Leveraging off your differences

Managing change is spoken about a lot in the corporate world. Often, there’s an underlying assumption that change is difficult and that difference is bad. Differences are not necessarily wrong or bad.

Differences can actually strengthen a marriage.

Often in marriage we find ourselves loathing the very thing that attracted us to our spouse and the very thing we used to like. We don’t appreciate it any more. To leverage this situation you express your needs where those differences are now irking you or irritating you.

The key to leveraging off your differences is to appreciate each other’s strengths and express your needs.

In episode 9 of Saving Our Marriage I asked the couples to do a leveraging off your differences exercise to help them identify what their differences are.

The point of this exercise? To help identify your differences and your similarities.

Leveraging off your differences lists 21 qualities and behaviours on a continuum. Examples include justice and mercy, extravert and introvert, confronting and avoiding, and rigid and flexible.   

Neither side of the continuum is better than the other.  Any strength that is overused becomes a weakness.

Using either the form or the leveraging off your differences cards with 21 different Likert scales, you plot your spouse and yourself. If you are using the cards it is good for your spouse to have their own set of cards and for you to have yours. So you only exchange notes after you have each done the exercise individually. You then have a conversation around that.

The power is in the conversations you have after doing the exercise, not the exercise itself.



An example: Justice vs Mercy

People who are strong on justice, tend to be very truth oriented. They ask questions like, “Were things done fairly? Were things done justly?” If you are very justice and truth orientated, you might have a harsh edge or be quite critical towards yourself and others at times. You may benefit from someone who is a bit more merciful and gracious.

The person who is strong on mercy is very grace oriented. They may struggle with boundaries and give and give and give. However, they tend to be in more in touch with the emotional and relational side of people around them.

There’s nothing wrong with either of these. There are just strengths and overuse of those strengths.

A common scenario is where the the person high on mercy is in a business situation where they are being abused or not treated well. The person high on justice is likely to say, “That’s unacceptable, they shouldn’t treat you like that, they were not fair with you. Don’t work there any more”.

Sometimes when the justice orientation manifests, it can feel like it is a bit harsh. However, it is actually a quality that needs to be appreciated. They want to pull you out of abusive situations. Being just and strict and standing up for what you believe in is actually strength. It only becomes a liability when it is overused.



For more in depth insight you can use the cards in conjunction with the leveraging off your differences chapter in Conversing.

Remember, the power is in the conversations you have after doing the exercise and the key to leveraging off your differences is to celebrate your differences and express your needs.