Forever Friday, How To Communicate About Personality Differences

It’s Friday.   Not Sure about You, but for me Friday is Forever Friday – and the day that I write my blog for couples who are in a committed relationship Forever and Always.  Friday just seems like a relationship day in my own mind, because it’s the day I start to turn more attention from my work week back towards my husband and children.  When I talk with my awesome, hard working clients I know that this is not easy for some people.  That transition from work back to significant other is not always an easy one, especially if you are having some tension.

Tension is Not uncommon.  One thing I have learned over the years is how Complicated partnership is!  In fact, research by Gottman has found about 69% of marital disagreements are perpetual fights over the same personality differences!  I was teasing my father about this during summer vacation – he and my mother were having one of the same personality disagreements they have been having every summer for my whole life.  They are generally getting along, but there is an underlying tension because my Dad is looking for some time away to just kind of decompress and my Mom likes to focus on family bonding and connecting with the children during summer vacation.  These kinds of tension used to create distress for me when I was younger.  Because I am intuitive, I pick up on this stuff! Now I can only commiserate since I have the same kind of personality differences with my husband.  It doesn’t cause major knock down drag out fights but it does cause some underlying tension and we can definitely have words with each other.

I was supervising three younger therapist interns this week, and we were discussing a current case in which a couple’s personality differences are creating perpetual conflict.  Wait a minute – this is pretty much a part of Every. Single. Client. Situation. That I Am Servicing!  I can think of numerous couples right now in which partners improved and resolved some of their differences with my help. For example, the “organized spouse” who likes everything planned versus the “spontaneous spouse” who likes to fly by the seat of their pants. Or ever heard of the “good cop” versus “bad cop” parent? Yep, often times that is yet another personality difference becoming a perpetual fight between partners!

What is the anecdote?  It is not clear cut, but it does include discussions about the differences, some humor in the differences when possible, and both people making commitments to move towards a middle ground.  For myself and my husband, one of our differences just came out yesterday.  I usually want to take action on decisions right away and am much more decisive – he on the other hand likes to mull things over (for far too long in my meager opinion). Deep breath, tomorrow I will probably be waiting on something I am ready to take action now!  This is not easy, but I know I sometimes benefit from sleeping on things and taking my time (Even if it’s only because my husband is pushing me to slow down!)

What other steps can you take?  Ask your significant other how you can move towards a middle ground and work on it!  Push him or her to do the same!  Alternatively, look at the positive side or the strengths of your partner’s personality differences.  Try to look at the big picture, and remember you might just benefit from being less stubborn and trying to be a little more like your better half.

If you want to talk more about how perpetual problems and personality differences play out in your own relationship and how to improve communication and compromises for your particular relationship tension, please schedule an appointment for Relationship Coaching!  Also, stay tune for upcoming free webinars on how to improve communication and have more success and less drama and fighting in your relationships.  I want to help meet your goal of not only making your relationship last Forever.  But having joy and happiness in your relationship forever!



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