What’s this? Relationship advice from AIP? Don’t panic, we’re not trying to be your counsellors nor psychologists, we’re just two very genuine people who love to share our insights and epiphanies. We’re both very passionate about continual improvement and positive adaption to change in life, and what part of our lives do we need that more than ever? In our relationship with our significant other.
We have reached that point in our relationship (at 18 months) where we’re beginning to notice how unalike we can be. Undeniably we’ve all heard the saying “opposites attract”, but over time those differences can cause frustration, misapprehensions and disagreements. I’m sure we can all agree that what may have drawn you to someone at first can somehow turn and be the thing that grates you like nails on a chalkboard. No epiphanies there I know, but stay with me.
Pete and I share very similar viewpoints on life and common values. We are exceedingly compatible and have a good understanding of each other’s love language, life goals and the things that empower, and equally disempower, each other. We have well and truly established and promised to always be a team and will at all times be there to support the other person, even if we disagree on their choices or actions. This, above all else, is what makes me certain that I have found my life partner. So what’s the big deal you ask? We don’t sound that dissimilar, do we?
Well, did you know that a lot of the things Pete seeks out and revels in actually petrifies me? Pete is a triathlete and thrives on the energy, competition and challenge that comes with the first leg of a triathlon: the swim. I on the other hand, before my last triathlon, was standing on the shoreline trembling and felt like I was going to lose my breakfast. Likewise, Pete has earned his solo skydiving licence, however I am quite certain I’d faint if I even sat with my legs hanging out of the plane. Yeah.. so.. we don’t have to do those things together, do we? They’re not everyday life things. Well how about something a little more day-to-day? I’m the kind of lady who runs on a strict schedule and can prioritise, organise and execute my day with impeccable timing. Pete, although very much like this at work, will leave a substantial amount of the rest of his free time to open design. Nothing pleases him quite like the ability to have a day where he can do whatever he likes, whenever he likes and however he feels like it. I thrive on the feeling of everything being in order, while Pete loves that bit of “chaos” in his life. I match all of my socks, he likes to mix and match. I have identical coat hangers, his are from every possible shop known to man. I have my budget down to a dollar, he’s a little more liberal. Neither of us are right, nor are either of us wrong. We are just different. Black and white. Yin and Yang.
One thing that we have agreed upon is that we will always be open and honest with each other. Not callously nor bluntly, but authentic and always empathetic: empathy being the key term here. It is the ability to put yourself into someone else’s shoes and understand things from their point of view. I am constantly needing to remind myself of that every time I note something unalike about us. Why is it that Pete does things like that? What does it mean to him? Let me give you an example: yesterday, out of interest, I asked Pete why he rarely wears matching socks, and you know what his answer was? Because it’s something that he doesn’t have to do: because unlike needing to have things impeccable within his Engineering occupation it doesn’t matter if he freestyles his sock combo. I had to ruminate on this for a while so that I could fully appreciate it.. and you know what? Underneath the fact that I couldn’t “free-range” my socks even if I wanted to, I absolutely LOVE the reason why he does. He’s free. He’s not unyielding and stuck in rigid ways. Life is supposed to be delighted in and lived to its fullest: nothing stifles that like inflexible schedules and unrealistic time restraints. Thank you Peter for reminding me of this every time I look at your mismatched feet coverings.
We can so easily fall into that snare of trying to transform our partner to be more like us. Whether we realise it or not, we subconsciously want them to suit our preferences and habits. But in doing so we dilute and alter the qualities that make that person who they are. We need to accept, respect and allow that person to be themselves. After my ruminating and realisation of how much I appreciated Pete’s ways I made sure to tell him that I do not want to change him, and that it’s important that he holds me accountable to that (and of course vice versa).
He’s the wings that keeps my head in the clouds. I’m the anchor that keeps him grounded. We will at times pull against each other, but we know how healthy and beautiful it is to be perfectly different. I may be the world’s most nervous triathlete but nothing gives me greater fulfilment than emerging delightedly from the water and transitioning into my zones of strength (cycling and running). I would not have even dreamt of swimming into open water without observing Pete’s boldness and his gentle reminders that I am capable of so much more than I believed: I just had to start.
Can I encourage you to be mindful on a daily basis that your partner, as a unique individual, contains a spice that at one point was a delight for you: find that, value it, appreciate it and let your partner be free in their own breathtaking way. Love is a wonderful thing: it so beautifully enables us to be more than we can be alone.
Love the difference methods through which you achieve the same outcomes.