My husband and I got engaged over July 4th weekend 17 years ago. As we were living in New York at the time, the date was chosen more out of convenience, as we had a long holiday/vacation weekend.

While English is our mother tongue, he being British and me being American we occasionally found that we used to butt heads when it came to cultural comforts.  For him, watching the cricket is sacrosanct. It’s tantamount to attending  Kol Nidre on Yom Kippur…You just don’t miss it!!!

Obviously for me, watching cricket wasn’t even nearly on my radar. I occasionally watched baseball and my family enjoys it here and there, but it’s not massively high on our list of priorities. This is something that varies from family to family as well.

Reconcilable Differences, by Dr. Jim A. Talley






The major differences between Brits and American’s I’ve discovered over the years is in our use of language. For example Brits use the loo instead of the bathroom. Getting pissed in the UK means your massively wasted, whereas in America it means you’re furious. Biscuits in the UK are cookies in the US. If something gets nicked from a Brit, it’s been stolen. If something is nicked to an American it means an object needs a touch up. There are some obvious pronunciation differences: Tomato, has a hard A sound to an American, and a soft A to a Brit.

The greatest difference my husband and I encountered when we first got together was our attention to politeness.  Sadly to say, we Yanks just don’t give a toss (to coin an English term) when it comes to manners half as much as our English counterparts (obviously this varies from family to family as well). This was something that drove my husband crazy when we first got together. He’s all about walking house guests to the door when they’re about to leave. He makes sure to say the word please, even when it seems superfluous, and thanks people profusely, even when they piss him off (American usage).

The one that used to drive me the most insane early on in our marriage was his constantly apologizing for things that he did even if it didn’t bother me or seem to warrant an apology. As in “I’m sorry to say, but I disagree with your opinion about x,y,z…” In my head I’d be screaming, “Stop f#$%ing apologizing all the bloody (to coin a British phrase) time.”

Yep, lots of couple’s encounter differences between them. You don’t have to be from different cultures to be challenged by your differences…Even couples from the same town, who share the same religious ideology and have similar education levels will find they have differences about how things should be that can piss (American usage here) the hell out of each other.

Things like attention to cleanliness. I remember a while back working with a couple who had different ideas about levels of cleanliness. The husband was very particular about always capping the toothpaste and making sure you couldn’t find a speck of dust. She was also clean and tidy, in fact this was something she loved about him. She just didn’t take it to his level.

Her attention to detail was slightly less, and caused great friction between them.

After working together a short while, we discovered that the real issue for him was the way he was raised. Being the son of poor immigrants he was taught to value everything, not to take anything for granted. He took this level of meaning very seriously and applied it to everything…For him waste was second to committing a horrible sin.  She also was raised to care about her things and not squander, just not to the same degree.

By understanding where each was coming from and the attachment to objects that each was encouraged to have, they were better able to appreciate and understand where each was coming from. He was able to calm down a bit and she was able to appreciate things slightly more.

Here is a tip list that may help you if you find that you and your bf/gf or partner have differences that feel hard to reconcile:

  • Understand how this issue is triggering you?
  • Work through where you learned to feel so strongly about that issue.
  • Share feelings that come up for you in relation to your difference.
  • Respond to your partner with empathy when they are the ones sharing their feelings
  • If you find it too difficult to feel empathetic, find out why (is it because you so strongly disagree?)
  • Try to find a happy medium between your different ideas. If it doesn’t exist, take turns doing things different ways, until you choose one way or the other or create a new way altogether.

Know that lots of couples have differences between them. Far too many get scared off by their feelings and think they have to run away or attack their partner. When strong feelings come up for you about your differences it doesn’t mean you made a mistake. It’s normal for all couples to have differences…but you do need to tend to them, lest they fester and cause even more gaps between you.

For more information about how to deal with your differences, check out my video on dealing with differences between men and women:



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