The Blessing of Being Different
We didn\’t get married eighteen years ago. Jim had been married twice
before and this was Judith\’s first walk down the aisle. While we loved
each other in ways we couldn\’t even explain, we also knew that our
differences were a major challenge.
Each of us is opinionated, head strong, known to get defensive, and
more often than we\’d like to have admitted back when we were first
married, downright stubborn. So our irritation and anger at each other
over the big and little differences that cropped up most every day had
to be dealt with or we would be one of those couples claiming
“irreconcilable differences” in divorce court. And that, we agreed, was
out of the question.
Meant To Be Together
We knew we were meant to be together. But how were we going to deal with all the ways we were so different from each other?
Before we married we talked about the issue of our differences many
times. And in our wedding vows we made sure to commit to resolving
conflicts in ways that would honor each other\’s differences. That was
all fine and good.
But we still kept getting into arguments and fights about dumb stuff
like Jim leaving the kitchen towel in the television room after he\’d
taken it there along with a snack. Later Judith would be cooking and .
. . the towel would be gone. Or Jim would get really upset when Judith
walked into his office and interrupted to ask him what seemed like a
trivial question while he was working in his computer. Jim couldn\’t
believe Judith could be so inconsiderate and self-centered. And Judith
couldn\’t believe Jim could be so inconsiderate and self-centered.
Oh sure, we came up with “rules” and “policies” meant to organize our behavior and that helped to some degree.
But it wasn\’t until we started to study the issue of differences for
the relationship workshops we began to give and the book we started to
write, that we arrived at the spiritual truth that helped us the most.
The Spiritual Truth About Differences
The fact is, each of us was created to be different.
One-of-a-kind for all time. There has never before been another person
just like Jim, or just like Judith. Or just like you. And there never
ever will be. And that goes for every person, every animal, every thing
on this planet.
When we took that in, really took it in that we weren\’t supposed to be
alike, and that differences between two people in relationship are
there as crucially important spiritual challenges, then we were able to
open ourselves to each other in nearly miraculous ways.
For example, at first it drove Judith crazy that Jim admired
mountains and cloud formations while he was driving. Judith wanted to
feel safe and that meant eyes on the road at all times. As she eased
off of her one-sided perspective to embrace the miracle of who Jim
really is, she could see that Jim\’s ability to drive safely and still
look around was not the issue. It was her own separation from nature
that was being challenged by Jim\’s differing manner of relating to the
world around him.
Little by little Judith realized that Jim\’s ability to rejoice in nature was a gift from
the Universe sent to help her open up to the natural bounty
beyond her fear. Now, years later, it\’s just as likely that Judith will
point out to Jim the sunset or the glorious weeping willow by the
Likewise Jim, who\’d never used an appointment book before meeting
Judith, and who would get annoyed at her list making, daily planning,
and what felt like micro-managing everything, now relies on the daily
planner as much as Judith.
Conflicts Are Necessary Teachers
We could go on and on with examples of how conflicts spurred us
to realize that changes were necessary to help our relationship grow
stronger. They weren\’t dangerous, those conflicts, unless we prized our
own ways more than we would allow love to lead us in the better
Now when we get in a fight, and yes, it still happens though not nearly
as often and the brouhahas don\’t last nearly as long as when we were
first together, we know it\’s time to examine some entrenched beliefs or
behaviors that are causing us trouble. We know it\’s time to grow
personally and to grow in our ability to love each other.
We are different from each other because of the higher purpose for our
lives. After all, how else can we learn what it actually means to love
someone “for better or worse?” unless we are challenged by the
difficulties that are a natural part of being with another person?
That\’s how we came to see that our differences are a daily workshop for
overcoming our fantasies about love, fantasies about how the other
person “should be,” and fantasies about how we ourselves should be.
Year after year we see ourselves growing further and further away from
the self-centered notion that the other person should behave, think, or
feel “the right way,” — “my way.” Year after year our love grows
stronger, richer, more expansive as we embrace each other\’s differing
ways as being magical, spiritual gifts from the Universe.