Advice: We have different beliefs

16:00, Oct 24 2012

She's found a great man - intelligent, affectionate and adventurous. But he's also a little conservative and they often end up arguing into the wee small hours of the morning.

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I have a problem that's really quite trivial compared to many of the serious issues raised on this column and I hope you don't feel like I'm wasting your time sending it in - but I am really struggling with this issue at the moment.

I met a new partner about a year ago after spending a bit of time single. He's a very interesting and intelligent person, he's affectionate, adventurous, great at looking after me if I'm ill or out of sorts and best of all we share a deep passion for wilderness and wildlife which has meant we've had some fantastic holidays together in some amazing places.

But we have the most awful ideological clashes which mean we can argue a topic sometimes until the early hours of the morning without getting anywhere and which have the potential to destroy what should be great times spent together through us both getting passionately upset about some abstract thing on which we cannot agree!

Mostly it's just frustrating and temporary- he seems to get over these fights very quickly and thinks it's not much to worry about. But sometimes I get really upset, and sometimes I wonder if it is a deal-breaker. Especially when we end up disagreeing on something which is central to my outlook in life (I'm very liberal and he's quite conservative, so these things can get very heated).


Is this really a deal breaker or am I just overreacting? Is it time I hardened up and said goodbye because these fights will continue to erode the relationship and my respect for him? Or is it worth taking the time and seeing if we can both just mellow out a bit in our strongly held opinions and ideologies? I wouldn't want to throw away a good thing through acting like a passionate and idealistic teenager (I'm 30), but I am starting to worry that we are just incompatible. Any thoughts are appreciated.


Dear Uncertain

Any issue that leaves you questioning the future of a relationship is not trivial and is worth addressing!  You are at the stage in a relationship where you are still discovering a lot about each other and as time goes on there is also more likely to be 'testing' of how compatible or connected you can be. 

You clearly know how to have fun together, and have experienced your partner's ability to care for you and show compassion.  With such a good connection I imagine you could pose the same questions to your partner that you are asking here. 

It may be worth considering some ground rules for your clashes and having a conversation about why you both get so heated.  Here are some questions you could ask yourself, or share with him:

- Are you trying to convert each other to your own belief systems?
- How important is it for you that your partner shares your opinions?
- Do you think these different beliefs will mean you have to change the way you live your life?
- Do you feel respected in the clashes, or are some of the comments more personally attacking?
- Are you 'testing' your compatibility with each other to see how safe it is to share?
- Is drinking or drug taking involved in the clashes going on so long?
- Does it make a difference if you are looking ahead to a long term relationship - would there have to be more compromise?

Healthy debates can be stimulating and differences can help us grow and develop and it isn't unusual for couples to modify beliefs as time goes on. 

The issue to look out for is more about how respected you each feel in your differences, and how much of the sharing of power and influence there is between you.  Do take time to use your ability as partners to debate this issue!

For more advice and information on counselling, visit Relationships Aotearoa online or join them on Facebook.

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