A relationship is not always a rose garden, nor should it be a constant warzone. However, living together creates conflicts. There are many reasons for this such as genetics, hormones and external elements. People do evaluate and interpret events in a different way and they do act accordingly different. Hidden behind any conflict are wishes, expectations and habits that were known by you before or that were hidden in your subconscious mind. You got to know them for sure only when exposed during a conflict.
Differences in personality.
The way you behave when exposed to differences in your needs and those of your partner, and the way you handle a dispute with your partner will define how sane your relationship is. Handling quarrels in the right way is as important as making love in the right way. Both behaviours will show to what extend your partner is respecting you.
Expectations alone are not a cause for conflicts. Only when at least one partner assumes that the other is well aware about the one's expectations, it can come to a conflict. In many cases partners assume that they are on the same wavelength and/or that they know about each other's wishes, but that isn't so. In most cases there is an absolute need to communicate well and clear about one's expectations. This kind of communication has to be learned because due to our education we are not supposed to come out for our wishes, but to accept what's there. This will not last in a relationship between adults. Communicating to our partner about our actual expectations includes the responsibility that we do know what we want and that we can clearly transmit that knowledge to our beloved one. Misunderstandings will lead to disappointment, frustration and even anger. Don't forget that women and men do communicate and interpret differently. Women mostly are very cautious in their emotional communication to men which makes men think women are unclear or even talking in mysteries.
Conflicting expectations regularly are the result of individual interpretations of rules, agreements, promises and commitments. Each individual has his/her own scale about any lifestyle component like mind, emotions, soul, character, preferences, etc. All these elements and many more do change in importance over time - in us, but also in our partner - due to age, experience, priorities and so on. These dynamic elements make it a delicate art to keep tuned in sufficiently well with your partner over time. When partners differ too much in lifestyle or when they develop in different directions, then the relationship comes under pressure, especially when there is no constructive communication about the conflicting elements. Both partners risk to feel dissatisfied and will start to isolate themselves. Alienation becomes inevitable.
Major differences, even in relatively less important elements such as orderliness, trusting, biorhythm, mental flexibility, easy-going, planning, etc. can lead to significant frustration and finally to separation. A major question one should ask oneself is if in daily conditions there is a feeling that one's own personality is regularly cut off or if one gets the feeling that in the majority of the occasion’s one really can be how he/she really is. Those observations or questions are not on the agenda when starting a relationship because we all know that then other priorities prevail. But everybody in a serous relationship will face one day the inevitable question: "If I want to live together with my partner in harmony, I have to evaluate his/her daily lifestyle, compare it with mine, and find out if they are compatible and adjustable. Differences in lifestyle as such are not the issue, but what is are the amount of differences and the way we handle them between partners. It's like salt in a dish: a pinch of it will enrich the flavour; too much will kill any dish. The poison lays in the dose. In other words can we most of the times keep our daily lifestyle as we enjoy it today and do we both want to adjust the differences and look at them as a mutual enrichment?"
Are you there when I need you?
We are spoilt. Not only do we expect that most of our wishes become true, we even think that this is our right. Only when we are confronted with heavy setbacks, we tend to appreciate life as such; the daily little pleasures that sum up to quality of life. Many relationships end when being confronted with setbacks due to lack of team spirit. Scientists figured out that all changes - including positive ones - do create stress. So do miscarriage, resignation, illness, burglary, severe financial setback, marriage, moving, promotion, etc create measurable amounts of stress.
Every person has not only his/her own way of dealing with stress, but also his/her own speed of dealing with it. Significant differences in this can lead to extra stress and major misinterpretations. The one with a higher speed might see the one with the lower speed as somebody with self compassion and the one with the lower speed might look at the one with the higher speed as superficial. Major differences between partners in dealing with stress or challenging events can lead to alienation during the stressful period and even to a breach after that. How many times did we witness partners separating after the construction of their "dream home" was finished?
A happy relationship is not the result of what you do but of how you feel what you can do. Most breakups are the painful result due lack of being oneself. And even this oneself will change over time, due to experiences and our hormonal housekeeping. A flexible partner will be able to accommodate with this, a rigid one will become annoyed. A sustainable relationship is an ongoing experiment in which major parameters constantly are changing so that the outcome becomes regularly unpredictable. If it were different, it would be boring, wouldn't it?
Buddha: "In the deepest of their hearts, people want to be understood and cherished."
Prof Munnichs: "When people get older, they stay the same. They only get worse."
Partnership: "The appreciation of and joy about what we receive from our partner and the acceptance of and resignation about what our partner cannot give to us." (Judith Viorst, 2003)
When a man gets older, he discovers: "Aha, there also are other people!"
When a woman gets older, she discovers: "Aha, I am also here!"
Reinhold Nibuhr (1892-1971):
"Lord, give me the power to change what I can change,
the resignation to accept what I cannot change,
and the wisdom to make the difference between both."