Can Opposites Make a Marriage Work?
You have no doubt heard the saying, “opposites attract.” That can be a good thing in many instances because being opposites can balance each other out. For example, the extrovert can influence the introvert not to isolate. The introvert may help the extrovert to process decisions instead of reacting.
However, it can be frightening to realize that the person you’re in love with and married to – the person that you want to build a life and a future with- is very different than you. Don’t despair! Some of the strongest marriages are created by two individuals who learn to make personality differences work for them instead of allowing those differences to divide them.
It should be comforting to know that you’re not alone. Approximately 68 percent of perpetual arguments in marriage are due to personality differences, according to Dr. John Gottman, Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman, and Joan DeClaire in their book, Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage. However, this does not mean you will suffer a lifetime of frustration.
How can you navigate your differences and communication challenges to stay connected with your spouse and learn to live in harmony?
Here are some ideas from various relationship specialists.
Don’t try to change the other person.
This is one of a couple’s biggest mistakes, and it never works. Learning to accept your mate as a human being of worth instead of attempting to remake them in your image is the first step to making your relationship satisfying and enjoyable.
Don’t mistake your individual differences for incompatibility.
As was stated earlier, some of the strongest marriages have been built by couples who were very different in their personalities. Yet, they are compatible because they have similar values. This is very important to the health and longevity of a relationship. For a solid and enduring marriage, you must share a core set of family values.
If you want to understand why you and your spouse aren’t able to communicate effectively at times, first learn about your own personality and identify your own tendencies. You may be a planner, while your spouse may be a dreamer. Scheduling and preparing for the unexpected may be of great importance to you. Understand how this could affect your spouse, particularly if they feel judged by you for not calendaring everything, for example. What are the strengths of your personality type, communication style, decision-making, etc.? Ideally, you both would do this and build a foundation of understanding, love, and respect.
Communicate Your Needs.
Once you understand more of your personality, you can explain your needs and thought processes to your spouse. Please don’t complain about how they may not have met these needs in the past. This could be the opportunity to communicate honestly about what happened in the past but keep it forward-focused and positive.
Seek to understand your spouse and learn how to meet their needs.
As you communicate your needs to your spouse, remember that they have unique needs. Be sure to affirm your love for one another during this process.
Find Common Ground.
Define those core values you agree upon, particularly those related to marriage and family. Focus on and cultivate the areas that you believe the same way about. This is one of the reasons that spiritual values are important because they transcend personality and personal preferences.
Recognize the value of your mate and their personality.
It could undoubtedly become boring if you and your mate had the same personality and views on everything, etc. As someone once said, “If we were the same, one of us wouldn’t be necessary.” Your differences add color and dimension to your relationship if you value your mate and honor who they are instead of insisting they become like you or adopt your views on everything.
Engage in interesting and provocative conversations.
In which areas do you have differences of opinion – finance, household chores, politics, history, feminism, etc.? If you respect one another and do not argue or judge the other, you can have some great conversations. You never stop changing, and that includes your perceptions and opinions. So, even if you have been married for a decade or more, you can still learn about each other and be surprised by one another.
Keep learning from each other.
Ask yourself, “What can I learn from my partner? What do they do better than me that they could teach me?” You may ask them if they would be willing to help you learn, or you could learn through conversation, or it may be a skill that you can learn simply by observing them and emulating their behavior. Your love and respect for one another can grow as you learn from each other.
Don’t stop communicating.
Communicate, communicate, and communicate some more. You cannot overcommunicate. Too often, when couples have differences, they stop communicating and withdraw. They then begin to make assumptions about their spouse’s motives or intentions. These assumptions are almost always negative, and so the division grows. It is vitally important that you keep talking and that you hear each other’s hearts through your words.
Enjoy separate interests or activities without guilt.
Of course, it is best to have activities you both enjoy, and you should do your best to discover what those are. However, it is certainly okay for each of you to have hobbies or interests that you enjoy that your spouse is not interested in. For example, one of you is a movie buff, and the other likes to read. One of you loves to fish, and the other is into photography. You don’t have to do everything together or enjoy the same activities to have a healthy marriage. Recounting stories or experiences you have had while apart can strengthen your bond and make you more exciting and attractive to each other.
Strike a balance.
Meet each other halfway. Learn to compromise so that you each voluntarily give up something. Go for the “win-win.” In a relationship, if one of you loses, you both lose. Most people are willing to adjust and compromise for someone who loves and accepts them.
If you acknowledge, embrace, and respect your uniqueness and your partner’s, you can create a strong foundation for your marriage. You will be able and willing to make adjustments, sacrifices, and compromises and create a mutually satisfying marriage.
If you want to discuss how we can help you and your relationship, please get in touch with me at Cliff@LoveRecon.org or call 866-218-1716. You may also visit our website, www.LoveRecon.org, for testimonials and information.