In the initial stages of a relationship, your partner’s differences may feel refreshing and exciting. But over time, these differences can clash and build resentment. Are you in a situation where you love your partner but find it difficult to accommodate both of your personalities in your relationship? In this article, I’m going to tell you about some of the most common differences that couples face, and how to make space for these differences in your relationship. Read on!
To Talk or Not To Talk
A partnership between an introvert and extrovert could be fun at first: the quiet one relies on their partner to make conversation and the talkative partner always has someone who listens to them. But over time, the introvert may get tired of their partner’s constant socialising. The extrovert may resent their partner’s lack of enthusiasm for social events.
In such relationships, it is important to understand what introversion and extroversion really means. An extrovert is energized by social interaction, while an introvert may be drained by social interaction beyond a point. You and your partner are wired differently, and draw energy from different things. Honor this. Make a list of which activities are energizing for both of you, and spend more time on these.
It’s also okay to do things separately in a relationship: the extrovert could meet their friends while the introvert catches up on a movie at home. Understand your needs, boundaries and energies, and let your relationship reflect this understanding!
To Change or Not To Change
Are you in a partnership where one of you loves and embraces change, while the other is wary of it? Initially, the spontaneity may have excited the change-averse partner, whose stability in turn felt grounding and comforting to the change-seeking partner.
While these partners can balance each other, their different approaches to change may become challenging. It may be tempting to want to change how your partner reacts to change. But this will only build resentment: instead, understand that your partner’s attitude to change is part of who they are.
Write down all the times when your partner’s response to change was actually good for you and your relationship. Whenever a major change occurs, don’t simply run away from it/ run into it. Instead, acknowledge the change first and discuss it. Then, collaborate with your partner to reach a solution that benefits both of you and is empathetic to both your differences.
The Messy One And The Neat One
Maybe your partner color coordinates their wardrobe, while you dump your clothes into an ever growing heap on a chair. Why did you leave your socks out? It was your turn to do the dishes today! These questions can quickly escalate into fights.
In a partnership like this, avoid ‘winging-it’ when it comes to house-keeping roles. Come up with a weekly plan on who cooks, cleans, mops and takes out the trash. Both partners could also compromise: the clean one may need to let go of their strict perfectionism, while the messy one may have to take more responsibility. You could also divide roles in ways that benefit both your personalities!
The impulsive one could be in-charge of experimenting in the kitchen, while the other does more of the arranging and organising. Whatever happens, make sure that you divide housekeeping roles in a way that is equal and fair so that no one feels resentful.
The Pleaser & The Straight-Forward One
Different people respond to conflict differently. While some dive straight into a conflict, no filter to their words, others shy away from it and sugarcoat things to please people. If you and your partner are on these different ends, you need to work on conflict resolution.
People-pleasers usually struggle with expressing their emotions. They need to let their partner know what makes them feel comfortable and safe enough to express their feelings. The more assertive partner may want to take a step back: think carefully before responding in anger. Their stubborn nature could result in them saying things they regret, which could make the pleaser retreat further.
If there is a conflict, work on expressing discontent at your partner’s actions and not their personality. Both partners will benefit from learning how to express their emotions healthily, and also listening more attentively.
The Breeze & The Storm
Maybe you are as cool as cucumber, while your partner has a bit of a temper. This can make it quite challenging to deal with stress or conflict. It may be important for the calmer one to coax their partner out of turmoil in times of stress. The more hot-headed person needs to think of how else to support their partner when the going is rough: you may not be able to bring poise, but you could be resourceful, supportive or motivating.
Think of your relationship as having a delicate balance, instead of a difficult difference. Talk about your emotional responses to life, and try to understand where your partner is coming from in times of conflict. You don’t need to change each other: you can help each other become better versions of yourself.
In Conclusion: Be A Team
All couples will face differences in personality. What matters is how you navigate these differences. Remember to be a team: you are different people, but you are not against each other. You are understanding and refining your differences together.
Communication is the best way to turn your differences into unique skills that build your relationship instead of breaking it down. Do your best to understand each other, and why both of you are different. Be proactive in talking about the differences and how you can manage them.
And even when times are tough, remember why both of you fell in love and don’t lose sight of things you adore in your partner. Reflect on yourself from time to time and work on the parts of yourself that need improving. And finally, invest in yourself, in your partner and in your differences with compassion: so that your relationship can not just stay afloat, but actually thrive.