It doesn’t take long in couples therapy to come across couples where the partners have a different style from one another in one or more areas. It is probably something that is true for all couples: there are areas where their style of doing something is different than the partner’s. Some examples that often come up: different ways of dealing with time, different styles with spending and/or saving, differences in seeing what work needs to be done around the house (inside the house, also outside the house), differences in time spent with extended family (parents, siblings and such), etc. So first of all, realize that you will be in a normal situation when the two of you have some differences in style in an area or two (or three). You don’t need to panic or fear the relationship is over because you have different styles about one or more issues.
A major task of couples counseling is to help the partners move down into what their values are that are under the differences in style. Because this is a style, it is probably long standing, and you probably believe your are right about it, and you probably believe that your partner should change. And that is ok. But it is also very highly likely that your partner believes the same things about his/her style. My job, most of the time, is to help the couple to see how they both are (or feel) right, that their style or way of doing things is the right way. And when both feel their style/way is the right way, they often move into telling the other one to change and how they are wrong.
If you came into a relationship and you think the other person is the one that should change, that is fine, as long as the other person does that without resentment. Most relationships that seek out couples therapy, however, have a balance where they are more or less sharing in their values and styles. It is absolutely ok (and can be a good thing to do) to talk about what you would like your partner to change, both inside and outside couples therapy. And if you are going to do that, then your partner should be able to do the same, right? So things begin to move from “I’m right” to “we both feel like we are right.” And that is a place where couples often need help. What to do when you are both right. More on that next time. But realize that if you can move from “my way is right” in your mind to “we are different about this” and “we are both right” you have made significant progress.
Dr. Kraft has over three decades of counseling experience, more than 25 of those as a practicing therapist in Omaha. Beyond this experience, he’s also continued his education through workshops and conferences to keep up with the best research and therapeutic methods. A recognized expert in his field, he teaches seminars to marriage counseling professionals.
Dr. Kraft earned his doctorate, as well as his bachelors & masters before that, from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. On top of being a therapist in Omaha, he is an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Creighton University School of Medicine, where he teaches residents about psychotherapy, and attends ongoing training to stay current in the field.