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   Home  > Articles

First Aid for Marriage

By Eric Bird of Family College for Marriage Resource

Different is not necessarily wrong

We naturally think that the way we do things is right and if someone else does it differently, this is wrong. Of course some things are right or wrong, but others are just different. Opposites may attract - but can they live together? In the closeness of living together the differences seem to get larger.

There are three major areas where differences are not wrong, bur where they are not always easy to handle.

Differences of personality type :

Introverts and extroverts frequently find each other attractive, each seeming to supply something they see as lacking in themselves. This is fine except that they will often want to do different things. One likes to be surrounded by people, whilst the other likes plenty of personal space. It is all too easy to see the other as being wrong, when they may simply be different. There are many other personality differences for example (morning person or evening person) which whilst not being a question of right or wrong are certainly real differences.

Differences of background:

What kind of role models did their parents give them. Children react in different ways to role models - either they copy them, and become like their parents or rebel against them, determined to be different. Either way the influence is very strong. Here are four typical parental role models:-

  • Easy going Mother / Bossy Father
  • Easy going Father / Bossy Mother
  • Two separate people living under one roof.
  • A partnership of mutual support.

Also minor issues cause problems. Because things were done at home in a particular way in the past, we assume that this was right. For example - is it the man's or the woman's job to put out the refuse bin? Or, should the pots be dried or left to drain on the rack?

Differences between the sexes :

There are plenty of books, two of which are listed at the end of this article, on this subject('Men are from Mars; Women are from Venus' and 'You just don't understand'. We know we are equal, but equal does not mean the same!

A few examples:-

  • In general rule women express their feelings easily within a relationship, whilst men are more likely to hide emotion. Men are therefore less likely to acknowledge problems at the outset.
  • As a rule women are more interested in people and men in things.
  • It has often been said that women can do several things at once, whereas men focus on the task in hand.

Of course, there are exceptions, but in general such things hold.

The problem with most of these things is that they can't be changed. "Who does what" type of disputes can be sorted out by the couple themselves, if they are willing to listen to each other, but the more important differences will remain.

All you can do is to try to help them to see the differences in each other, and where change is unlikely or impossible, to accept that that is the way it is. To be different is not to be wrong. And "equal" does not mean "the same".

Where are they coming from, and where do they want to go?

Handling conflict


In this article
- Can I really help?
- What is expected of me?
- Try to avoid taking sides
- Listening
- Where are they coming from, and where do they want to go?
- Different is not necessarily wrong
- Handling conflict
- Life events
- Intimacy
- What next?
- A special kind of help

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