Do you want your relationship to flourish? Do you dream of that life-long romance that weathers all obstacles? Can you love unconditionally?

The first step to that enduring union is to accept your differences.

Through many discussions with my clients about the issues they deal with in their own relationships, I’ve come to the conclusion that that one of the most challenging aspects of a relationship is being able to accept differences between you and your partner. It seems we expect our soulmate to think and feel the way that we do on every topic. Objectively, we can understand that this is an unrealistic expectation (and would be very boring), but we still cling to the idea.

Relationships are one of life’s greatest opportunities for growth. Our interactions act as a mirror, reflecting back to us our own qualities (both good and bad) and our unhealthy behaviors. This is the perfect environment for growth and acceptance- a prime environment for us to overcome our idiosyncrasies and personal biases to take on a more accepting and big-picture perspective. The reality, however, is that it often quite difficult to accept the idea we are not perfect and that our behavior in a relationship is not always healthy. It is too easy to blame the other person and point out his/her bad traits as being the destructive force in the relationship. It’s just too painful to admit to ourselves that we are often our own worst enemy, and our own baggage of hurt and disappointment is affecting our ability to love unconditionally.

It is wise to remember that the way you think things should be done, is just your opinion, and it is one of an infinite number of opinions on the subject. Your opinion is not right or wrong, it is just your opinion, and if you understand that the opinion of another is just as valid as yours, you are on your way to a real understanding of your partner, yourself, and your relationship.

Don’t seek a carbon copy of yourself, seek understanding and acceptance. Both you and your relationships will flourish.