Relationship Tip: How to Handle Different Situations in a Successful Relationship?

Noemi J. Mullins

Elizabeth Bernstein, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, writes about the challenges of marriage between a planner and a spontaneous partner. Maybe you have known someone in such a marriage. Many a planner will refer to their spouse’s spouse as passive-aggressive. Others may call their spouse a control freak.

Attractive people attract. After the honeymoon ends, it is easy to feel guilty about judging our spouse. The truth is, each person has their strengths and weaknesses and gifts and pitfalls. We can learn a lot from one another if we want.

Successful Relationships Respect Differences

Relationships are not about the differences between spouses but how we react to them.

It is up to us to decide whether we see our differences as a challenge or an opportunity for growth. This will determine how a couple learns to value one another, their relationship and their closeness more than their differences.

Are you a planner? You may be a planner with excellent time management and planning skills. Perhaps you are goal-oriented. You are a doer, and you know how to make things happen. And you always arrive on time. You might also struggle with adapting to change and relaxation.

Do you prefer to just “wing it?” You are probably good at being and following the flow to seize opportunities. You are a risk-taker and open to new experiences. This makes you a great adventurer. It’s not easy to keep to a schedule or get things done.

Planners, be honest: Were you attracted by your partner’s spontaneity, or were you more structured? Risk-taking? Do you have a sense of adventure? You spontaneity junkies, didn’t your partner admire you for being organized and capable of getting so much done?

What happened then?

Couples often look to one another to fill in the gaps and then lean onto each other instead of being proud of their individuality. We may start to resent those things that first attracted us together. A planner maybe someone who is eloquent and goes with the flow. They might feel trapped and restricted by a schedule and feel like they are being held back. The planner might find the partner’s inability to plan extremely uncomfortable.

Relationship conflict: Don’t fall for the trap of making your partner wrong

We can fall into the trap of using our differences to make our partner wrong. This only leads to friction, distance and constant conflicts that cause marital discord. We judge our partner’s differences.

Wait, isn’t it a great opportunity to exchange our unique gifts and qualities?

We want to build a healthy relationship where each person is encouraged by their differences to be better. Our differences can be used as a springboard to see the world differently, learn new skills, and have a lot of fun together.

How to make a relationship work, even with differences?

TIP 1: Be curious.

It is easy to turn frustration into understanding when we become curious about our partner’s values and behaviour. If your partner is a planner, discover why having a plan is important to them. If you are spontaneous, discover ways to keep your spontaneity and plan.

TIP 2: Keep in mind the specific ways that your partner’s traits can help strengthen your relationship.

It is possible to shift negative emotions into appreciation by focusing briefly on their quality rather than the frustration. When we can see the bigger picture, we realize that they don’t want to make our lives difficult! Their perspective of the world is a new one for us!

TIP 3: Make time for quality and togetherness

We can become too busy with our lives and only communicate the necessary details or logistics to make it work. Stress makes differences even more difficult to see the bigger picture. You may be grumbling about your partner if you haven’t shared a lot of fun in recent times. As a couple, make sure you have time for fun and relaxation. Find things you enjoy together. Do more things that bring you closer together.

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