I was raised in a home that didn’t have healthy examples of what love should look like. So throughout most of my life and marriage, my husband and I have been sketching out our love trying to help each other navigate our story.
In those uncharted waters, my husband and I started to notice that we were very different.
For example, I am not a big picture thinker. I often lack common sense. I wear my heart on my sleeve and tend to act on a whim.
He is a big picture thinker who likes to plan ahead. He has a temper and doesn’t tolerate crap. And, honestly, my husband isn’t nearly as sensitive as I am, so my female brain sometimes befuddles and frustrates him.
At first these differences scared me because in my mind and experience, differences caused arguments. Differences made it more difficult to understand each other. Differences lead to the dreaded D. Or so I thought.
But as time went on, I learned that differences in relationships are not only normal, they actually can be a good thing.
Like when I wanted a $200 pair of glasses, and he reminded me it wasn’t in our budget.
Or when I tried to discipline our son in a nurturing way that ended up confusing him even more.
My way of discipline backfired, and frankly I should have known that my husband knew how to talk to a 7-year old-boy better than I did.
So do we have arguments? Absolutely! But it takes time to figure out all the kinks in a relationship. But here are some ways that have helped us come to deal with our differences—and even appreciate them.
1) Communicate differences. Not always right away though. Sometimes this involves taking a deep breath, or even taking a step back—but eventually coming back together to see the different sides of the story.
2) Find common ground. Once you have communicated differences, you can see that the other person probably was coming from a place of emotion that needs to be addressed, comforted, or validated before the problem can be resolved.
3) Agree to disagree. Sometimes you will never see eye to eye. Each person has their own life experiences and reasons for their actions. So if the issue is not going to cause serious harm and you don’t think either of you will get anywhere, just move on. Say that you love them and that you want to make choices that honor the other person. But sometimes it’s just easier to agree to disagree.
4) Remember why you fell in love in the first place. This was key for my husband and me: Why are you with this person? What is it—or what was it—about them that mesmerizes you and makes your heart skip a beat? Think about that. Smile. Realize how fortunate you are to have each other in this crazy big world to begin with.
5) Move forward. Kiss and make up. Don’t dwell on things more than necessary.
I have learned through all of this that it doesn’t do a relationship any good to dwell on mistakes made—like a bad $200 purchase. But life is full of mistakes and my husband and I are learning how to do life together. We love each other despite our mistakes and have realized that can only make us stronger.