My husband and I are polar opposites.
- He is always hot; I am always cold. He wants it cold in the house, I want to be comfortable without umpteen layers on.
- He likes to change the radio station non-stop in the car. I listen to one station 100% of the time. In fact, changing stations gives me anxiety and unrest instead of enjoyment.
- He doesn’t get bothered by things not being orderly and clean. In order to function in life, I NEED things organized and clean. If our house is messy, I am internally a mess too.
- He is not emotional and not easily bothered by things. I am.
- He can easily get frustrated with people; I am very patient.
- He can always be “in the mood,” whereas I need lots of emotional connection first.
- He is super flexible and easy going. I need a plan and like an agenda.
- He is the funny one. I’m super serious and don’t always appreciate his humor.
- He doesn’t like responsibility. I am too responsible.
- He likes down time. I like to make to-do lists and be on the go.
- He thinks he is invincible. I worry about everything.
- He likes to play games on the computer. I like to read self-development books and view playing games on the computer a waste of time.
- He can eat leftovers days after. I feel leftovers 2+ days old belong in the garbage and are unsuitable to eat.
- He doesn’t really care about what other people think. I am a people pleaser.
- He shuts down in conflict and tends to walk away. I confront conflict head on and need to talk about it NOW.
- He wants to be right. I want to be heard.
The list goes on…
When we were dating and in our first couple years of marriage, our opposites brought me the peace and joy I was needing in life. However, when our first child came along, the roots of who I was, grabbed a strong hold on me. And because I was a perfectionist, I not only wanted my life to be perfect when we started our family, I also wanted my husband to be perfect. His personality and who he was, no longer fit in my ideal life, causing me to start fighting our differences like never before.
I was unhappy. Lonely. On the outside we looked picture perfect. On the inside we were like broken glass.
Fast forward to graduate school and taking my Conflict Resolution Courses. These courses changed our marriage and how I personally handled conflict in all areas of my life.
To my surprise, the problem wasn’t fully my husband. The problem had a lot to do with me.
- Instead of having a closed fist to our differences, I learned to hold my hand open.
- I learned it wasn’t just about me, but just as much about him.
- Instead of starting a conflict with my finger pointed outward, I started with it pointed inward.
- I learned to admit each time there was an issue, I was both part of the problem AND also part of the solution.
- Instead of having to confront the conflict by spewing out my viewpoint immediately, I learned to listen first.
- I learned instead of being a perfectionistic people pleaser, to allowed myself to view things from a different lens that wasn’t just about me or conforming to other’s thoughts and opinions.
And along the way, his life changed too. Through the tools I gained through my studies, we changed together. As he says it best “I am now the yin to his yang.”
- He is now more organized and I am more adaptable.
- He is now more structured and I am more laid-back.
- He now appreciates the house clean and I can function in a little disarray.
- He is now more mature and I am not so uptight.
As for the rest of the bullet points listed above about our differences, we have both learned to accept and appreciate who each other are. We understand the beauty the balance our differences bring us. Instead of fighting over them, we have learned a new approach when handling conflict in our marriage.
I was playing a victim, for life not handing me roses. Instead of waiting for my husband to be the perfect prince charming one morning when we woke up, I looked in the mirror to stop trying to change him and instead, worked on a better me. That’s when a deep relationship grew between us, when authentic happiness started and when love became a verb, not just a feeling.
I feel my life’s struggles can be a blessing of wisdom to others. My mission is to help people be their best self when faced with conflict. If you would like coaching on how to be a better version of you, when faced with conflict in any area of life, I’d love to walk this journey with you. Please see my coaching page for further information.
Life is a gift. Differences can make us wiser. Conflict can allow us the wisdom of empathy and broaden the lens in which we view life. Don’t fight conflict. Embrace it.