power struggles Posts

3 Ways to Embrace Your Differences in Relationships

Part of making your relationship work is to be able to embrace your differences. Continuing to try to change your partner or look at their different personality characteristics as flaws will keep you in a power struggle. So how  to change this?

1. Just because you have differences does not mean that you both do not need to be heard. Use your voice to let your partner know how you feel and listen well with understanding to hear what they feel about your challenges together. Use ‘and’ instead of ‘but’ in your conversations together to be inclusive. As you have experienced, there are even differences in the way people naturally communicate in relationships. Make sure you can articulate exactly how your partner thinks and feels about the issues you struggle with. Even if you have argued about the same difference for a long time, check out with them periodically that you still understand where they are at. Continue to have an attitude of curiosity about your partner. Allow the differences to be something quirky  between you instead of a fault. If possible, find some humour in your differences. Wouldn’t that be a change from your current fighting stance?

2.Listen to your partner’s complaints – allow the differences to be there and be open to making compromises in all kinds of ways. Brainstorm moving together on the challenges. If you are great a starting things and your partner cares more about finishing, can someone else help with the finishing? Have a team approach to the challenges. See your strengths and voice each others strengths.Acknowledge the differences and how they need to be dealt with. Don’t bury your head in the sand. If it matters to your partner, it matters. This need not be conflictual – these are most often personality differences.They can also be birth order differences. Look out for these in your relationship, acknowledge them and work within them.

3. Take a personality test together and see your differences on paper. I find when I do this with couples it really helps with understanding and takes some of the power struggle away from between the couple and puts the challenges on the outside of the relationship which helps to move to a team approach. I recommend the Meyers Briggs Personality Inventory.If you are not able to see a professional in your area to do this test, you can do a version of that for free online  at http://www.personalitypathways.com/type_inventory.html which gives you the basics in each type. Or you can contact me and I will send you a list of characteristics and an example of the ways differences in personality characteristics can get in the way of relationships. Click the contact Lynda link.

Remember when you are in a committed relationship with anyone, you have chosen a set of challenges together. Some of these challenges will be resolved fairly easily, others will be resolved over time and some will not be resolved but you will learn to live well around them.