Are our problems really our differences?

I always thought when I was studying to be a Relationship Counsellor that I would be working with couples that wanted to settle their differences.

I mean, surely people that are having a dispute are finding it hard to move forward because they’re just plain old different, right?

Well, now, having worked with hundreds of couples, I’m of the belief that differences, more often than not, appear not to be the real issue.

In fact, it’s sort of the complete opposite.

Find me a couple that sees the world differently, doesn’t do things the same way, doesn’t argue the same way, and…well, to be honest, I reckon they may not need Relationship Counselling!

I mean the flower and the bee are entirely different things aren’t they? But despite their significant differences, they have a wonderful synergy that helps them both reach their individual natural potential.

The bee and the flower are never stuck in a stalemate.

In a strange kind of backward way, couples that are too similar may find themselves in dire straits just as much, if not more, than the polar opposite people.

For example, stubborn people tend to partner up with…yes, you guessed it, stubborn people!

I don’t think we consciously do it, but maybe part of us wants to be validated by being with someone that shares our traits.

Going back to that stubbornness thing, I think a lot of people would find it to be a positive if you both agreed to be stubborn on a first date!

You could make a similar statement about assertiveness. If two people both want to drive the bus all the time, how do they work that out?

“You’re argumentative and self-righteous, that’s amazing, so am I!” (you get the picture I’m sure).

I don’t mean that these couples are a perfect mirror-image of each other, often the way they communicate and present themselves (and their issues) are very different.

But, and I can’t really think of a better way of explaining this, they can sort of be like a Seagull and a Pidgeon.

Almost no one would say that a Seagull and a Pidgeon are the same things, after all, they are different in colour and body shape, but ultimately, they both have wings, feathers, two legs, a beak, etc.

They are different things, but by gee, they are similar in a lot of ways too.

When you’re trying to help people move forward, to avoid stalemates, a bit of Yin/Yang can make my life as the Relationship Counsellor easier.

So, maybe if things aren’t humming along for you and your partner, it’s because you might ultimately be trying to better each other by bringing the same strengths and weaknesses to the table.

I think you could also make an argument to say, and I speak from a lot of experience here, that the couples that are different often have a little more spice in their life.

They complement each other well, one person helping spark the other into new experiences and outlooks, and vice-versa.

So, in a nutshell, don’t be afraid of difference, and be very careful that underneath it all your issues center more around the areas where you’re both bringing almost the exact same thing.

About Joel Helmes 75 Articles
I offer a person-centered and solutions-focused approach to my work as a Relationship and Adult Counsellor. I utilize skills from a number of modalities. I believe that we are all capable of change and I hope that I might be able to assist you in achieving this.