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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

How Differences Can Help Your Relationship

by Susie and Otto Collins

Have you ever wondered why you are in a relationship with someone who
is so different from you?

Most people when they get into relationships have an unspoken and
even unconscious agenda that they want to make the other person just
like them. The thought is--"Everything would be okay if you're just
like me, if you like what I like and if you do things the way I like
them to be done."

It may seem obvious--but we have to say it anyway--no two people
alike. No matter how similar you think you are when you get into a
relationship and how well matched, you are two radically different people.

What we have seen over and over--and we're sure you have too--
opposites do attract.

Many people come into relationship with someone who may appear to be
the same but sooner or later they discover just how different they
are and they end up being irritated about it.

The truth is that we all come into relationships to grow and if we
are with someone who is very different from us, we have the choice as
to how we react to those differences. We can either come from a
place of fear, righteousness and judgment or from a place of love and

What we have discovered is when differences come up, instead of
making that person wrong, you have to embrace the differences between
the two of you and use them to create a better relationship.

Sound impossible? It isn't and here's why.

The two of us have very similar interests and values when it comes to
learning about love, relationships and spirituality. At the very
core of us, there is a strong "glue" that holds us together. We are
also very different people with very different ways of looking at
life. This fact often makes being married business partners a

Through the years, we have learned and are still learning how to use
these differences as growth opportunities.

Here are some tips that we've discovered as we've worked with these
differences daily to create powerfully together instead of being at
odds and critical of one another:

1. Open to possibilities
When you are closed to the ways of other people and only focus on how
you've always done things, there's no growth. Begin by opening to
hearing that someone else may have a different way of doing something
and a different opinion. Being open means breathing, sitting, facing
one another in an open way and making eye contact. Be open to
changing a viewpoint, a way of doing something or even a value if it no longer serves you. It doesn't mean giving up being who you are but it means expanding who you are. Shift into an attitude of wonder.

2. Let go of needing to be right
All of us like to be right but when there are differences, we suggest
you put that "rightness" aside. When we have hung onto being right, it's been helpful for us to go back to the thought--"Will this attitude move me closer to what I want or further away." Since what we want is a closer connection, we usually can let go of being right pretty quickly.

3. Listen without judging
This is a hard one but really necessary. Take turns talking and
don't interrupt each other. Listen to each other and make an attempt
to use "yes and" instead of "but" whenever possible. When you both
feel heard, you will come up with a better solution to your
differences than you could have if you had stayed in your "rightness."

4. Ask "What Can I learn from you?"
This is truly the secret that we've found to dealing with our
differences. Ask yourself "What can I learn from you that will help
me to grow?" and then listen to what comes up inside you.

Shifting your attitude from blame to an openness to learning has
transformed our relationship and we know it can yours too.

This week, whenever you are "hit" with someone's differences, change
the way you normally look at those situations. Shift from annoyance,
anger or judgment to openness, wonder and love. We think you'll see
a positive change in your relationships and life.

Susie and Otto Collins are married, life partners who are Relationship and Life Success Coaches, and authors of several books on relationships,


CupidsReviews Heidi said...

Though opposites do attract I believe that there also has to be a certain level of likeness between the two ladies. I think hat a balance of similarity and opposition are very important. After all you don't want to spend all day questioning each others motives, likes, dislikes and general state of being.

okkult.victim said...

This article is a reply to my prayers, but I have a question. What if people are different in their "cores"? How should they beahave and what do in order to stay together in a relationship?

girl2grl said...

Thanks for the far as being in a relationship where the people are different to their "cores," that is really a question you and your partner need to work out together. As far as what I believe, well, I think there are some things that are important to have in common with your partner... things like the kind of relationship you want (monogamous, open, poly, etc.) and issues like how you deal with finances, children, living situation, etc. So although I do believe having differences can benefit a relationship, there still needs to be some kind of balance to make that relationship last.


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