Many couples often confuse unity with uniformity. The words are synonyms; however, their meanings have different connotations, especially in the life of relationships. The word unity brings to mind thoughts of harmony, serenity and peace. Unity implies working together lovingly, respectfully and honorably. Unity suggests that two unique people can come together, join together and work together without sacrificing who they really are. Unity appreciates differences, diversity and deviations; it allows for self-expression. Unity honors the individual and the union.
However, the word uniformity conveys something else in relationships. It conveys sameness, homogeneity, inflexibility and standardization. The word uniformity implies repetition and monotony. It evokes feelings of rigidity and boredom. Uniformity is not a dirty word. We need some sense of uniformity to run our households, manage our families, and to ensure that we are productive people. But, when uniformity starts to take precedence over unity, your relationship can suffer.
So, why is unity preferred over uniformity? Because in life, you don’t have to wear the same uniform (uniformity) to be on the same team (union/unity). You and your boo don’t have to agree on every subject. You and your sweetie don’t have to like the same things. You and your wifey don’t have to have the same friends. You and your lover don’t have to share the same perspectives. And you and your boo don’t have to approach decisions and tasks the same way. Why? Because you and your partner are wonderfully different; you are both amazingly unique. So to require uniformity in all aspects of your relationship, does not honor you as a person who has a unique past, unique interests, unique experiences and a unique way of receiving/giving love.
How can you ensure that your relationship promotes and practices unity over uniformity?
1. Own and celebrate your differences. Talk to your partner about her wants, likes, and needs and then find ways to support and honor her. If she likes to golf and you don’t, don’t go. But maybe make her a cooler filled with her favorite food and drinks for her to enjoy while she’s playing. If your partner likes to read and you don’t, don’t nag her about not giving you attention when she’s reading. Go buy her a book or a Kindle and rub her feet while she’s enjoying herself. If you are a Christian and she’s a Buddhist, don’t condemn or judge each other. Don’t make it your personal mission to convert each other either. Finding ways to discuss/address beliefs, principles, needs and practices peacefully promotes unity. Keep in mind that you both want the same thing – to be loved, respected, and affirmed. Remember also that every woman wants and needs to be celebrated, not just tolerated. Yes, you have different ways, views and thoughts. That’s a strength! Complementary skills, talents and gifts can make your union stronger, smarter, more stimulating and more satisfying. So, savor the differences.
2. Tell your truth. In my experience working with couples, uniformity usually happens when partners are not being honest with each other. The main reason is fear, but we will address that in another article. As a result, some partners “just go along to get along” – doing the same things the same way, but secretly hating it. The problem with the practice of “just going along to get along” is that it denies you the freedom to be authentic. Just going along does not get your needs met. Just going along does not honor and respect your personhood. Just going along does not allow you to be vulnerable or heard. And more importantly, going along to get along for an extended period of time is dangerous. Why? Because not having a voice or a choice breeds resentment and causes emotional hoarding. So, always challenge yourself to tell your truth. It may be difficult at first and when discussing certain topics, but strive to be honest with your wifey. Let her know what you feel, and how you feel. If doing something, feeling something, saying something or believing something is not true for you, tell her. Then together, you can CREATE something new, different and mutually satisfying that promotes unity, but does not require uniformity.
3. Work on yourself. Practicing and appreciating unity is hard because we honestly feel more connected to people who agree with us. Research suggests that when people don’t confirm or conform to our way of thinking, we can become defensive and sometimes withdraw. Some of us go into self-protective and self-preservation modes as if a different opinion signals a personal attack. And for some reason, when people believe exactly what we believe, we unconsciously let our guards down. We emotionally relax. We feel good, we feel safe, and we feel that we know what to expect. And, the truth is - many of us have little experience outside of our work life, interacting with people who are different. Just think about your friends and acquaintances. Many of them look like you, go to the places that you go, and like most of the things that you like. But If you really want a richer life, a more satisfying relationship, an opportunity to grow, a chance to know more about your partner, and more intimacy with your boo, work on yourself. Develop your ability/capacity/maturity to not only accept difference, but to embrace and celebrate differences. Trust me, making more room for your partner’s views will result in her making more room for you in her heart. Unity or uniformity? It’s your choice.
But if you want to CREATE LOVE in ways that you have never experienced before, I hope you chose UNITY. Why? Because UNITY unifies and satisfies, and never nullifies.
Minister SharRon Jamison