Differences are a reality in every relationship. It doesn’t matter whether a couple came from the same isolated village or from opposite sides of the world. The determining factor in the health of the relationship is not whether the individuals have enough “sameness” to make each other happy. What’s more important is the approach the couple choose to adopt regarding their similarities and differences.
Couples have a choice between viewing their relationship as a competition or as complimentary. I think it is helpful to look at marriage as a tennis match. In a singles match, couples are forced onto opposite sides of the net and faced with opposing each other. Under these circumstances of competition there is a winner and a loser. This is dangerous in relationships and often results in a lot of pride, hurt, isolation, and pain.
The other option is to treat marriage like a doubles match in which the couple work together against the challenges. In this case, if one loses, so does the other partner, but when one wins, so does the other partner.
In marriage, like in tennis, the partners will inevitably have different strengths and weaknesses. One of the challenges of marriage is to choose to view those differences as a strength. As each partner offers differences, they compliment one another by doing what they are better at, and allowing their partner to fill in their “gaps.” This approach helps couples feel supported, relaxed, safe, and more fulfilled.
Kevin-Joel is a husband, father, brother, son, cyclist, part time gardener, and therapist. He enjoys helping people succeed in life.