall flat in a short amount of time. It would make choosing what movie to see or going out to dinner a lot easier.
I am here to tell you the secret to compelling and passionate relationship is the differences. Yes, it is certainly imperative to have specific things in common for your relationship to succeed. Having the same values is very important. They may be to a greater or lesser degree, but knowing and understanding what your partner values is a very important aspect to a successful relationship. Sharing the same relationship goals and knowing what the future holds is also important. To, of course, a mutual respect for the other individual. The similarities are like a strong foundation. They allow you to build on this relationship.
Take the relationship I have with my beautiful Margie. People look at us from the outside and think we also get along and share all of the same interests. We have even been tagged in posts with the #relationshipgoals. Humbly, I would say they are right. We do have an amazing relationship and it gets better every day. The reason that is true is not because we get along all of the time or are really alike. Neither of those are true. It is the differences that give our relationship its spice. Just like in food, there are times when we have a little too much spice, or differences, and we end up getting burned. Just like a recipe you refine, we learn from that and move along.
Allow me to share with you some of our differences and how we actually benefit and grow from them. Let us take music for an example. We do like some of the same bands. We discovered our love for the artist Michael Franti together, and have been to see Jackyl a few times. As a general rule, Margie is more pop and r and b, while I am 80’s hard rock and country. On any given day she will be listening to Pink and Chris Brown and I will be listening to Ratt and Chris Janson. How does this benefit us? When we DJ together we are able to help a wide range of people pick songs or put a name to a particular song they are trying to think of. We also can introduce each other to new artists and songs the other may not have heard.
Then there is the speed in which we get ready. I can be ready at the drop of a hat. 30 minutes later Margie is still trying on different hats. This gives me time to do things like enjoy a cup of coffee, look up directions for where we may be going or simply warm up the car. Margie can also be sillier than I am. She feels more comfortable doing goofy things in public than I do. In this difference, she teaches me to be a little more relaxed in public and I keep her from fines and jail time.
Some differences are what make our relationship as wonderful as it is. We both like to learn but do so in very different ways. I love to read. If Margie reads, she is asleep in half a paragraph. Our solution? At night I read to her as we lay in bed together. Not only does this allow both of us to learn, which makes us happy, it is a wonderfully romantic solution to a challenging problem. She loves shopping and I love walking in nature. How do we solve this? In addition to occasionally joining each other for these trips, we use the time wisely. She spends time with her daughter who also likes to shop, and I walk in nature with my mother. Time apart makes our hearts grow fonder and we both have time with others that we love.
The problem in relationships is not the differences, but what you do with them. Differences give you contrast and variety. It is that excitement at spark. Differences in what you enjoy intimately can lead to many new and fun discoveries. Differences allow you to show love. If you do your best to enjoy something your partner really loves and you do not, how can they not love and appreciate that? You can use those differences to learn more about you, your partner and the love you share. Next time you are tempted to blame a difference for a problem in your relationship, ask yourself, “How can I use this difference to make my relationship even better?” The answers you discover may very well surprise you.