Different From Your Partner? How This Can Be A Strength Rather Than A Problem

Do you sometimes wish your partner acted, thought, or did things more like you?  Instead of being frustrated by your differences, it would be a better use of your time and energy to acknowledge your partner’s strengths and find ways they can benefit your relationship.

Everyone has areas of natural talent and areas where they are weaker.  However, our society mistakenly emphasizes that we need to excel in most areas, be “well-rounded” or – at the very least – competent at most things.  But since humans are meant to be in relationships with others, we really don’t have to be good at everything, or even good at most things.  As humans, we’ve always lived in communities.  We are interdependent: connected with and relying on one another.  Instead of trying so hard to be good at everything, we should focus on using our own strengths in conjunction with our partner’s.

Think about what your partner’s strengths are.  Is your partner naturally good at…

  • Thinking and problem-solving
  • Relating to and empathizing with others
  • Taking action
  • being creative
  • Going with the flow
  • Expressing emotions
  •  Providing for the family
  •  Managing finances
  •  Being stable and responsible
  •  Being organized
  •  Being fun and playful
  •  Being athletic and/or sensual

Now consider how you feel about those strengths. Here’s what I’ve seen time and again with couples in long-standing relationships: They admired their partner’s strengths when they first got together, but over time, came to hate (or at least be annoyed by) this same trait! Think back to the beginning of your relationship. Were you drawn toward your partner because you admired his/her traits? It felt exhilarating to be with this type of person, perhaps because you were not as strong in these things. Then, over time, your admiration faded and you’re now complaining about that same trait.  Where you once said, “I love that my new boyfriend is so easygoing,” you are now saying, “Why is he so passive? Doesn’t he care about anything?!”

You will dramatically change your relationship if you acknowledge your partner’s strengths and appreciate them. Here’s what you need to know that happily married couples already know:

  • The differences between you are an asset to the relationship
  • Interdependence means that you each bring different talents to the relationship
  • You can create much more together than either of you could alone
  • Partnership means leaning on your strengths sometimes and on your partner’s strengths other times.

Of course, there are going to be times when you need to ask your partner to change something or to be different in some area of his/her life. Rather, I’m talking today about your general outlook on your relationship. It’s beneficial when you can view having different strengths as an asset to your relationship, rather than a problem.

To schedule an appointment with us and learn more about how you can come to appreciate your partner’s strengths, call 908-246-3074, email mkeller@couplestherapycenterofnj.com 

Meredith Keller's Book

Relationship Essentials

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