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Reconcilable Differences
How to live with problems you can never "fix."


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Don't let the things you can't change ruin your marriage


Many challenges in a marriage can never be resolved, no matter how much therapy is involved or how many lengthy sit-down discussions are had to hash out the issues. There are simply problems in every relationship that must be accepted and dealt with, such as personality conflicts caused by inherent facets of your spouseís innate behavior.

Once the nature of these gridlocked conflicts are understood, they can be easier to cope with in the marriage and can actually draw a couple closer when they are able to understand their spouse's differences and stressors.

Remember, the first part of falling in love is finding someone who completes and meshes with you; someone who fills in the gaps, and who seems to be a good match in viewing the world and dealing with conflict. The second part of falling in love is realizing that it is the differences between the two of you that make you strong as a couple.

For instance, what if one of the primary things that you find attractive in your mate is also something that conflicts with your own inner drives? Even if you were able to "fix" the problem, you would then lose the person you love and you would be stuck with someone you didnít even recognize.

Some examples of common "irresolvables" include: different sex drives, different attitudes toward raising children, different feelings about in-laws, different ways of arguing, and different ideas about politics and religion. Additionally, different ways of coping with stress can become a source of tension; one person may explode, while another may close off. One person may crave resolution and conversation about a problem, while another might prefer to just let things be.

Finding the differences can be a simple matter of testing for them. No one can tell you who to love or why. A personality test, for example, can tell you what stressors, fears, coping mechanisms, desires, and frustrations you are likely to have and how they will mesh with your spouse. Cognitive psychology is pragmatic in ways that therapy is not. Some things just wonít ever change.

To the extent that you are willing to understand your psyche and see yourself from the outside is the extent to which you can see these irresolvable problems with grace and humor and work toward living with them.

Taking over for her father, Dr. Roger Birkman, in 2001, Sharon Birkman Fink is President and CEO of Birkman International, Inc. providing a unique assessment tool that accurately measures internal needs, behaviors, occupational preferences and organizational strengths. She can be reached at 713-623-2760 or sfink@birkman.com


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Over 1 million couples turn to Hitched for expert marital advice every year. Sign up now for our newsletter & get exclusive weekly content that will entertain, educate and inspire your marriage.



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