Today I’m standing on my cyber soapbox. Geared up for what I hope is a respectful rant.
After 5 decades on this planet, I am tired of the way we so easily let relationship differences divide us. So I want to proclaim 3 beliefs that I hold deep to my heart. If we embrace these 3 principles, our relationships might be forever transformed. Or at least significantly improved…
Relationship differences do not inherently divide us.
- Lucy Liberal can be happily married to Ricky Republican….
- Pro-Life Polly can be best friends with Pro-Choice Pat…
- African American Allison can warmly welcome Caucasian Carl as her son-in-law…
- Heterosexual Hal can lovingly interact with his son, Gay Gavin…
- Baptist Becky and Buddhist Beth can enrich each other’s spiritual practice….
Why? Because relationship differences are not necessarily dangerous.
- Lucy and Ricky support different political platforms. That’s not dangerous. But if either prioritizes their political views above their relationship, dangerous division emerges.
- Polly and Pat have opposing views on abortion. That, in itself, does not endanger the friendship. But if either demeans the other, or relentlessly argues for the primacy of her view, their BFF relationship erodes.
- Race does not divide humans – unless we choose to let it. Then danger emerges. If Allison prioritizes her her view of racial separateness above family relationships, she may lose a connection with her daughter and new son-in-law.
- Hal and Gavin have differing views on homosexuality. One sees a choice, the other an identity. What they do with this difference creates danger. If either looks at the other exclusively through eyes of judgment, the father/son bond takes a nose dive.
- Becky and Beth have different spiritual practices. That, in itself, does not divide them. But if either prioritizes beliefs over people, another human connection goes down the tubes. And so do opportunities to learn from each other and make the world a better place.
Relationship differences form the glue that holds us together.
If you don’t believe this, visit my business Facebook page and see how folks are weighing in on differences in a relationship. (But please come right back so I can complete my respectful rant).
In each scenario above, differences could be the catalyst for danger. If either person fights to win – on any issue in the relationship – their union ultimately loses. Just like many of us lost financially with government shutdowns and furloughs. We need a different approach…
To mix the glue that holds us together, we need to:
- Abandon the win/lose approach in relationships.
- Suspend our assumptions.
- Discuss our differences with true curiosity.
- Prioritize respect for the people in our lives.
- Seek to genuinely understand the other person.
Pick a pair above and imagine the transformation that could occur if at least one person in the relationship stopped trying to win, suspended assumptions, became curious, prioritized respect, and sought to truly understand the other.
Now pause to think about one of your own relationships. How might things change if you started mixing this glue?
As always, speak your mind in the comments below. Affirm. Disagree. Let’s make some glue!
I agree Gina. We can agree to disagree and be open to seeing things as “an interesting point of view”. It does not have to be a win/lose situation. Thanks for sharing!
Great rant Gina! 😉 I agree with you that people make their differences divide them, rather than taking a neutral objective stance to open a communicative conversation about those differences. Sadly, if left to polarize, these differences will eventually lead to a relationship that might be beyond the point of saving. My motto is “there’s always another way” and that includes looking at all the options to save what works and to transform what doesn’t. Thanks for the great discussion points you offer in this post.
Beverley, I like your motto! And saving what works “to transform what doesn’t” is golden for any relationship.
I never thought about this before, but it’s absolutely true! Having differences if healthy, if we didn’t have differences we would be dating ourselves and that’s never fun. 🙂
I think relationship differences are good actually. they add some dynamic and makes it interesting. Imagine if we were all the same
“Differences form a glue that binds relationship together”… Very nice way to look into things. If everybody will do the same, we would have a better world! 🙂
I like your outlook “Differences form a glue that binds relationship together….” It is a healthy outlook on life. I believe differences can be good as it keeps things interesting! 🙂
It isn’t only differences that can cause splinters. Having to win an argument, Having to be right is DEATH to a relationship. My motto is “I’d rather have Love than be right” because they can not exist in the same space. My immediate family has some political and religious differences. We just don’t discuss them, we know each others positions and we respect the differences.
I think differences are what make people interesting. The key is respect and acceptance.
Imagine how boring things would be if we didn’t have those differences. The key is to identify the differences and, as long as they are not related to differing values, learn to turn them into the spice in the relationship!
I always try to keep the person separate from the differences. For example, I personally do not agree with the gay lifestyle. I believe it is a choice. That’s my belief. With that belief, I know and have friends who are gay. They are very nice people and I have other things in common. I believe most relationships do have differences. Those differences demand respect the same way things held in common are respected. I can respect a person without agreeing with everything about them. Great article.