Central challenges in all close love relationships lie in acknowledging, respecting, and appreciating differences between two people. No matter how similar you may see yourselves to be, chances are that part of the magic you share is an attraction to precisely those differences. Art and Elaine Aron call this attraction “self-expansion theory.” The central notion is that we are drawn to others we admire whose differences complement our own, and this attraction can blossom into love as two people learn and grow from being close to each other.
Nonetheless, the differences that fuel the flames can bring their own demands. This week I ask: What are some of the most common of the salient differences and what are some ways of coping with them?
What are some of the differences between lovers that can challenge us:
How can we deal with these differences?
Make conscious choices. A cornerstone of a close relationship, making conscious choices invites two people to explore what they gain and what they lose in a decision. Although this may sound highly “transactional” and thus out of place in a love relationship based more on “family values” (i.e., the people involved will take care of each other and inevitable inequities are assumed), awareness can permit two people to see each other’s point of view. They can then find creative ways to address a difference. Take turns? Consider external stressors? Examine a core shared value and find a method consistent with it? To me, price and reliability and color matter in a car. David cares about the engine, the design and, yes, the color too but he and I don't always prefer the same color. Should we become a one-car family, we will need to agree on priorities!
Why does accommodating show love?
Have there been times when you gave up something important to you in order to accommodate a want or need of your loved one? How did that feel for you? How did that feel for your loved one? Did your behavior set a precedent – an expectation – that you would always respond in the same way? Could you openly discuss feelings? If you felt disenfranchised, were you then able to get back on the same team?
Copyright 2017 Roni Beth Tower
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