May 11, 2023

Relating: When stars collide, get curious

“We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations, or any kind of problems with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing new worlds are born. Today I know that is life!” – Author Kim McMillen


 I love traveling to new places and engaging in new experiences. It is just so exciting to be filled with curiosity and anticipation. And while seeking out new experiences may be my thing, my husband Michael gets a thrill out of seeing what’s “new” in a familiar landscape. I am sure these differences attracted us to each other. I love his solid way of being in the world, and he loves my wanderlust—most of the time. I also know at times I can see his daily walks as “obsessive habits” and he my wanderlust as a lack of appreciation for ordinary life.

Polarization within our relationships can be, if we look for it, the beginning of a transformative experience. Like stars colliding, our differences in perspective can meld into new worlds of possibilities. On the other hand, these same differences, without the creative tension of conflict, may live inside of us forever as unfilled longing or untapped potential. And like any collision, it can feel painful and chaotic, especially at the onset. Recognizing and labeling our discomfort as creative tension and seeing it as normal and necessary to the creative process helps us stay with it. Like waiting for a birth, we accept the pain, knowing the gifts waiting on the other side of it.

Like parents preparing for the birthing process, we can learn skills to help us be intentional about how we navigate differences together. Below I’ve included five steps for exploring differences. Have fun and be curious.

What I am learning after 37 years of loving and relating with Michael is a lifetime is not long enough to discover the rich territory within another human being. This knowledge thrills and delights my seeker. As I read over what I’ve written I’m already thinking, “honey, I’m going to want to explore this with you!”

Wishing you a lifetime of human exploration, i.e., relating!



5 steps for Exploring Differences

  1. Lay your different perspectives out on the same “table” and look together at the sum of your parts. Ask, “Who are we, together?” Be clear, there is no loss of self in this process; it is your strong sense of individuality and self-awareness that’s the source of the creative tension. Each person showing up fully and engaged in the process is a necessary component for new possibilities to be born and hidden potential to be ignited.
  2. Step into each perspective on the table and share out loud with your partner what you’re experiencing as you stand in each perspective. Notice how you feel as you stand, speak, and think from this perspective.
  3. Be curious asking yourself, “What are the possible fears and motivations of this perspective? What are the possible positive intentions?”
  4. Be vulnerable and take ownership of your experience standing inside each perspective. Notice where you experience resistance.
  5. Take all you’ve learned from stepping into each perspective, take some time to reflect individually about the process, and then come together and share what you’ve learned and what you want to do with this awareness moving forward.

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