He likes to be on time. She's always late.
She's a detail person. He sees the big picture.
He takes the world as it comes. She needs control.
She likes dinner at the table. He's a grazer.
He loves to learn. She wants things as they are and as they have been
And then they get married. Can they make it?
We'll bet your knee-jerk answer was more than likely "No. They're too different."
Don't feel alone. You're right in there with most people who think that differences can be attractive, even exciting, but they don't make for a solid marriage. That's why one of the most popular dating sites on the internet advertises a compatibility test. "We'll find someone just for you." A more appropriate pitch would be, "We'll find someone just like you."
Is that what you want? Someone just like you? Someone who thinks like you, feels the same way about things, believes the same things you believe? Again we'll bet that you're probably thinking--"Well, yes. That's what I want."
But why would you want a copy of you? Ease? Safety? Harmony? Less chance for conflict?
That's what most people believe. But we want you to know that after nearly eighteen years of working with couples, that kind of sameness is the downfall of many, many relationships and marriages.
Why? Because, no matter how much two people have in common--religion, politics, race, financial status, whatever--when they get into a relationship they soon discover the many ways they are different from each other. That's an inescapable fact of life. There simply aren't two of us alike--not even identical twins.
So what's the result when two people who believe in sameness--or oneness as some people call it--find themselves face to face with their differences? They don't know what to do. They're scared, confused, challenged, and self-protective. What they expected isn't coming true. Then what?
Rather than learn how to live with who they really are, they use their differences to trash each other, and end up in painful power struggles they can't win. Their relationship comes apart and they don't even know how or why.
But here's the question. Can love, relationships, and marriage succeed based on the differences between two people? Not only is the answer yes, yes, yes--but real love and real romance aren't even possible without them. In fact, if the two of you aren't recognizing and respecting the differences between you, you'll can never feel truly loved--because you're not.
"Okay. Okay," you say. "What can I do about it?"
Change your mind. Sound simple? Well, it is really.
"If it's so simple," you're saying, "how do I do it?"
That's the number one question we get asked. So here are a couple of keys.
One, remember that your partner is not you. That may come as shock to some people, but when you forget this critical point, you become all involved in yourself. It's all about your thoughts, your feelings, and your fantasies and how your partner is not matching up. Then it doesn't matter who your partner is or what your partner does, you'll never be satisfied. Talk about a sure-fire recipe for disappointment and conflict!
Two, curiosity is key. Don't assume that you already know what your partner is thinking or feeling in any given moment. How do you feel when someone does that to you? You don't like it, do you? Then don't do it to the person you claim to love. Find out instead. Yes. It's that simple. Find out. Ask questions. Don't stop until you feel that you understand. And be sure that what you understand lines up with your partner's experiences. That way you're on the same track.
And what's the payoff for all of this?
We call it "letting love lead." You discover instead of assume. You both get to be seen for who you really are. And, best of all, you get to be loved for who you really are and you love your partner in the same way.
Love has been called magical and this is what that means. Being loved for who you are--really are--no masks, no games, relaxed, open, and free.
Is that really possible? Yes!!
Is it really magical?. You bet.
© 2008, Judith & Jim
I have always made a distinction between my friends and my confidants. I enjoy the conversation of the former; from the latter I hide nothing. - Edith Piaf
Judith Sherven and
Jim Sniechowski are husband and wife and the best-selling
authors of four books: "The
to Love 365 Days a Year" and
Loved for Who You Really Are: How the differences
between men and women can be turned into the source of the
very best romance you'll ever
know. Their fourth is
Smart Couple's Guide to the Wedding of Your
Dreams, an important book for
anyone who cares that weddings support the couple and the
marriage they are creating. Claim your free relationship
tips at www.makingtheordinaryextraordinary.com
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