We are all so different. We each have different personalities, expectations, and needs, yet we find ourselves in relationship with someone who has a divergent focus. Why are we drawn to someone different from ourselves? I believe we are attracted to aspects of our personality that we don’t possess. In essence, we’re looking to fill our gaps/weak points through our partner and complement our position by finding someone who can assume roles we’re not good at. For example, if one person in the relationship lacks social skills, then the other person may take responsibility for developing and maintaining the couple’s friendships. This is not necessarily a bad thing-we can’t be good at everything-but when there is a clear imbalance and total reliance on the other person, problems can arise.
The last two weeks I described the attributes of “achievers” and “connectors” in relationships. These different attributes may cause misunderstanding in the relationship and over time may cause resentment. Both parties may feel that they are carrying the ball by themselves with certain activities. All marriages have differences which can lead to frustration and anger; the problems arise when the partners either ignore the conflicts or attack each other. Conflict that is not resolved or managed will result in deepening resentment and hurt which is often followed by detachment. The good news is that achievers and connectors can be successful in their relationships.
The first step is awareness,that is, recognition by both partners that a problem exists. Next comes an understanding of each others’ differences and a willingness to address the issues. Gaining an appreciation and respect for your differences can help with the process of change. Next comes working through the steps of conflict resolution: identification, expression, validation, brainstorming, negotiation, compromise, and implementation. Individually working on taking responsibility for your own shortcomings instead of relying exclusively on your partner can prove beneficial. Lastly, recognize that both achievers and connectors typically have good intentions for their relationship but are unaware of how to achieve them together. Practice over this next week engaging in a behavior that your spouse normally tackles and if your spouse also does this exercise reinforce them for stepping out of the box to do things differently. The achiever might consider initiating a date, while the connector may limit their social media time as an example. Find ways to be connected that suits both parties.