Singaporebrides | Weddings 101

July 2015

Are We Too Different?

At the wedding planning stage, couples are faced with many big decisions about their new home, finances, and family relationships. If you’re arguing often and can’t seem to see why your partner thinks the way he or she does, you might be wondering if you’re simply too different to make it work. But here’s why you should think twice about calling it quits.

Marriage is a coming together of two unique individuals with different personalities. It might be hard to imagine how a husband who loves the thrill of never knowing what’s going to happen next can agree on a tour itinerary with a wife who likes to methodically plan every last detail. Or why someone would get upset over a surprise public proposal when her partner has put so much effort into inviting every last one of her friends and family. But it is possible for two people who think differently, feel differently, and experience the world differently, to do life together day after day, without tearing each other apart.

Why are we fighting?

Of course, arguments are part and parcel of a relationship, but here’s how you can reduce them. While each person may have a different way of understanding and reacting to situations, marriage counsellors suggest that simply understanding how you yourself and your partner see things will help keep a relationship strong. Often, marriage preparation courses invite couples to take a couple personality test, not to see if they are compatible, but to help couples understand each other’s thought processes, inclinations, and reasons behind their behaviour. For example, the partner who arranged a public proposal may have done so because to his extroverted personality, events are made all the better with friends, while she may feel embarrassed to be at the centre of so much attention.

Couple personaliy differences Moody and Dreamy Engagement Photography captured by AndroidsinBoots (Still + Motion)

We’re two different people

Couples who want to improve their relationship should each spend some time increasing self-awareness. Knowing how you are prone to react to situations, or discovering the reasons behind your feelings, will help you and your partner make decisions or resolve conflict better. Some marriage counsellors recommend personality profiling to help couples achieve greater self-awareness and understanding of their partners, which is why many marriage preparation courses have a personality profiling component along with other helpful discussions on important issues like finances, in-law relationships, and conflict resolution that promote better communication and relationship. The Ministry of Social and Family Development provides a list of marriage preparation programmes that are eligible for a $70 rebate.

Lutheran Community Care Services offers such a marriage preparation course with a personality profiling component. “Personality profiling helps couples to develop greater self-awareness and understand their partners better,” they say. “Self-awareness helps a couple build a stronger relationship as we understand what our preferred modes of functioning are in terms of four key areas: where we focus our attention on and draw our energy from; how we receive and process information; how we make decisions, and how we orient ourselves to the external world.” Being aware of the different ways individuals process the world helps couples to understand and accept their differences and empathise with each other. Let each other know the reasoning behind your decisions, and come to an understanding by speaking your partner’s language. For example, if your partner deals mainly with practicalities and facts, don’t try to persuade them to buy a particular property simply because it feels like “The One,” but speak your partner’s language by presenting figures about its financial suitability or information about the good location.

couples personality differences Dramatic Coastal Pre-Wedding Photography at Cape Town, captured by John Lim Photography

Jessica Lamb, psychotherapist, mediator, and founder of Relationship Matters, explains that an individual’s personality affects the way he or she acts in a relationship. “Each one of us is born with a unique personality created by our genetic makeup, and then impacted and developed further by the environment and experiences during our formative years.” To understand the couples she works with, Jessica uses Emergenetics, a personality profiling tool that measures a person’s thinking and behavioural preferences. “Each person’s unique profile will impact the way they communicate, problem-solve, interact with other people, even plan a holiday, as it is influenced by the ways they prefer to think and behave,” she says.

She shares an example: “One partner may think logically and gather facts and data as they process thoughts, while the other partner may think intuitively about ideas and people. So, it is likely that the ways they approach a situation will be very different. The first partner may do a great deal of research and plan a holiday months in advance, while the other partner may not have planned anything, being interested only in being with his or her partner, wherever that is, and doing something out of the ordinary, being spontaneous, and sharing a new experience.” If they do not understand and accept their different ways of doing things, these two partners may well end up fighting throughout the holiday, with one accusing the other of not caring about the trip enough to plan it, and the other resenting the detailed and restricting itinerary.

Jessica also worked with a couple who had a recurring disagreement over his parents moving in with them. Through their personality profiling, Jessica realised that he empathised with people and intuited their needs, thinking into the future and envisaging how he could help, whereas she was logical and rational in her thinking, and was inclined to be fixed and firm when she had made a decision. Through their profiles, it became clear that her concern was about losing intimacy and connection as their privacy would be compromised. It was a lightbulb moment for him as framing her reasons in this way spoke to his empathetic way of thinking.

couple personality differences marriage Jesreen and Karan’s Singapore Celebrations, captured by tinydot photography

Accepting differences

Being aware of your own as well as each other’s way of thinking could help prevent misunderstandings. Jessica says, “These differences in personality and styles of communicating can cause frustration in a relationship as each person finds it hard to understand where the other one is coming from and why they react or behave the way they do. However, when we become aware of our differences and accept them as simply that, we can begin to accept that we don’t need to fight over who is right or wrong, and instead seek to understand that we are each approaching the issue from our own perspective.” While it is important to understand each other’s approach to life, it is more important to accept what you find out, and make efforts to communicate or act in ways that your partner can relate to.

Lutheran Community Care Services says, “Learning about the similarities and differences between ourselves and our partners does not automatically enable us to relate to each other better. The key to relating with one’s partner is ‘Celebrating the similarities and accepting the differences.’ We should conscientiously make adjustments on our part to accept our partners, which will in turn motivate them to make adjustments in the long run.” Not feeling understood is one of the most hurtful things in a relationship. Instead of dismissing your partner’s opinion as stupid or invalid and insisting they change, make it a point to accept your partner’s different ways of seeing or doing things, and open yourself up to a mutually respectful discussion. Lutheran Community Care Services adds, “It helps couples to understand that it is common for couples to have different perspectives of the same issues and it is important that partners “agree to disagree” through mutual respect, empathy, understanding, patience, care, trust, and love.” You don’t need to agree on everything, but do disagree in a kind and mutually respectful way, and remember that it’s more important to accept your partner’s point of view than to be right about your own.

When you have to agree on major decisions, don’t insist on your way, but be open to your partner’s unique perspective, and consider the circumstances in a different light. As Lutheran Community Care Services advises, “In making big decisions, couples should consider the perspectives of each other before arriving at a conclusion in their decision-making. Being able to learn about the perspectives of one’s partners before making big decisions is very valuable.” Your different perspectives on situations could also be very helpful. If you talk through your different views with respect and understanding, you might find that your ways of thinking can complement each other, and you end up making a smarter decision based on one partner’s logical processes and the other partner’s intuition about people.

Lutheran Community Care Services was established in 2002 to serve families, children and youths-at-risk through counselling work, family intervention, life skills workshops and enrichment programmes. They also offer a Marriage Preparation Course. Visit their website at www.lccs.org.sg for more information.

Jessica Lamb is the founder of Relationship Matters, a psychotherapist and mediator and specialises in enabling couples, families and teams to bridge the relationship gap when communication has broken down. Jessica will be running an Emergenetics workshop for couples on Saturday, 5 September 2015, and she is offering SingaporeBrides readers an exclusive $100 discount for each couple who signs up. Quote SingaporeBrides when booking. Contact her at info@relationshipmatters.com.sg or see her website at www.relationshipmatters.com.sg for more information.


Credits: Feature image from Weddings in Pictures: Elegance with a Touch of Vintage, captured by Wishwander Pictures // cropped from original.