Can love succeed based on the differences between two people instead of just what they have in common? Definitely yes. In fact, the only way we can truly feel loved is through attention and celebration for the ways we are distinctly different from our spouse or partner.

No matter how much two people have in common -- religion, politics, race, financial status, whatever -- when they enter into a relationship they soon discover the many ways they are different from one another. But most of us don't know what to do with the differences. We're frightened by them, confused or feel threatened. We use the differences to trash each other and battle in fruitless power struggles. We damage or destroy what otherwise might be very good relationships. That doesn't have to be.

With a simple change in vision, those very same differences can become the doorway to the deepest intimacy and the sweetest romance a relationship offers. Because, when you are being loved for who you know yourself to be -- not who you think you should be, or who the other person thinks you should be, but who you really are -- then you can trust the love that's coming to you because it's actually about you. You can relax into the relationship, opening the way for deeper and deeper intimacy and real, down-to-earth romance.

As we describe in our book, The New Intimacy: Discovering the Magic at the Heart of Your Differences, couples can learn how to transform their differences into catalysts for change, personal growth and ongoing adventure, instead of fodder for heartache. That way, their differences function like the sand in an oyster -- irritating and sometimes very difficult -- but necessary to create the pearl.

Before we met, both of us had struggled with the differences we had experienced in our prior relationships. We had been committed to romantic fantasy and chasing "happily ever after." As most people know from experience, that's a sure fire recipe for failure. When we met, and knew we were serious about being together, we were determined to make the differences work for us instead of against us. And we have. We will be celebrating our thirteenth wedding anniversary and each year our love gets richer, more meaningful and more fun.

You can put the magic of differences into your own love life, or with your children, friends, relatives or business asociates, for that matter, by consciously recognizing that the other person is not you. When you can do that, then their opinions, feelings and behaviors can't be "wrong" or "ridiculous" because you can understand that just as you value your ways, they are identified with theirs. Now, the richness of your relationship can unfold when you become sincerely curious about the other person.

By curious what we mean is that you avoid assuming you already know what the other person means, you don't take their moods or behaviors for granted. Instead, stay open to continually learning more about the other person. Notice, that as you open to discovering more about those around you, you become more spiritually connected, more present, awake and alive in the moment. In this way, your relationships become more deeply intimate as you focus on love as a daily meditation on practical spirituality.

Discovering and defining who you are as individuals and who you are together is the goal of your loving adventure. It is magical. Not like sleight of hand -- entertaining, but ultimately illusion. It is magical in its beauty, in its realness and meaning. It is the magic of consciousness and surrender, the magic of differences, and your relationship serves as the container and catalyst for your evolution in spiritual understanding, experience, practice and power.

Author's Bio: 

Husband and wife psychology team, Judith & Jim, live in Windham, NY and can be heard M-F 4-5 PM and Saturdays 9-Noon on www.wisdomradio.com.  They are the bestselling authors of "The New Intimacy" and "Opening to Love 365 Days a Year." Visit their website at www.thenewintimacy.com, For their free weekly email newsletter, send email to thenewintimacy-on@mail-list.com