Differences. How to love each other. How often to have sex. How to fry an egg.
Differences between any two people are inevitable. Before getting married, most of us rule out the big ones, like political and religious differences. Most of us talk through our desires on having children or where to live. But once two lives are woven together, it’s the small differences, those typically overlooked in the vetting process, that can have the biggest impact on our quality of life together.
Marriages bring out the many little differences in how we walk through the world: how we make daily micro-decisions, how we think (impulsive vs. methodical), how we relate to time (punctual vs. chronically late), and how we organize our environment (disordered vs. compartmentalized).
All of these idiosyncrasies can create a constant chafing, making a marriage feel like an ongoing battle for “how to do” everything. I can learn a lot from a couple by asking who does the dishes. Early on, power struggles show up in the kitchen and negative narratives about the other begin---‘she’s obsessed with the house and doesn’t want to have fun’ or ‘he’s lazy.’
However, differences can be managed in a way that creates harmony. They don’t need to become a threat to your coexistence, in fact, they can be naturally absorbed into your daily life together if you have a process for working with them. Each difference, no matter how large or small, can be brought to the table for a negotiation. Here’s are the 7 steps to easing marital discord:
Installing a negotiation ritual into your marriage is empowering; it takes you out of the blaming, complaining victim position into a creative role that ensures your voice is heard. Further, the radical honesty involved in this process will ultimately create a sense of authenticity and freedom. Successful couples bring an attitude of respect, openness to difference and even humor.
Dr. Engler's Articles on the Huffington Post:
Should You Get Pre-marital Counseling?
Women's Health Magazine interviews Dr. Engler on the factors to consider.
Why Moving in Together Kills Your Sex Life, and What to Do About It.
Men's Health Magazine interviews Dr. Engler about how to improve your sex life, and reviews her book, "The Men on My Couch."
11 Things That Actually Surprised This Sex Therapist.
BuzzFeed reviews Dr. Engler's new book, "The Women on My Couch."