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Personality Differences - 2 Tips for Digging Your Differences

Dec 17, 2021

Marriages are a mix of personalities.  When it's just 2 people, it doesn't feel like this mix should be as varied or as difficult as it is.  When we first meet our spouse, we are typically attracted to our differences.  Our deep desire for connection allows us to find value in differences, misrepresent them, or flat out overlook them.  Then when you add enough similarities or shared interests, we fall hard.  We decide that this is our person.

Not long after we make a commitment for life, the many things we have been putting up with or straight up ignoring begin to grind on us.  Sometimes I say it as plain as this, "The things that drew us to our partner, the things that made them interesting, exciting, and attractive, are the very things that drive us crazy just a few years into marriage."  Unfortunately, there's no going back so the big question is, How do we see our differences as interesting, exciting, and attractive again?

We have a mini-course that focuses specifically on identifying and discussing your personality differences, and we have a blog that lays out some of these differences more in depth to which this is a follow up.

The purpose of today's blog is to give you 2 quick tips for digging your differences rather than trying to ditch them.

I don't want to make this sound simple or easier, but I do want to give you a simple 2-word dichotomy that can take you back to those moments when you fell hard for each others quirks...It is as simple as Connections & Curiosities.

 CONNECTIONS

I think we can all admit that humans are weird creatures.  We don't have time to get into the litany of reasons, but one such idiosyncrasy of human beings is our desire to connect with others like us.  We put stickers on cars to display to the world what our preferences are advertising for brands from which we make no money but take great pride in our loyalty to such products.  And then as if proudly displaying our affinity for a certain brand of cooler, sunglasses, outerwear, or specific city we have visited, we take it a step further. We feel warm to other individuals who also proudly display their brand loyalty, individuals with whom we have never had a conversation, observed behavior, or even seen in person and immediately conclude, "these are my people."

In marriage, it seems to play out much the same way.  When dating and eventually evaluating whether or not this 1 individual is our person forever, we collect a list of things upon which we share connections.  things like sports fandom, taste in music, weekend activities, friend groups, and favorite foods stack up into a compelling argument that we can't wait to spend the rest of our lives watching our team, listening to our songs, recreating the way we want, etc.

But...then we move in together, we depart every morning for work and return home each day to a house where we have different preferences for what's for dinner, how to load the dishwasher, and who makes the plans (if any) for the weekend.  It seems out differences start to outweigh our shared interests, and over time, we share less and less connections.  In our experience, this is not hypothetical.  Many couples who we sit with to discuss tough spots in their relationship have stopped having fun together and have shifted their lens to almost entirely overlooking the connections they still have.

Thus, our first tip, a simple prescription for navigating our differences is to be intentional about our CONNECTIONS.  At one point in our relationships, connections were all we saw and we loved them.  Our love for the same music was going to last a lifetime, and we could not be convinced otherwise. 

  • When was the last time you put on a playlist equivalent to the burnt cd you stayed up all night curating? 
  • When was the last time you broke out a board game you used to play while losing track of time on a "school night?" 
  • When was the last time you looked across the room and saw your spouse for all the things that drew you to them and nothing else?

In the next 2 weeks, be sure to focus on your connections even if they are as trivial as a shared love for a brand, artist, or genre of movies.  While we have plenty of differences, we typically have plenty of connections we are overlooking or have allowed life to move us away from.

 

CURIOSITIES

I know what you're thinking, "that all sounds nice, but we are SOOOO different."  I want to say it again, that I am in no way trying to minimize the difficulty surrounding our differences.  Whether it be differences around our preference for amount of people in our lives, our value for completing tasks, our attention detail to (or lack of), our pace of life, how we make decisions, or our worldview; it is hard to be on different pages.

As discussed above, we humans are wired for connection, but we are also intrigued by new things.  We can spend hours watching YouTube video after YouTube video learning how to fix a household appliance, we can scroll TikTok endlessly to learn something new (even if its the latest 10 sec dance video trend), we search 8 different websites to get the best deal on a flight or hotel, and we invest a significant amount of brainpower sorting through a minimum 30 reviews on any given Amazon product before making a purchase.  We invest in things that we find interesting.

The problem we encounter in many marriages is that  we no longer find our spouses interesting.  We would rather spend time holding doing just about anything else, than studying, learning, adjusting to our spouses preferences.  What was once effortless has now become at best, cumbersome and at worst, impossible.

Might I remind you that some of these differences have always been a part of our relationship, we just used to be better at overlooking them or finding them more interesting than we do now.  Other things have caught our eye and other things get the most of our attention, while our spouse often gets something unbecoming.  NOTE: if you find yourself reading this and feeling vindicated because he or she doesn't give you the time of day or extend you the grace you feel you deserve...there is a very high likelihood that your better half is feeling the same way.

With that, I will provide you the 2nd of just 2 tips on not only navigating your differences, but learning to love them.  CURIOSITIES are the secret weapon that can turn any opposing view, disagreement, or quirk into something we revel in.  The nice things about leaning into your curiosity is that you don't have to agree, you don't have to change who you are, and your partner doesn't necessarily have to change.  Curiosity isn't the end all be all in navigating your differences, but it is a default setting that preceeds healthy conclusions, new perspectives, and more neutral conversations on tough topics.

  • When was the last time you wondered what things stress your spouse out and may contribute to their short fuse or distant gaze?
  • When was the last time you resisted the urge to correct or fix your spouse and ask questions instead?
  • When was the last time you adjusted your preferences to show your spouse that you value them over yourself?

In the next 2 weeks, resist the urge to conclude that your differences are a problem and be more curious.  Ask additional questions as if you would someone you were meeting for the first time, try to learn something new like you would for a household project, and consider collecting a review from your spouse on ways that you could better love them or meet their needs.

 


These 2 tips are something you can control and implement as early as today.  However, sometimes we need a little help hearing each other, seeing each other, and getting back on the same page.  Consider giving your marriage the gift of more connection and more curiosity by jumping into one of our self-led video coaching programs. Its a quick and easy way to connect on a regular basis from the comfort of your own home on your own schedule.

If you are preparing for marriage or newly married, try our Marriage Prep program to open your relationship up in ways you may not be able to on your own, and learn ways to stay connected as differences become less endearing over time.

If you have been married for 7-25 years, check out our Marriage Refresh program to find new ways to connect and be guided through some questions that you probably haven't asked in a long time.

We wish you the best in your quest to have the most meaningful marriage.

 

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