Barbara L. Green, LCSW




"Just because you are dating a Republican doesn't mean you have to be one."  This was Mrs. N's response to me when, at the age of 21, I was complaining about some of the differences between my boyfriend and myself.  Mr. and Mrs. N were my best friend's parents.  They had a loving marriage that included warmth, respect and playfulness.  When I was very young I thought the secret to their relationship success was that they agreed on everything... Mrs. N's statement made me realize I still had much to learn.

Current research on marriage indicates that only about 1/3 of conflicts between couples can be fully resolved.  A hallmark of happily married couples is not that they have less conflict, but that they are more skilled at managing the conflict they do have.

Keep in mind:

1.  We are attracted to someone who is different than us... then we marry and try to get them to become just like us.  To love another there must be an "other".  If we finally are successful in getting our partner to experience everything just as we do... are we then in love with our partner or ourself?

2.  Your partner came into adulthood with a different history and biology than yours... therefore it should not be that suprising that your partner's feelings, thoughts and reactions will be different than yours.

3.  How problematic the differences between partners are depends in large part to the meaning you assign to the differences.


Review a repetitive conflict that you have (e.g. One of you is more extroverted and enjoys socializing, the other is more introverted and prefers more quiet time).  Have the conflict again, but this time switch roles.  Play your partner's role as accurately as you can... try to use the experience to become more empathic with your partner's experience.