Imagine this scenario: Your partner and you have similar temperament. You both like some solitude and time for yourself separately, and then enjoy being with one another and with friends. You are on the same page with political views, religious beliefs, and even follow a vegan diet. Heavenly? Or not?

Personality theories on relationships predicting harmony vary from it being enhanced by similarity or by compatibility. The more similar we are to our partners, the less the conflict. However, one of the glitches in the human mind is that change towards improvement does not come when all is well and trains are running on time. It may be the resistance to change overall that murkies up this picture, but it seems that some form of pain, disagreement, or dissatisfaction is what motivates us to seek a different way of getting along in life and love.

To be clear, I am not advocating that one should be looking to disagree or fight on a daily basis. But when I hear a couple claim that they never fight, my antenna goes up and consistently, you find unexpressed resentments and deep-down anger over things that happened years ago. So acknowledging conflicts opens the door to resolving them and not carrying baggage that interfere with a solid foundation.

The key here is to be able to maintain a level of rationality while discussing an emotional issue. Many of us have said things in the heat of an argument that we would like to take back, but you can’t. Many of us remember the hurts that kind of outburst may create. How do you learn the skills to argue with civility? You will find numerous self-help resources on fair fighting and one main idea to keep in mind is to remember that no healthy relationship can exist without putting some work into it. What is more important to you, that you be right, or that you “win”? Or is it the connection you have, that you love? If you make the latter the central concept, you can both compromise and emerge stronger. So deal with those conflicts when they arise and accept differences and disagreements as positive life forces. t“We don’t get harmony when everybody sings the same note. Only notes that are different can harmonize. The same is true with people.” – Steve Goodier, freelance writer, author of One Minute Can Change A Life


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Author Profile

Janan Broadbent, PhD
Janan Broadbent, PhD
As a psychologist in private practice since 1979, Janan Broadbent, Ph. D. offers individual, couples, group and family therapy, in addition to conducting workshops on topics such as stress management, communication skills and assertiveness. She writes about current issues relevant to relationship building and conflict resolution in LGBTQ and minority populations, with emphasis on health, fitness and education.

Born in Turkey, Dr. Broadbent earned her undergraduate degree in psychology in 1965. At that time, first as a Fulbright Scholar, then as a CENTO Fellow, she received her master's and doctorate degrees in psychology and education from the University of California at Los Angeles. She has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in psychology at St.Mary's College of Maryland, Mt. Vernon College in Washington, D. C., Johns Hopkins University and the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore. From 1981 to 1988, she was also the Director of Counseling at Notre Dame College.
While in graduate school, Dr. Broadbent worked for the Voice of America radio program, writing and recording materials on the cross-cultural college experience. She has been interviewed on various news programs on TV and has received media training.
Dr. Broadbent is a member of the American Psychological Association and has served as the chair for the Public Affairs Board and as a member of the Executive Council of the Maryland Psychological Association.
Dr. Broadbent's office is located at:
Village of Cross Keys, 120 West Quadrangle, 2 Hamill Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21210-1847 phone: 410-825-5577