Overcoming Differences in a Relationship

A Love that Lasts

Everyone has heard the old adage “opposites attract.” In love and marriage, when opposites attract, the results are often both beautiful and tumultuous. Opposite personalities can contribute to the chemistry in a love relationship, but if a couple in a love relationship are too different, they might end up heading in different directions. How many shared similarities are necessary for successful love and marriage?

In a comprehensive study, researchers at the University of Iowa found that people tend to love and marry those who are similar in attitudes, religion and values. The results of the study appeared in the February issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association (APA). According to authors Luo and Klohnen:

“However, once people are in a committed relationship, it is primarily personality similarity that influences marital happiness because being in a committed relationship entails regular interaction and requires extensive coordination in dealing with tasks, issues and problems of daily living. Whereas personality similarity is likely to facilitate this process, personality differences may result in more friction and conflict in daily life.” “…As far as attitudes are concerned, people who chose to marry each other should be well aware of how similar or different they are on these domains because attitudes are very visible and salient. This suggests that attitudinal and value differences, when they exist, are part of a conscious decision to stay together on the basis of other important considerations.”

The study suggests that once in a committed love relationship, similarities in personality become more important for a happy marriage. It is important to determine which characteristics and values are important to you and also in a love and marriage partner.

It is undeniably true: some things we can overlook in our love relationship while some things are not to be tolerated. While similarities are critical to successful love and marriage, opposites do indeed attract.

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Some will argue, tirelessly, the point that successful love and marriage also depends on how different you and your partner are. Contrasting personalities, opposing cultures and ideas can benefit and nurture a love relationship or marriage by introducing each person to a whole new perspective. Ideally, our partner in love and marriage inspires and expands our world as we knew it before we met our partner.

Opposing personalities can and do also clash in love and marriage. Keep in mind, if you are not willing to change, then do not assume that you can change your partner.

Different points of view, even unfamiliar or uncomfortable ones, can encourage a whole new frame to your love relationship, and there’s nothing wrong with adding another dimension to your life and your love and marriage.

No matter how many similarities or differences exist in your relationship, compromise is the key to keeping your love and marriage vital. Any opposing realities must be confronted, or they could end up becoming emotionally expensive. A couple must learn how to communicate each other’s needs and make sacrifices.

Shelly Phegley is a staff writer for The National Directory of Family and Marriage Counseling located at http://www.counsel-search.com

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