You two “get” each other.
You finally found the partner who makes your heart sing! While there are some differences, your vision for life together won out. It’s 2020 and things like race, religion, socioeconomic backgrounds shouldn’t dictate love anymore – right? Aren’t these just archaic constructs designed to keep people separate?
And yet you keep bumping into each other, or your partner’s family, because of these differences – and you need help. In fact, it is starting to feel like you may not make it through this “to death do us part” commitment.
Scenario One: Rough Crowd
You’re tired of how your partner’s family and friends treat you. Second class, judging, distancing, or sometimes being plain mean. You’re trying your hardest to connect with them, to extend grace, to take the feedback from your partner’s parents – and yet it doesn’t seem to be panning out.
You still find yourself sitting at the end of the table alone or missing invites to family get-togethers. At first it didn’t impact your relationship, but now it’s starting to take a toll. Your partner doesn’t want to see you struggle and yet didn’t realize it might come to boycotting family.
Scenario Two: Who’s Reality Wins?
You love your partner, yet you two see things SO differently. Lately it’s felt like you are on the warpath for each other, rather than iron-sharpening-iron and making something amazing from the different perspectives.
You are having a tough time deciding things about your careers, home life, free time, raising children – you name it. Whenever you bring something up, like wanting to go back to school, you notice your partner gets quiet and pulls away, or goes on and on about how you shouldn’t have to work now. So, who’s reality wins?
“Loving is not just looking at each other; it’s looking in the same direction.”
~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
Iron Sharpening Iron
Love is a funny thing; it sees past our differences and opens up pathways to connection that many wouldn’t dare tread without it. We are all trying to make sense of the world and to get our needs met in relationships – especially our romantic partner! I get it.
When my husband and I met, we could check off numerous inter-boxes: race, faith, socioeconomic status, immigration status, and education. On our second date, we discussed our racial differences and what this meant to each of us. Little did we know that vulnerable hike was a precursor for many more to come.
Having spent years exploring the ways we relate to our Otherness through a Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy, I had the opportunity to wake up to the power of privileges, how we hurt those we love without meaning to, and how we can make room for each other’s unique identity and values at the table of life.
We can become our partner’s greatest ally.
Through the work I do with couples, I first work with acknowledging the baseline. What’s working, not working, and how responsible are each of you being in respect to voicing your own and hearing your partner’s needs?
Nothing changes unless we are willing to see how we might be getting in each other’s way.
We then work to assess the unique needs of each partner, as well as the couple-ship. Like a garden, your relationship has needs and, depending on the intensity of stress, may need major tending.
I will work with you to start to attune to your partner’s world and how to name what’s going on inside you in a way that will help them better understand you.
Often the hurts and distress come from differences in values.
With the guidance and support of an experienced couples therapist, you will learn how to work through the gridlock that comes with differing values. You will learn ways to address your family and friends in a responsible and gracious way. This may involve setting up healthy boundaries.
Each couple is unique. Yet at the end of the day with intentional focus on a shared vision and taking committed action toward your shared values, you two can go to sleep at night knowing there is nowhere else you’d rather be.
Step into action FOR your future together. Call today to learn how you can shift to a partnership where iron sharpens iron!