Savvy womens Magazine

 

The Magic Of Your Differences

The first blush of love is intoxicating. Every touch, every kiss, every thought of each other is enough to quicken your heart and thrill your spirit. You are perfect for one another.

Then things change. Differences show up. You feel annoyed. Irritated. The flare of anger is close at hand. Instead of that wondrous perfection you enjoyed what seems like just a few days ago, that sought after and treasured experience of two-who-have-become-as-one, you now feel suddenly separate, almost alone. You're not even sure he is someone you like anymore.

While it is shocking and painful, your relationship has entered the next passage of its growth and development. We call it the clash of differences. In order for your relationship to deepen, to become more intimate and trustworthy, the clash of differences must occur.

Why? Because love is not static. It must grow - or wither.

During the first passage of love, that time of ecstasy when you've just found each other, the rich feeling of oneness often blocks awareness of your individual differences. But for love to be real, to last and flourish over time, it must be based on the discovery of a deeper love, one that can only grow out of the uniqueness that each of you bring. We call that the magic of differences. To have that magic you need only be willing to follow where love wants to take you - and that is into greater care and respect for yourself and one another.

Real love insists that you move beyond the easy connection of the early days and allow your differences to make themselves known. You can't help but reveal more of your complexity, your limitations, quirks, excellence, and most important, those moments when you can't imagine things going any other way but your way, those moments when you don't remember that there ever was an ecstasy. In other words, real love demands that you reveal your whole self. If not, how can you know that you are truly loved - loved for who you really are?

Unfortunately, most couples don't understand that the clash of differences is not only inevitable, but necessary. It is that time when love asks, "Are you serious about your relationship? Are you willing to venture beyond what you expected and learn what awaits you? Do you want a full and wondrous love, a love that takes root deep inside both of you? Or do you just want to be entertained?"

When faced with love's challenges, far too many couples give up and let go of what could have been a very good relationship. Why? Because they think that conflict means failure. They expect that a spiritually meaningful love will just happen without any effort on their part. They rage or withdraw emotionally, convinced that something has gone terribly wrong. And they despair that love is no longer possible.

This notion that love is without conflict is wrong. Flat wrong. That not only short-changes the spiritual journey love wants for you, but it also denies the natural and necessary progression you must face when you join your unique self with your partner who is also one-of-a-kind.

Excluding emotional and/or physical abuse, which absolutely and unequivocally have nothing to do with love, your conflicts are signals that both of you are showing up in your distinctiveness, and that is a fundamental requirement if you are to ever have a relationship you can trust with your whole heart and soul.

However, we must all have compassion for ourselves. Since no one receives training in how to date effectively and how to co-create a successful, romantic long-term relationship, most people, men and women alike, believe that conflict means that somebody wins and somebody loses. No one likes to lose and the winner never really wins because the loser gets revenge somewhere down the line. So that kind of conflict is not only painful but pointless. Why wouldn't we want to stay in the simple and easy pleasures of the first part of love?

Because that isn't possible. As we said, love changes. It takes all of us into the dark side of who we are so that we can be assured that we are loved wholly - no masks, no games-loved for who we are, through and through. That's the only way we can know if we are truly lovable and develop the capacity to love someone else in just the same way.

The key to attracting and co-creating trustworthy love is to redefine the notion of conflict. Rather than a win/lose battle, understand that each conflict is a gift from the heart of your togetherness. It acts like a flare, shot up from the depths of your relationship, alerting both of you that something important needs attention. Something in your relationship is calling out for new understanding, compassion, care, and healing. In other words, when you avoid conflict, you avoid an important expression of the rich unfolding of growth and change that benefits each of you and your relationship and keeps you true to love's journey.

The idea of opening yourself to conflict may sound daunting. After all, do you want to risk antagonizing the very person you feel such love for? But if you don't bring forth the truth of what you are feeling-the hurt, fear, disappointment, anger, and sadness that arise from your clash of differences-then you are not being loving, no matter what you say. You are not letting your partner know the truth. And that is not real love.

Furthermore, you will end up secretly stuffing your vulnerable and raw feelings, keeping secrets from your partner, and you will drain the life out of your relationship.

Love cannot thrive in pretense. Love can grow only out of what is real.

So where is the magic in all of this? The magic comes in the singularly rich intimacy you will be creating together. This is the real, dependable, all-embracing intimacy in which you both feel secure and willing to expand on and explore the full range of your feelings for each other - from the sweetest affection, to your personal doubts and insecurities, and, yes, your fierceness when necessary.

There, in your differences, you will discover lasting passion, romance in even the smallest moments, wisdom that guides you through the tough times, joy in simply being together, and a deepening spiritual awareness that love is real and it is what you thought it could be.

Don't hide from your differences, especially when they lead to conflict. They are fertile soil for co-creating mutual respect, esteem, trust, intimacy, joy, and the very real magic that awaits you at the heart of who you really are.

About the Authors:
Husband-and-wife psychology team Judith Sherven, Ph.D. and Jim Sniechowski, Ph.D., are the bestselling authors of Be Loved for Who You Really Are, The New Intimacy, and Opening to Love 365 Days a Year. As guest experts they've been on over 900 television and radio shows including Oprah, The O'Reilly Factor, 48 Hours, Canada AM, and The View.
Visit their website at www.themagicofdifferences.com/swm

Read more of Judith & Jim's relationship advice. . .