Be the change you wish to see in the world...

- Gandhi

Friday, August 23, 2013

Appreciating Differences to Build a Stronger Marriage

In our twenty plus years together, my husband and I have usually been on the same page for most things.  From raising our kids Jewish (though I wasn't Jewish when I married him), to building a home (we never argued once about the construction or finances of it all), to where we want to go on vacation (Hawaii wins every year), we are fortunate that we are in sync, and are able to navigate most of our lives' decisions without much debate.

That is, until recently.  It is not that we never have had different points of view on a topic, nor different opinions on a matter.  It is just that despite those differences, we always seemed to end up on the same page...and for the most part, it was effortless.

I had been frustrated lately, uncomfortable with the reality that we weren't agreeing on much.  I worried what that meant for our marriage, and what it was saying about us as individuals.  Had we changed into different people over the years?  Did we want different things?  I was surprised that he could not see something from my point of view (and vice versa) when we normally did so with ease.  I was also saddened that we weren't seeing eye to eye on things that I thought should be no brainers.

Then, I had a realization: This friction was a gift - an opportunity to recognize growth in our relationship by appreciating the different perspectives that each of us, as partners, brings to the table.  We have been together twenty years.  Of course, we have changed since we first met, and then changed again since we married, and then changed yet again since having kids.  We have each had individual experiences that have shaped us into who we are today, and continue to do so every day.  In fact, it is those experiences that have kept us interesting to the other person after all these years!  And although, these differences were manifesting themselves in larger ways than we had previously experienced, it didn't mean that it had to cause us strife.

This gift - these different perspectives were really opportunities that the other partner wasn't thinking of - and we should all be so lucky to presented with as many opportunities in our lives as possible.  When I thought of it that way, I was almost giddy.  Perspective, my friends.  It has helped me sync to a new page where I longer experience discomfort when friction occurs between me and my husband, but instead, causes me to pause and appreciate the missed opportunity I didn't see or recognize that my husband is trying to share with me.  Instead of fighting to get each other to adopt "our" way, we can try to appreciate our differences on the subject, find the benefits from each side.  It has brought us into a new stride, that is making us better as a team.

I share this vulnerability, (not an easy thing to do for a good lifer like me), in order to encourage us to view bumps in the road as chances to slow down, look around, and change perspective.  When we do so, it opens us up to an array of opportunities that we never saw coming.