Brexit is not only shaping politics; it’s influencing romantic relationships too!
It’s a little under a year ago since that historic vote for the UK to leave the European Union. And as the negotiations get underway, it’s a time of change. We find ourselves in challenging and uncertain times.
For some, this feels liberating and exciting. At last, it’s possible to imagine the end of an unhealthy relationship and look forward to starting over.
Then again for others, nothing could further from the truth. A security blanket has been pulled from under their feet. And what was familiar for such a long time, together with their sense identity and belonging are now all at risk.
And there it is; difference.
A different point of view, a different way of seeing the world and a difference in how people are affected by events happening around them.
The Magical Other
Couples face challenges on how to navigate differences in their relationships every day. As well as political views common ones include attitudes to:
- Money and debt
- Outside friendships
- Work life balance
- Morals and values
That said, for some couples, an event like Brexit highlights other significant differences.
Connecting to our commonalities is easy. We are drawn toward people who have similar interests to ourselves. When faced with difference people often say that they don’t see it. They just see their partner for who they are. To them, differences such as age, ethnicity, cultural background, and class are not significant.
In the early romantic phase of love, differences are filtered out. You and your partner seem like one. Or I as Jerry Maguire said ‘You….you complete me.’
Jungian Analyst James Hollis notes that the search for this Magical Other seems to be hardwired into our neurological and emotional network.
But differences do exist. And they exist in all relationships. The mistake couples make in ignoring them, is to close their eyes to their partner’s humanness.
Why Embracing Difference is Difficult
Have you ignored some of the differences in your relationship in the hope that you would both eventually learn to think and behave in the same way?
Focusing on difference can feel divisive. And that feeling makes perfect sense. One reason is that your differences play a vital part in the conflict phase of the relationship. You notice all the things in your partner that you cannot abide or no longer willing to tolerate. What was cute in romance now becomes acute in conflict.
While conflict is healthy and part of the process of building a lasting relationship, it’s often painful.
And then there’s vulnerability. That feeling of uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.
You may feel vulnerable when your partner requests to be more experimental with your sex life. You may feel uncertain how to respond to your partner when they experience racial, xenophobic or sexist abuse. Or perhaps you avoid certain family members. It hurts you that they reject your partner, and your relationship, because of a difference they won’t accept.
The Mistake Couples Make
David Richo says:
differences are mere adornments to similarities, and when seen in this way the fear of difference fades away.
In the Roman Myth, Venus (Goddess of Love) and Mars (God of War) produce a divine child named Harmony.
To put another way, perhaps the lesson for modern times is harmonious relating comes from engaging and connecting with the difference. The mistake couples make, is to do the exact opposite, struggling to make each other the same.
When we learn to put aside our fears, or desires to be the same real intimacy is possible.
So you don’t have to repeat the mistake couples make. But that requires work on your relationship.
So, the invitation is to honour and explore your differences. Don’t make the mistake and ignore your differences. They offer unique gifts. Here are three to start.
Three Ways Your Differences Are Gifts
1. You Understand and Develop a Deeper Sense of Connection With Your Partner.
Sharing your personal stories is very enriching and deepens intimacy. Be willing to listen and learn. Know that sometimes you might not get it. But you can still show empathy. Be vulnerable enough to accept that you don’t know all the answers. These are both amazing things. Your partner will appreciate it.
2. You Will Learn More About Yourself.
Your partner holds up a mirror, reflecting back aspects of yourself. Consequently, the problems you see in others are the issues that you have.
So, if you’re an introvert fed up with your partners constant socialising, maybe your soul may be yearning to be the life and soul of the party. As much as finding out more about your partner embracing difference is an opportunity to re- examine who you are.
3. You Will Expand Your Horizons.
As you open yourself up and to look beyond what is familiar you will see the world through a different lens. In time, these diverse experiences allow you to express yourself more fully and be more authentically present in the world.
Over to You
Is the mistake couples make handling difference familiar to you? When you’re struggling with conflict in your relationship because of differences it’s tough. What are the differences in your relationship?
If you need to explore how to embrace difference in your relationship get in touch and book your FREE 15-minute phone consultation to discuss your situation and how I can help.
Or call me today on 07535 864836.
Soul Centred couples counsellor Sandra Harewood specialises in working with couples and single women with childhood wounding that impacts their adult relationships. Sandra provides a soulful space for her clients to explore and discover creative solutions to their difficulties and create great relationships.