Relationship Counseling Tip: Have admiration for the relational differences…It’d be boring without them!
“I believe that we are here for each other, not against each other. Everything comes from an understanding that you are a gift in my life – whoever you are, whatever our differences.” ~ John Denver
It’s a known fact that those relationships which resist change often become stagnant and lose the passion and fire that was so much of the attraction early on. Without even realizing it, the couple enjoyed the differences early on because the differences were all part of the discovery process: Getting to know, learn and like each other.
Then, something slowly starts to change: Both people start to get pulled into the “same old-same old” pattern. Yes, we humans need a certain amount of predictability and familiarity, but too much of this results in the status quo. This “status quo syndrome” is oftentimes the beginning of a slow, painful slide into stagnation. And stagnation is where there is no passion, no growth and no change.
What’s the antidote? Embrace change and embrace your differences!
This goes way beyond just tolerating differences. This is truly looking for and embracing differences as part of the fundamental core of healthy ongoing relational growth and development.
Imagine if every day, everything you encountered was exactly the same (Remember the movie Groundhog Day?). Yes, it’d be “safe” and predictable, but this would not allow for any growth.
Think of relationships as growing, living organisms that need room to grow and expand. Would you put a hummingbird into a cage? No, of course not. In fact, a hummingbird would die in a very short period of time if it were caged.
Same thing with your relationship. And the easiest way to invite growth and expansion is to look for and celebrate the differences.
Here’s how the conversation between Don and Donna goes:
Don, “Honey, what are you reading?”
Donna, “The History of Man.”
Don, “Really?!! Tell me what drew you to that?”
Donna, “I saw a special on TV about it.”
Don, “Oh…tell me what you’ve enjoyed most so far.”
Donna, “The male and female differences that have been occurring for ages.”
Don, “Wow…sounds interesting. Please keep me informed with what else you discover and learn.”
Donna, “Sure thing.”
Now that may sound rather superficial (and it is somewhat), but the point is to have NO judgment or criticism about what your lover is talking about or referring to. Rather, be interested and curious.
When you release judgment and criticism about differences and keep the focus more on discovering something new and different about each other, you simply add more fuel to the passion-fire of the relationship.
You want to keep the passion alive…keep the fire burning…criticism and judgment simply put the fire out.
“When men and women are able to respect and accept their differences then love has a chance to blossom.” ~John Gray