No two people are the same, it’s natural to have differences. The same rule is applicable to a relationship. Our partners will never be our mirror image. It’s wrong to expect only similarities and loathe the differences. It’s not about ‘Do Opposites Attract or Does Like Attract’, it’s about the compatibility. In any relationship what works is, successfully managing these differences both as individuals and as a couple. Compatibility hence is crucial for any relationship but don’t mistake compatibility for similarity, it is more about bringing out the best in each other despite the differences. Compatibility is not something which you always have sometimes you have to make it. As Alain De Botton stated, “compatibility is an achievement of love; it should not be its precondition.”
Differences are not always menacing, if managed well, these can assist in the growth of a relationship. Couples who master the art of redirecting their differences to their strength cut the risk of unnecessary stress in their relationship. According to clinical psychologist Michael Broder, “Successful couples know how to use their opposite traits to their mutual advantage, if each partner can honour the other for what he or she does best, then between the two of them, they can do a lot more together.” I agree it’s difficult but I promise it’s worth it.
To achieve this:
1. IDENTIFY THE DEGREE & TYPE OF DIFFERENCE:
“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognise, accept, and celebrate those differences.”- Audre Lorde
There can be many differences, such as; personality differences, cross-cultural differences, lifestyle differences, or religious&cultural differences, etc. It’s important to recognise the nature of these differences and acknowledge them. Assess how strongly those differences of opinion can affect your relationship, for say if your partner is not on the same page with you regarding commitment, cheating or family values it might adversely impact your bond. Analyse the level of importance of the issue at hand. Most important is to understand that conflict is different from Abuse.
Though there is no absolute way to analyse whether these differences are workable or not.
2.HOW YOU MANAGE DIFFERENCES: As someone has just rightly said:-
“The happiest couples never have the same character. They have the best understanding of their differences.”
(A) Effective communication:
Talk about differences and expectations. Be an attentive listener. Understand and value each other’s perspective. Focus on resolving issues rather than winning arguments. Keep your opinion free from assumptions and prejudices.
(B) Acceptance & Compromise:
Don’t push your partner to change. Look at these differences, as a chance to learn and teach others. Help your partner to be unapologetically themselves. Twisting and breaking them to fit into your mould is bad. Learn to compromise and sacrifice to manage expectations. Try not to be judgemental. Be ready to offer help in difficult situations.
(C) Be respectful:
As you value your opinion, similarly you should honour your partner’s view too. Learn the art of agreeing to disagree. We can’t always reject or accept a difference, then what? there we should learn to be calm and focused on finding the solution and taking care of not hurting the sentiments of our partner.
(D) Constructive criticism:
personal attacks are a strict no. You can express your dissent. If you don’t approve of a certain action or opinion, you can criticise that but criticising your partner’s personality and beliefs in whole are wrong. Likewise, be open to constructive criticism yourself too. Build up your relation and you can not do that by tearing down each other.
(E) Making Relationship your first priority:
There might be some fundamental differences too but always remember you should have one common ground to hold on to. For a long-term committed relationship, we have to learn these qualities to manage conflicts. Both the partners should take responsibility for the relationship. It should not be about blaming each other but building the bond.
(F) Find Common Interests:
Take interest in each other’s hobbies and passions. Find something which is of interest for both the partners, be it arts, sports or anything. Find time for each other from your tight schedule. Celebrate each other’s success. Explore new interests together.
(G) Bury the hatchet:
“I believe forgiveness is the best form of love in any relationship. It takes a strong person to say they’re sorry and an even stronger person to forgive.”- Yolanda Hadid
Try to leave the past where it belongs. If you can’t resolve any issue learn to let it go but once you have mutually agreed on some differences then don’t bring those in future conflicts.
Last, but not least.
Warning signs to watch out for:
Be aware of your situation. Watch out for those warning signs of a collapsing relationship
- If you are trying too hard
- Only one of the partners is putting all the efforts
- You are being disrespected
- Your partner is abusive
- You no more enjoy each other’s company
- Sexual compatibility issues
- Lack of commitment.
If you witness anything serious like addiction, infidelity or psychological issues with your partner, you might need an expert advice to address these issues accordingly. Have the courage to walk away from toxic relationships. Remember
“Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.”