Is She Different in a Good Way or a Bad Way?

Sometimes similar experiences and similar tastes bring people together. Sometimes differences do. But differences often pose the greatest challenges for couples trying to have a successful relationship. Let's explore some of these challenges and how to handle them.

Different Religions
So many couples today begin a relationship feeling that their different religions will not be a problem. After all, they aren't dedicated to attending services at the church, mosque, synagogue, or temple every week, so what's the big deal? The big deal, you might find out, is that you don't like not being able to share that part of your life with the person you're supposed to be closest to. If you don't find common values and appreciate why that religion is important to your partner, then it can drive a wedge between you slowly and quietly.

Different Expectations About Relationships
Some guys are brought up expecting a woman to speak up and make her own decisions. Some are brought up expecting to be the decision maker who has the final say in his family. Some expect equal financial contributions, and some expect to "provide for the family" and have the woman stay home. Yes, these norms keep changing, but the way you're brought up can have a big effect on your expectations for the dynamics of your partnership. Even if you consciously want your relationship to be different from your parents', you still have to overcome those subconscious feelings about what's acceptable.

Different Ways of Expressing Affection
Some guys grew up with lots of hugs and kisses within the family. They saw their parents expressing affection openly, and they like that approach to relationships. Others were brought up with parents who gave reserved pats on the back and occasionally bestowed mild compliments. There is not just one best way to show affection. If you and your sweetie have different expectations about how to show that you care, then you will have to work on understanding each other so that you both feel appreciated and loved.

Different Financial Styles
Besides varied expectations about who supports the family, couples also tend to have financial conflicts over how money should be spent. A huge TV screen may seem like a necessity to a man and like an unnecessary indulgence to his woman. Likewise, when your sweetie spends in excess of $100 on another pair of black shoes or a trip to the hair salon, you might have trouble understanding why she sees that as a "need." Planning together for financial balance can help keep you emotionally balanced as well.

When facing these types of relationship challenges, discussion and compromise can help you blend your mismatched views. But don't put it off too long - what appears like a minor difference can actually be a major deal breaker when you realize how deep that behavior is ingrained in your partner. Sharing your motivations and reactions can foster compromise and understanding. And perhaps then you'll start noticing more of what you have in common and adore about each other.

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