Have you ever noticed that in couples one partner is often very different from the other? Why is that? Maybe we’re attracted to aspects of the other person that we don’t possess ourselves. Or maybe we’re trying to fill a void or need that was never met from our past. Sometimes we are drawn to a person because their personality type is familiar and reminds us of our mother or father. We may get comfort and security from being with a person like the one we grew up with even if that personality type is negative or unhealthy. Many of these choices and decisions occur at the unconscious level and are emotionally driven, not logical or rational.
As a result of the above issues it is not uncommon for pursuers to end up in a relationship with avoiders. Just like introverts might marry extroverts or passive people may choose aggressive partners. We want what we don’t have or what we sought early on in our lives. We’re looking to balance our lives in our relationship and seek a person that compliments our own traits. Or we’re looking for someone who can assume tasks that we’re not good at and enable us to not change. The bottom line is that opposites do attract, but sometimes what once was appealing becomes appalling. For example, when we first met our partner maybe we were looking for a take-charge person but over time that same trait is perceived as controlling and becomes frustrating.
So now that we are in a relationship with someone who is very different from us, what do we do to get along? The first step is to identify your differences and accept that neither person has the perfect personality type. Ideally we work at moving closer to the middle which requires compromise and respect for the other person’s position. We need to remind ourselves that we are a team and that relationships call for both give and take. Think about what initially attracted you to in your partner and value your differences. Sometimes reframing the relationship differences as an opportunity to grow and change can also provide greater acceptance and appreciation for each other. Lastly, understand the origin of your partner’s traits and needs which can make it easier to have compassion for who they are and why they behave the way they do. As Proverbs 27:17 says, as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Learn, grow, and challenge yourself as a result of your relationship differences.