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The Tug-of-war of Our Differences


Priscilla Hunt, CRCC

We want to be on the same page. Our desire is to work together and function as a team. But our differences keep us stuck. So we’re in a constant tug-of-war over the simplest decision about what to do with a free Saturday.

To illustrate, he wants to go out to a movie with friends; you want to stay home and stream a movie. She wants to visit a new museum exhibit; you want to ride bikes in the park. He wants to have guys over to watch the football game; you want his help to complete the house-painting project.

Teamwork? Same page? Hardly!

We’re in a constant “negotiation” to decide what to do, where to go, and even what to eat for dinner. Until we can get together on decisions, one of us is going to be unhappy. If he’s generally the one to give in to her desires, he’ll build up resentment over time. When she’s usually the one to compromise, resentment won’t be far behind.

Ideas for getting on the same page

  • Get beyond the “I want” to the “we could” – open your mind to new ideas
  • Take turns choosing the Saturday activity
  • Brainstorm a list of possible activities and choose the one where there’s overlapping interest. Even better, write them down and draw one out of a hat so there’s an element of neutral surprise.
  • Talk about each other’s interests in general to get a bigger picture of your partner’s likes and dislikes to build intimacy and connection
  • Explore where those preferences come from – dig beneath the surface to better appreciate the origins of how those likes and dislikes developed
  • Look at the bigger picture of what you each want your relationship to look like. Then strategize together how you’re going to get there.
  • Pre-plan a month at a time to cut down on the relentlessness of having to decide what to do.

Without a doubt, our differences can be a source of conflict. Or they can be a source of enrichment and growth. What experiences might broaden your repertoire of enjoyable activities? If you haven’t tried something new, how will you know whether you’ll like it or not? Be open. Remain flexible. Be willing to go through the pain of being on separate pages to the joy of collaborating to make decisions that take into account your differences.

In conclusion, let your differences work for you rather than against you. Let them broaden your idea of what’s fun and what’s not. Just think of all the new experiences you’ll discover!

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