ARE YOU GETTING THE LOVE YOU WANT?
"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
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.