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Differences of Opinion with a Loved One
by Dr. Dale V. Atkins, August 2011

Few people are whom we would like them to be. If we could all create the personalities that would go smoothly with our own we might have an easier time, in the day to day. But would we be content?

Life may be less volatile and with fewer conflicts, and that could be good for one's blood pressure, but is it better for one's overall health? In some situations, definitely yes. In others, well, perhaps learning to listen empathetically, letting go of a need to control, manipulate, or influence toward a particular outcome, is a better route so that two people who don't agree can still live together respectfully and share their independent views.

If these people were exactly as we wish they would be, for certain, we would miss the opportunity to see the world through the eyes of someone we care about. But generally, we are not interested in seeing the world through their eyes. We want them the see the world through our eyes, and not make trouble. We want them to just go along without challenging us.

Boring, yes. Unexciting, yes. Less stressful? Perhaps. Living with and / or loving someone whose view of the world or other people is so different from your own can be a significant challenge. A sense of humor helps. Avoiding topics that are mine fields helps sometimes but then, over time, there amass a significant number of topics to avoid and one's conversations become dialogues on a series of edited, pre-scripted, safe topics.

Instead of providing comfort or a safe haven for one another, expressing an opinion about politics, children, grandchildren, in-laws, is a call to arms (and not the hugging kind). One partner sees his or her role as convincing the other to change their opinion about the issue or person rather than just allowing their partner to vent, express disappointment, anger, hurt, or whatever feeling they have. For the partner, it is just too painful to see the person they care about moving in a direction of separating themselves from a family member.

Be open to the endless possibilities for growth and appreciation.

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