Part of fighting fair and with respect is also knowing when you need to agree to disagree. Some disagreements will not have a solution, mainly due to you and your partner being two individual people and having your own beliefs. Know that this is okay and totally normal!!
It is impossible and unhealthy to expect your partner to agree with everything you agree with and to be just like you. Plus, that would be quite boring, if your partner is a replica of you. The key here, is to know how to respect each other’s differences, embrace and accept these differences, as opposed to constantly trying to prove each other wrong or being mean.
So, what can you do when there are differences in your relationship?
Well, it involves a lot of self-control and an open-mind.
When there are differences that you are passionate about or that cause a bit of discomfort, your body will naturally react, and you may experience some anxiety and stress. You may even experience some other triggers and your mind may be flooded with some unwanted thoughts (i.e. “what if this ends our relationship,” or “is this going to work out”).
How to have an open-mind:
- Bite your tongue when you want to interrupt your partner
- Deep breathe when you feel uncomfortable
Disclaimer: If the differences involve safety or a value that you absolutely cannot live without, you may need to consider the ending the relationship. For example, abuse is never okay, and you should seek some help on how to end the relationship safely. Another example may be religion. If you are passionate about your faith and find that you want to live your life by practicing a specific faith and your partner does not respect this decision, it may be good to question ending the relationship.
Things to not do if there are differences:
- Make fun of your partner for his or her belief
- Put your partner down or his or her family for having a specific belief
- Name calling
Things you can do or say when there are differences:
- Validate each other: “I can see your point”
- “We see things differently”
- “I see that this is important to you, can you share with me why?” (a response of “because it is” is not enough. Share with your partner where you are coming.)
- “At what point in your life did this become important for you?”
- Ask yourself if it will be beneficial for your relationship to make room for compromise.
- Ask yourself if this is important to support your partner and how it may change your relationship years down the road.
Again, having an open-mind is key and this is an opportunity to enlighten yourself about your partner, not a time to prove him or her wrong.
When couples can do this and learn about each other, the difference that was causing the tension or argument is not so scary anymore. This doesn’t mean that the tension or anxiety revolving around it will 100% disappear, but at least you are no longer tip-toeing around it and you understand your partner’s perception. This in turn leads to a higher level of intimacy and trust!
If you have found that handling differences in your relationship to be difficult, feel free to contact me and schedule your initial session. It is common to feel unheard and feel that your differences will always haunt your relationship, but it does not have to be that way! It is possible for couples to learn about each other and to find ways to be kind towards each other when it comes to differences. Take the step to invest in your relationship!
If couples therapy is not what you are looking for but still want to make a difference in your relationship, I encourage you to take an online relationship class or participate in an upcoming couples workshop.
I specialize in working with couples and individuals to restore their relationships by utilizing research-based therapy techniques. Feel free to look at the online services offered through Modern Wellness Counseling and check out the client portal to conveniently schedule your next appointment.