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Embracing Differences, Yet-Remaining Connected.

We who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Romans 15:1

Often as we find ourselves at odds with our partner, spouse, or mate-we will either disconnect and isolate from them-or engage them as if they are an enemy. Man and woman think differently. Each individual processes information from their own style of learning, from their own history of experiences, and with their own personality tendency. When they are together with another person who has a different story, back ground, core beliefs, and understanding then one or both may discount the other's way of processing. If we avoid or are aggressive-then it is likely that the emotional boundaries will be subject to violation.

For an example: When there is a conflict, one party may rush through, find their answer; act upon it, and then move on. The other party may need to research all of the options first and then to consider the consequences prior to being able to make a decision. Another may be one that procrastinates, putting off any decisions if they have time to do so; and when either of these are in a couple forum-then there is likely to be conflict between the two. One may tell the other to hurry up and become frustrated; the other may tell the one in a hurry that they are fool-hearted. A person who likes to get their work done and prioritizes will find the procrastinator very difficult to live with.

It therefore will be a challenge for both to fight any impulse from within or seek pressure from outside against our spouse or mate. We must NOT discount the other's emotions or strategy. This impatience only adds to the stress for the other and would also stress the relationship. We therefore need to fight the temptation to discount them or their ways. There is a reason why men and women were created so differently. These differences-when embraced can actually aid in making better decisions as both place their ideas upon the table for consideration. When both are respected and factored; then better choices are cultivated.

If you tend to isolate or avoid conflict then please resist the temptation to pull away or to walk away. In doing this then we seem to withdraw for out loved one while he or she is having a difficult time with the conflict at hand, and may feel rejected. It would be more difficult for them to hang in there-and feel secure if they felt as if they were not good enough or felt ridiculed. It is important then for each to introduce the issue mindfully, and give the other a day to process the issue before bringing it back up. This gives the other person time to reflect and to introspect which may be what they need to do without the pressure to hurry up.

1 Thessalonians 5:8, the scriptures counsels us to give thanks in all things-even when we are suffering, and He is here to helps strengthen us with the knowledge that He is always in control-even when we realize that we have no control. Therefore it is good to respond with grace and encouragement. When you show your mate that you have respect and trust in their ability to help you in any quandary-then they will feel more empowered to walk with you during that trial.

As Dr. Dan Allender would say, "Your spouse is your intimate ally, a burden bearer for a difficult time. As we consider this, then we are reminded that our mate, our spouse-is not our enemy. In fact-he or she is by us to help us navigate this difficult world. Sometimes we forget this and treat each other as if they are against us.

Further, it is wise to speak with a counselor if you and your mate find it difficult to interact with each other instead of going to a colleague, friend (especially if that friend is of an opposite sex), or family member for several judicious reasons:

Including each other and allowing time for their assistance can help us keep connected.

1. Others are adding their own dynamics into the mix that is complicated with two; and are not trained in these issues.

2. It is disrespectful of one's spouse or mate when their mate is speaking negatively about them to others, especially if they know those others. It is important to lift one's mate up when in front of others-not tear them down-and not to gain control.

3. Opposite sexual friends are high risk when a marriage or couple is in trouble. Feelings can grow for that friend; information that is shared is often inappropriate and can increase an attraction between the two which adds another very serious conflict with the marriage or couple relationship.

We advise for each of you to sit down and to share how you process challenges and difficulties and why; and then share what you and they need from each other so as to process issues more easily-without giving judgment.

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