My boyfriend and I are incredibly analytical about our relationship. This is my boyfriend’s first serious relationship whilst I have two long-term relationships behind me to compare with. He, therefore, often makes observations about us which we then proceed to discuss. Yesterday, on our one-year-anniversary, he confided that based on movies and what he knew from other couples, he had thought we’d have fought a whole lot more throughout an entire year of being together.
We both squinted off into the distance rummaging through the clutter in our minds trying to recollect the last time we’d actually had a real argument. We hadn’t really. We disagreed on many things but our mutual understanding and ‘agree to disagree’ attitudes meant that we always somehow met in the middle or had a laugh fest about it. “How were we so perfect?”, we asked ourselves. My attempts at answering this question were concluded with these three ‘red flags’.
We’re Polar Opposites
He’s kind and caring, I’m more cut-throat. He’s a hard worker, I prefer to work smart. He doesn’t agree with that but we laugh it off. He shakes his head and gives me a wink. We seem to be able to get past anything with a simple childlike infatuated glance. That’s a quality that overrides any significant differences. We both value being successful. We both want intense careers, a happy marriage, and two children. All our end goals are the same, but our means of getting there are completely contrasting. Do we mind, however? Shockingly, absolutely not.
We engage in the most thought-provoking discussions in regards to our differing morals and views. We speak in jest about our future son coming to us with a problem concerning another pupil at school. We predict each other’s advice without the need for thought. Mother transcribing the ‘eye for an eye’ law of retaliation whilst Father telling him to be the bigger person and move on. I guess our little one will be a pretty open-minded kid from an early age.
These consistently opposing views intellectually stimulate us, which is something that I greatly value. We teach each other to look at things from the perspective of the other. We never take each other too seriously and with the patience that we offer each other, there is time and attention to speak, be heard, and understood. There isn’t a necessity to agree — our aim is to simply understand. That’s where we hold value. That underlying understanding means that although we have pretty much totally opposing views in regards to any moral discussion, it’s a safe space. We love and respect each other’s rare qualities even when we don’t agree with them which is a special kind of magic to have.
There’s a perfect balance of traits and values. I offer him a light-hearted approach to things that he treats immensely seriously. He provides me with stability and level-headedness that I don’t naturally have in my spontaneous disorganized mind. We meet in a beautiful middle whilst retaining our personal quirks.
It can be easily terrifying to read articles that conjure up horrific images of the future that lies ahead for couples who have clashing views. Most immediately interpreting these differences as ‘red flags’. However, with enough maturity and respect, you can turn this into your unique advantage. Using the sandpaper of your respective conflicted views to mold you into two incredibly well-rounded individuals.
So, contrary to popular belief, your relationship isn’t doomed if you don’t vote for the same party. Find a mutual language to identify the common values the both of you have and dedicate time to understand how you deliver them in different ways. We’re all humans and we all mostly want the same things, we just use different wrapping paper. The differences between your partner’s views and your own are most likely not that different at all. What a boring world it would be if we were to all be similar. And what a boring relationship it would be if you silently nodded along with limitless glee as a response to every decision your spouse made!
Our Love Languages Are Completely Different
When you Google this ‘issue’, many articles come up with tips and tricks on how to ‘cope’. To me, this is absurd. I think this is one of the most beneficial things about my relationship.
My boyfriend is very much an Acts Of Service type of guy. I’m very much a Words Of Affirmation kind of woman. He smiles at me as I shower him with words of how insanely gorgeous and loving he is and how I could cry thinking about the capacity of love I have for him. Then he turns right around and goes and cooks a meal for me or cleans the drain from all the hair that I deposit during my showers. All things that I appreciate of course and work perfectly for my hate-cooking-and-cleaning-self.
According to Bustle, ‘how we display our love to our partner and how we receive their displays of love to us might be totally different. So different, that it can create tension’. I couldn’t disagree more, based off of the effortless manner in which my partner and I go about our relationship accepting and giving out what we please. I can’t help but think about the clashes of matching love languages. Is this what PDA couples are born out of? Are two people obsessed with Physical Touch what produces those who don’t let go of each other on the street? The ones whose tonsils get more attention than cars on the street?
At the beginning of our relationship, my boyfriend felt guilty that he wasn’t reciprocating the compliment showers that I frequently gifted him with. I saw the tension in his jaw and the desperation in his eyes when he attempted to call me beautiful, perfect, and smart just as I do to him daily. It felt so ungodly unnatural that I couldn’t help letting out a loud snort. He proceeded to question what was so funny and I responded by asking him just how painful that was to get out. He was bewildered that I could tell how conscious of a choice that endearingly cute charade was. Long story short, we vowed he’d never try that again. Similar to my cooking.
My happiness stems from his happiness and comfort. The way he expresses his love for me, whichever way he chooses, is one I’ll accept and cherish. Expressing ourselves in our most natural and authentic ways is enough to keep a thriving and happy household in a constant state of contentment.
Giving and receiving love are two very different things. People’s cultures and individual experiences shape them in different ways. Why are humans so quick to rationalize and calculate humanity? Sometimes, pure happiness is worth more than an even equation with a healthy sum stemming from a professional’s transcription of human emotion.
Learn your partner’s ways of expressing love and if you’re confused about it then open it up for discussion. When you come to understand how they show their love, your mind will begin trickling in memories from the past where they did exactly that and it went unnoticed. Love is simpler than we think.
We’re Both Stubborn
Being stubborn is a quality that many old relatives always told me wouldn’t work in the long-run. I’m not talking about the stubbornness of who will wash the dishes after dinner tonight. If two individuals are stubborn in their motivation to succeed, stubborn in their willingness to never give up, and stubborn in the confidence of their decisions, it creates a pretty unstoppable pairing. Two very strong characters with unapologetic ambition. This can seem like an almost impossible situation of an environment for a relationship to thrive in but it isn’t.
The more alike you are in character, passion, and will, the more you respect others doing the same. My extreme passion for productivity and workaholism creates a desire for simultaneous energy, one that can ‘keep up’. If my partner was a painter and refused to put down his brush until he was satisfied with his painting, it would relate to my stubbornness to never stop typing until my article was completed. His determination, therefore, inspiring me further. There is always a way to transform a perceived weakness into a strength. Our mutual stubbornness creates an understanding which eradicates any resentment. Instead, we use it to our advantage.
Being stubborn also doesn’t take compromise off of the table. Somehow, the two are seen as being mutually exclusive. We’re all reasonable adults and there is a limit and extent to everything. We can try to convince each other as much as we can but when time ripens, decisions must be made. In a mature relationship, we’d hope this doesn’t result in one party’s victory and the others sulking.
If you or your partner have a great amount of a similar trait and you feel yourselves clashing because of it — turn it into fuel. You have a home full of that energy, why not turn it into a powerhouse!
If I’d read and believed all the hundreds of possible red flags in relationships, I’d be wary of everyone I meet. The only way to create a strong and long-lasting relationship is to decide that there are positives within everything and what may not work for others sure as hell can work for you. Love isn’t mathematical and there has never been a combination such as you and your partner. Make history!
This post was previously published on Medium.com.
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project and want a deeper connection with our community, please join us as a Premium Member, today.
All Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS. Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.