Are You and Your Partner too Different for a Relationship?
by Jacquie Wise
How do you deal with a partner who is very different from you? For example, my partner likes spending and I believe in saving. He needs routine and I prefer flexibility. He’s also tied to his family and I’m more independent.
I love him to bits but we have a lot of arguments about the littlest things. Is there any way we can handle our arguments better?
It seems to me that the source of the arguments is a more important issue to deal with than the arguments themselves, so I’ll answer you in this context.
They say opposites attract but there are questions that you can ask at the beginning of a relationship. True, opposites do attract, but unless we have some common ground in basic needs and values, we’re going to clash. You say you love this man. Good. That, presumably, is the heart talking. (Or is your attraction to him only physical?)
It may be time to listen to your head to bring in some balance. Only then will you be able to decide if it’s possible to improve the harmony between you. Or you may find that you are indeed too different to share a life. You can’t change someone—you can only make them want to change by showing them benefits they value.
Listening to your head will enable you to ensure you’re not staying in this relationship for the wrong reasons, such as insecurity or competing with your friends.
So when your heart and body are speaking the loudest, how do you listen to your head when evaluating a relationship?
Begin by remembering what attracted you to him in the first place. List all the good things you can think of about your partner. Are these aspects still there?
Next, list the things about him that grate on you. Separate them in as many small details possible. If there are a lot of grates, it’s what I call the cheese-grater effect: it continually rubs you up the wrong way and in the end, there’s no cheese left.
Sometimes, your ‘good and bad’ lists will come out equal. In that case, give each item a rating from 1 (low importance) to 10 (I can’t stand this).
It’s not a bad idea to get him to do the same, or do it for him and check with him how right you are about the things you think he likes about you and what you do that grates on him!
You may decide that the plusses far outweigh whatever minuses you’ve listed. Or you may find that this relationship is not worth all the angst. But before you give up on a relationship, you need to take some responsibility for fixing any problems.
No relationship is absolutely perfect.
It’s how we work together on the bits that aren’t perfect that makes it good or bad.
Your lists will show you exactly what it is that needs to be fixed. The next question is, how?
Select one thing to work on first. You may like to work on an easy ‘quick-fix’ item. The advantage of that is that it gives you both encouragement as you work towards the tough one.
Alternatively, it may make more sense to you to begin with the biggest problem and once you’ve dealt with that, the others will be easier in comparison.
Begin with what you are prepared to do to meet your partner halfway. You may need to look at your own behaviour and willingness to compromise. It could be time to renegotiate.
For example, you may agree that when he needs to be with his family, you could to do something else occasionally. You don’t have to do everything together all the time. There just has to be enough togetherness to make it a relationship as opposed to a convenient friendship.
Plan how you will approach the subject so that you don’t attack and blame. Find persuasive benefits to him that will encourage him to compromise.
It may come to giving an ultimatum: I’m not happy but I still care enough to give it another try. If we can’t agree, then maybe it’s time to part.’
Be prepared to give and take equally.
It is always your choice. If you decide to stay, you have to accept his failings and do the best you can to make yourself comfortable in the situation.
If you do decide to leave, you will be better prepared and be better able to smooth the transition for both of you.
Above all, you will be able to look back and know you tried your best. You’ll be able to move on without remorse or unanswered questions.
Imagine how you would feel if you were able to effectively evaluate your relationship and make good choices and decisions in the future. Interested? If so, contact me directly to arrange a convenient appointment time.
I’d love to know what you think of what I’ve said here.
You can give me your feedback, ask a question by email or post a comment below.
If you or someone you know would like a personal consultation, please call +61 3 9690 8159.
Any information presented on our website is of a general nature only and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice.
Reproducing and Sharing
Jacquie Wise has many articles available for reprinting in your newsletter, website, social media or to pass on to your friends (including this post) that she would be happy for you to share.
You can share a direct hyperlink to this post’s URL at anytime.
If you would like to reproduce any articles, Jacquie relies on your integrity to quote the content in its entirety and include the following acknowledgment at the end:
Alternatively, if you would like a tailor-made article, please contact Jacquie directly.
Make an enquiry now… or call us on +61 3 9690 8159