10 reasons why differences are great for a relationship
It has been said that opposites attract, and whilst that is true to an extent, a difference in personalities is often cited as the main reason for the breakdown of many relationships. Whilst it is important to have some key things in common with the person you’re in a relationship with, for example, a shared faith, similar moral values, and world views, it is also possible to have a great relationship with someone that is quite different from you. In fact, I believe our differences can have a positive impact on our relationship and even make it all the better.
Here are 10 reasons differences are great for a relationship.
Our differences enrich the relationship
How boring would life be if we were all the same? Our differences are what make us unique. Our upbringing, quirks, ways of thinking, hobbies and other habits all make us who we are and they are what makes a relationship exciting! Each person brings something unique to the relationship which makes it all the richer for it.
So, if you’re dating someone who is interested in things that you don’t particularly like, for example, don’t see that as an obstacle in the relationship, but instead, an opportunity to experience the world differently. This takes me to my second point.
Our differences are an opportunity to learn about each other and grow
When I first met my husband, I soon discovered his love for the outdoors and long walks. Being the homebody that I was, I wasn’t too keen on spending a lot of my time outdoors, but I wanted to know more about him, so I made the conscious decision to go on walks with him and see what all the fuss was about! Now, I’m still not a massive outdoors fan but I enjoy it a lot more than I used to, and it is a great opportunity for us to spend time together, talking about and planning the rest of our lives together.
God made us all different. And we all have something different to bring to the table
Diversity is talked about a lot in workplaces today, and rightly so, because people from different backgrounds bring different experiences and expertise to the table. It is the same in a relationship – each person brings something different and if we’re willing to see our differences as a good thing, a gift from God even, we can maximise it for the good of our relationship.
Take, for example, a couple from two different cultures. If they go on to have children, instead of worrying about which of the two cultures their kids may fit into, they can choose to see it instead as a blessing that their kids get to experience and grow up with the best of both cultures – something not many people get to do in their lifetime.
Our differences help us to be less selfish
As humans we have the tendency to think only of ourselves, or at least, most of the time. When in a relationship, we are forced to think about someone else and consider their thoughts and feelings before we make decisions. When the way they think and act are different to ours, we are forced to make adjustments in our lives, to accommodate them (or at least we should, if we want the relationship to work).
Our differences teach us how to love
Like the point above, our differences teach us how to truly love each other. There’s a verse in the Bible which I love – Colossians 3 verse 13 (NLT) – which says, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”
This is how we should treat our Christian brothers and sisters, but we should also be applying the same principle when it comes to relationships. Making allowance for each other’s differences means trying to understand them and see things from their point of view. In so doing, we learn to truly love.
Our differences help to build intimacy
The dictionary definition of intimacy is ‘close familiarity or friendship’. Differences in a relationship can help us build intimacy with the person we’re with if we take the time to learn from them and understand them. Asking questions to find out why they think or do things a certain way shows that you care and that you’re interested in them.
This also creates a safe environment for the person to open up to you, which breeds intimacy. Also, taking an interest in things that may not be your favourite things to do (e.g. me and the outdoors) can provide opportunities to spend time together.
Our differences help us to step out of our comfort zone
Our differences help us to step out of our comfort zone, do new things and experience different ways of living. Life is about growth, and we can’t grow if we refuse to try new things or challenge ourselves by stepping out of our comfort zone. Being in a relationship with someone that has a different temperament, or different interests gives us the opportunity to do things we may never have considered if we hadn’t met them.
Our differences help us to be more effective in problem solving
As the saying goes, ‘two heads are better than one’. More so if those two heads think differently! Different people approach tasks or problems in different ways, and in a relationship, having someone that can look at things from a different viewpoint can help with problem solving.
Our differences inspire us to be better versions of ourselves
Being in a relationship with someone that’s very different to us can push us to improve areas of our lives, when we learn from them and emulate those aspects of their character that we find inspiring, or positively challenging. For example, if you’re the kind of person that’s not the best with money, being with someone that is good with money can help you improve your financial stewardship, if you’re willing to learn and emulate their good habits.
Our differences bring wholeness to the relationship
Whilst each person is whole as an individual, there is an element of supplementation that comes when you’re in a healthy relationship. One person will likely have skills that the other person doesn’t have or bring a different point of view because of different experiences or upbringing. In other words, one person compensates for the other person’s lack and together our differences make us stronger.
Having things in common is a good basis for a good relationship, but differences don’t have to be an obstacle to a successful relationship. If you’re willing to get to know the other person, learn from them and accommodate said differences, you may find that your differences could be the key to the success of your relationship.