You’re an introvert, they’re an extrovert.
You need quiet when you first wake up, they need loud audio stimulation.
Your idea of a date night is a quiet evening, their idea is a night on the town.
I often see opposites attracted to each other. Someone quick to anger is paired with someone who stays calm. Being with someone who balances you can be beneficial. However, the flip side of that is maintaining that balance. These differences can feel fundamental. Sometimes it’s hard to understand why your partner works a certain way.
Cue a bad day, financial struggles, parenting difficulties, anything that instigates negativity, and all of a sudden their quirks can feel like unreconcilable differences. Before running off to complain to your friends, let us see if we can go through a few steps on how to navigate honoring yourself, your partner, and your relationship.
Lets take a look at what to accomplish, an example, and suggestion questions to get the conversation going. Try to find a time where you and your partner are both and in a non-confrontational space. Maybe it is while driving, after dinner, or on a weekend. Good ways to start the conversation are, “I noticed I got frustrated the other day when (this) happened and I’m wondering if we could talk about it so we can figure out something that works for the both of us.” You can also try, “I get frustrated when (event) happens. I don’t like being frustrated around you, so I’d like to brainstorm some things that might help.” You may even be able to just hand them this blog post and go “sound familiar?” The latter is not my first recommendation, but it might get a few laughs if the energy is good. 😊
Differences can feel fundamental, but most of these differences are not truly fundamental at the core. Using the date night example, I would imagine both of you value quality time together. You both want to connect and focus on building your relationship. You just have different ways of doing that. Below are possible motives for each preference.
- The partner who wants to stay in:
- Do they value being able to have quiet conversation?
- Do they want to quickly transition into the bedroom?
- Are they an introvert and the date night is planned on a work day after all their social energy is tapped out?
- The partner who wants a night on the town:
- Do they value having a unique shared memory?
- Do they want to “show off” their partner?
- Are they really attached to the idea of showing their partner a certain restaurant, band, venue, or something new?
Explore this with your partner and make sure you take the time to listen. Once the core need or desire is identified, we can move on to the next step and make sure those things are satisfied.
Question prompts for this step:
- What is something you value in doing ________?
- How does doing ______ benefit you/our relationship?
- Does ______ feel like a need or a preference?
- When you picture doing _______ what are you most excited about?
- If we don’t do ______ will you be disappointed?
- Is ____ something you value in doing together or individually?
I know, compromise is the second biggest “C” word, second only to communication in the relationship health world. It really is vital! Resentment and anger can easily take root without communication and compromise.
Some actions may be an automatic response from a partner. If this is the case, it may not be an issue at all for them to change the reflex once they are aware of the impact. However, some actions may be a legitimate need. In that case, we move into the brainstorming step of compromise. Compromises can happen in a wide variety of ways, such as those listed below.
- Time an event takes place (ie: Can you move date night to a weekend instead of a work day?)
- Location an event takes place (ie: Can they play music in the bathroom while they get ready instead of the bedroom?)
- Duration of an event (ie: We can still go to a friend’s party, but can we limit it to two hours?)
- Splitting up the event (ie: Lets do the concert and then come home for dinner OR stay in for an early movie then go out for socializing)
- Giving warning or limits about the event (ie: They can play music in the morning, but only with a ten minute warning to the person who wants quiet. / Plan a full night on the town, but notify the other 2 days in advance.)
Complete and Check in!
Now, the fun part! It’s time to enjoy your hard work. Act on the plan you both developed in the compromise step. Go on the date that is blended of your two styles!
Does it work? Yes? No? Don’t forget to check in with your partner. See how they felt about your new date night. What was missing? What worked? What didn’t?
Question prompts for this step:
- What was your favorite thing about ______?
- When ____ was happening did you have any moments of frustration or being irritated?
- When ________ was happening did you have any positive moments that surprised you?
- For this situation in the future, would you like to do the same thing? What would you change?
Then move forward with any adjustments you both decide on. The more you implement this practice, the more smooth these adjustments will be. Frustrations that once popped up will dissipate as new understanding comes into play.
Let us know if these practices worked for you or if you would like to try these out in a session with me! Reach out to Amy Wine Counseling Center at 832-421-8714 to schedule an appointment. I will be happy to start supporting you and your partner in this journey!