When we appreciate the value of our differences, we begin to see them not as a threat, but an enhancement to our relationship. We may even see that it was the differences themselves that initially attracted us to each other in the first place.
One of the keys to happy, healthy relationships is accepting and appreciating difference, yet, it is one of the hardest things for humans to do. No wonder so many of us find relationships difficult. Accepting differences is doable if you keep the following guidelines in mind.
It's true that old habits can be difficult to break, but even the most entrenched patterns are breakable, if there is a strong intention and powerful commitment to do so. So, hang in there, and get to work!
One of the pleasures of having lived for several decades is that old friends drop by now and again. In an email sent to a few friends and colleagues, Stuart Kauffman passed along a piece he and his co-authors have written for the United Nations about the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.
With the exception of royalty, spelling and humour (humor), most Brits and Americans like to think of their countries as culturally rather similar. You would be forgiven for thinking this is most obvious in the globalized world of business.
The ability to recognize the positive contribution that one's partner makes to the needs of the relationship, rather than holding the perspective that they are the cause of the "problem" is the core variable that determines whether the couple is headed for disaster or for mutual fulfillment.
Differences can be used as a means of creating greater awareness, appreciation and understanding of each other's unique perspectives. It is, after all, our differences more than our similarities that attracted us to each other in the first place.
You, the faceless one, who hides behind empty words. You, the unhappy one, spreading your misery through harassment and humiliation. You, the angry one, trying to feel powerful by intimidating others with your hate. I refuse to let you hurt me.
It's not just the exposure of our partner's imperfections that we need all that patience to accept and live with, it's the exposure of our own imperfect aspects that get illuminated in reaction to them that leave us shame-faced and embarrassed.
The next best thing to preventing conflict is having the skills to manage differences effectively. Most of us don't come into marriage with highly developed conflict-management skills, but these abilities can be cultivated through practice on the job.