Dreamer vs. Realist {and how to work together}

Of all the stresses caused by the COVID-19 lockdown the one I was least expecting was the strain on my relationship with my hubby. At first, although a huge mental and physical shift, lockdown allowed for some lovely family time – time to spend together, get stuff done around the house and time to kick back and relax {thank you sunshine}. But after 3 months of living in each others pockets we found ourselves clashing more and more.

My hubby can come across as quite negative and gritty {especially first thing in the morning} and is the epitome of his brain not kicking in before he speaks. You’d think after 13+ years being together I would know to take what he sometimes says with a pinch of salt but being continuously confined to our home and each others company made it harder and harder for me to bite my tongue.

I found myself feeling wounded and placing blame on him for {pretty much} everything. I even tried diagnosing what I thought was “wrong” with him, and for that I apologise.

Put simply – I’m a dreamer and he’s a realist. This can mean I feel dampened and unheard whilst hubby feels I’m being irrational and impulsive {both of which are at least in part very true}.

I live very “in the moment” whereas hubby is always looking ahead. He has goals rooted in ambition and determination. Mine are too but I tend to jump in feet first whereas he’s more likely to take a measured approach. I see him as stubborn and feel frustrated when my ideas or impulses are {rightly or wrongly} squandered. I love the idea of a carefree, simple, happy life. Whereas hubby feels life is much more worry free because of survival, responsibilies and the “bigger” picture.

Hubby is generally more reserved and dislikes small talk. I thrive off social interaction and chat chat chat {!} I am open minded with a deep value for harmony and to make sure everyone feels heard and understood and a strong dislike for conflict. Hubby has strong views and values and isn’t afraid of a dispute.

Whilst it’s very easy to see why our personalities clash at times we also make for a pretty kick ass team. I dream, he critiques. And if we can keep our heads and work together the result is a well thought out, practical, inspiring and exciting plan of action. Left to our own devices I would likely be getting myself into all sorts of problems and hubby would run the risk of never moving forward for fear of failure.

So how can a dreamer and realist work together?

  • Understand and accept each others personalities – you cannot change another person. But you can make yourself more understanding and find ways to move forward together. It’s important each personality has the space and acceptance to be themselves
  • Communication – having someone you can openly talk to without fear of judgement or being put down is also key. Hand in hand with this comes the importance of communicating when you’re having an off day. If you’re feeling unwell, tired or woken up in a grump acknowledging this can save a lot of potential clashes
  • Find a way to compromise – accept that you may not always agree with each other but that you are allowed to communicate your thoughts – noting the other may have a point of view you’ve not thought of
  • Stop placing blame – take responsibility for your actions or re-actions and say sorry. Simples
  • Be assertive – your partner is not a mind reader. You sometimes need to vocalise what you want. I listened to a Made by Mammas podcast recently where they talked about how they’d feel guilty about doing something for themselves {like go for a run} and that they felt like they needed to ask permission to do something whereas their other halves would just be like “right I’m off for a run”. I’m definitely guilty of not being assertive and building something up to big drama rather than just saying “I’m feeling a bit off so I’m going to take myself of for a walk” and just getting on with it
  • Turn the focus on you – just because you’ve decided you want to eat healthier {for example} it doesn’t mean your other half has to be on board. Of course you would expect them to be supportive but chances are they’re not in the same headspace as you and that’s ok! Marie Kondo wrote about her experience with tidying and organising other people’s belongings – in essence you shouldn’t. But the simple act of you organising your own stuff may have the knock-on effect of them feeling inspired to sort out theirs {if they want to}. You should do things because YOU want to and if others follow suit that’s great
  • Create expectations and boundaries – as mentioned I can be incredibly impulse and left to my own devises this could have huge consequences. A way around this we’ve found is {using the example of money} by allowing me the freedom to spend “my” money as I wish {i.e. what I have left after bills etc}. If I want to buy something more expensive for say the house I speak with hubby about it first. We then decide together whether it’s needed, a priority, will make our lives easier or better and if yes then is this something we can purchase now or save up for. This helps me have the independence I need to spend what I like but within the parameters agreed to ensure I don’t let my impulsive spending habits have a negative effect on our lives. We are honest about our needs and don’t enter into any kind of longer term commitment {such as a credit card} without discussing it first
  • Try not to catastrophise – If a clash does arise {which is inevitable} try not to go in all guns blazing. You have a choice whether to “feed the fire” or step away. Try to find other {healthier} ways of venting frustration. For example – when hubby has something on his mind he often goes into a grump and starts picking faults at home “why do we have this thing here?” “why are the kids toys everywhere?” I then have a choice whether to “fight back” or I can take a breath and respond in a more positive manner knowing that this is him venting and not a direct dig at me
  • Respect their decisions – they may not always want to do the same things as you and that’s their choice and prerogative. At the same time this shouldn’t necessarily mean you can’t go ahead and do what you want {within reason}
  • More communication – when situations arise it may be important to say to your partner {when all is calm} “when you say things like X it makes me feel YZ.” This gives them the opportunity to either explain why they acted that way or to apologise and find a way forward

None of this means you have to put up with bad or abusive behaviour. Only you know if things are getting really out of control and are no longer acceptable. There is a stark difference between clashing with your partner and abusive, controlling behaviour.

Lockdown has caused a huge amount of uncertainty, fear and change. A change in focus, in roles at home and/or at work and a change in how we function as a family unit. In the same way coming out of lockdown will also have it’s challenges. When hubby goes back to work I will be back to riding solo from 8am-11pm 5 days a week. He will no longer be around at the weekend or have a regular full day with the boys outside of school holidays. And that is going to be another hard shift.

Remember you are not the same person. I find my husband highly irritating {!} but I also love him and the way he keeps me grounded and safe.

If you want to read more about what can happen when a dreamer starts dating a realist I found this good article here.



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