There is Hope for Your Marriage: Using the Differences as Opportunities to Grow
Traditionally, when couples fight, have misunderstandings, discover a lack of things in common, or confront the challenge of incompatibility, their first instinct is to flee while rationalizing to themselves “this will never work, we’re just too different.” In The New Intimacy, Judith and Jim present a stark contrast to that perspective, illuminating that it’s within the depths of those very differences where the most profound potential for real love lies, waiting to be awakened.
With commitment, courage, and the willingness to exchange stale, unconscious behavior patterns for fresh, healthy choices, you can learn how to transform the differences into catalysts for growth, instead of fodder for heartache. Based on the principles of The New Intimacy differences between partners can make lovers out of adversaries.
“Conscious Creativity” — a nine step process to working through conflict rather than running away from it – is one of the techniques Judith and Jim advise practicing. Your goal is to co-create and discover a new way of being together, a resolution that satisfies both of you. Therefore, each of you need to speak your half of the problem and listen respectfully and with genuine curiosity to your partner’s point of view.
- Define the issue – truthfully express what is disturbing you in as much detail as possible.
- Feel your feelings – experience and communicate your feelings as honestly and openly as you can in the moment you are feeling them.
- Remember that you care – keep in mind that ongoing relationships are a mosaic made up of many facets, and there is more to your partner and your relationship than any one issue.
- Beware of self-sabotage – stay aware of what’s going on inside you during a rough spot in the relationship, don’t allow old negative behavior patterns to swamp the present moment.
- Change your mind – open yourself to the fact that any issue can be understood and interpreted in a variety of ways, otherwise you’ll continue to stay in a rut and progressively dig the hole deeper with every conflict.
- Take personal responsibility – ask yourself in what way or ways do you contribute to the situation that upsets you. Rarely if ever in an ongoing relationship does a difficulty arise that has not been contributed to by both partners.
- Remember that your partner is not you – learn to internalize and understand that your partner is not you. Your resolutions will be respectful of your differences only when you both find ways to empathize with the other’s point of view.
- Be consciously creative – hold the other in your consciousness as you want to be held. Appreciate and value the other’s experience in the ways that it is different from yours.
- Seek both/ and solutions – as you seek a resolution, remember that you are two different people, and the resolution needs to reveal not an either/ or but a both/ and quality. Resolutions aren’t about winning, they’re about a process of respect and intimacy, growth and emergence.
Guard against the very dangerous belief that if you’re having difficulty with your partner, that means your relationship is in trouble. More than likely it means your relationship needs a tune-up and an oil change. Only in romantic fantasy does everything go smoothly without attention, care and change.