My husband and I are very different. I’m an extrovert; he’s an introvert. I’m decisive and orderly; he just wants to go with the flow. I thrive on change, but he finds it difficult. I’m strongly religious; he’s agnostic.
Despite the differences in our personalities and even the large differences in our foundational belief systems, our marriage is thriving. I think a big part of the strength of any relationship is how well the partners can navigate their differences. No two people are exactly alike, and therefore people will always disagree about some things.
Romantic comedies often make finding love into the search for the right person. But marriage is often more about both partners developing the right attitudes and habits to make it work with the person you’ve got.
Here are three things that have been relationship savers for my husband and me.
- We know each other’s temperaments and preferences. Though it can be easy, and somewhat natural, to assume that everyone else is like ourselves, I try to avoid this type of thinking. For example, I try to remember that while being around lots of people energizes me, it drains my husband. I’ve discovered that my husband feels very loved when I do things for him, just like he does for me. However, he knows I feel most cherished when he sets aside the to-do list to spend one-on-one time with me. By understanding and honoring each other’s needs, we’ve learned to better express our love for each other.
- Showing respect for one another is more important than always agreeing. We’ve probably all had the displeasure of talking with a person who doesn’t seem in the least bit interested in us personally and is only trying to convince us of their opinion. My relationship with my husband would quickly break down if he felt pressured to share all my values and he responded with hostility to them. We talk about all of our beliefs, especially those that are most important to each of us. We would both love it if we agreed, but at least we are connecting by learning to understand why the other person believes the things they do.
- Make the little moments matter. Maybe it’s when I go into the office to tell him about something cute our baby did, or maybe it’s when he wants to show me something funny he saw on the Internet. Whatever the moment is, we try to take advantage of the little opportunities to connect with one another. Even if what we are sharing isn’t that big or important in itself, we’re connecting. All those little moments add up to something big—a happy couple who feels close to one another and deeply loved by one another.
Although it’s not always easy being married to someone who seems so radically different than me, we share a common commitment to our marriage.
My husband and I do our best to understand and respect what makes each of us unique. We take the time to learn about each other’s personalities, beliefs, and the special moments that make up our day. Our connection is formed by striving to understand and to be understood.