Everyone wants to be appreciated and to feel unique and special. We make people feel this way by asking them to share memories, experiences, feelings, and ideas with us, then show that we treasure them. We are able to do this most easily when we believe that someone else’s uniqueness enriches the tapestry of our lives and allows us to bond closer with them.
Instead of trying to get someone to fit our image, we can learn about and appreciate a partner for who he or she is. Many women marry men who they hope to change. Men marry women hoping the women will not change, and will accept the men as they are. They often end up in a tug-of-war where the women try to change men into partners the men never want to be.
It is hard to accept a partner if we don’t feel secure about ourselves because differences symbolize separation and incompatibility to many people. The more insecure people are, the more they feel threatened by differences, and the harder it is to be close to a partner who is dissimilar. A secure woman can love the fact that her husband enjoys reading mathematics, even though she hates it. When he does what makes him happy, she is happy. They can agree to disagree about politics if they have other philosophies and causes on which to agree. Their differences can even lead to interesting conversations as they learn from each other and share op- posing points of view.
An insecure woman feels threatened by differences because she wants to share “everything” with a husband. She feels inadequate when others appreciate a part of him that she can’t. She also worries that he will stop loving her if he meets women who can discuss topics with him that she doesn’t understand or appreciate.
Likewise, some men enjoy a wife’s career success because it relieves them of their economic burden. They are glad when their wives find work fulfilling, as this makes the women happier and more interesting to be with. Insecure men are afraid of women who have fulfilling careers, fearing that if they married, the wife might stop needing them or might meet men who could become the husband’s rivals. Some men deliberately seek wives who are limited and insular in order to get more attention than their wives do; their wives will always look up to them.