There is this unspoken standard that we hold over our relationships: I'd be more loving and agreeable if you'd be more like me. And: our differences are grounds for me voicing my unhappiness.
Well, news flash- we were MADE differently, on purpose. We have been feeding ourselves lies so that we don't have to "die to self." There will never be a minute or day when we all agree on everything. I don't think that destroys my day to know that someone has a different thought- that is my expectation.
The second part of that relational lie is that we are PURPOSEFULLY different to make each other mad. FALSE. We just are... unique and different. It's not bad unless we choose to see it that way.
The problem of differences is that it highlights dominance- who gets their way most of the time, what is their behavior, their age, their status. Differences should inspire variety and sharing.
There are some things that can override differences: roles (parent versus child, child vs child, birthdays vs. non-birthdays, and who's paying). The natural flow of dominance would be parent makes decisions not to be overthrown by child. A well behaved child should not be snubbed by another child's misbehavior. A birthday child should not be stomped on by another child on their special day. And, lastly, God forbid- the buying person gets to call the shots! Now- parents, you have both the parent card and the money card. USE it!
When one person finagles their dominance (outside of the structure mentioned above), this leads to relational disorders, namely co-dependence. It's NOT A GOOD THING. It's the thing that is usually a symptom of addictions in families. My humble opinion is- don't invite that dynamic into your home.
It is OKAY for a parent to say "You know, I know you had a different thought- but I'm going to make the decision that is best for all of us. I'm not able to make EVERYONE happy at once. Bummer that it happened to be you that is not happy about this." This is not a popularity contest. There is no reward for preferring a person... just the lack of momentary tension... that's it. And, it is NOT OKAY for a parent to hand over their power to a child.
To handle differences, we can dispense some grace. We can take on the attitude that even though they do it differently, they come the same results and appreciate things done for us. If someone offers to make dinner, don't criticize their difference in making it. Often people only do as much as they can within their abilities and not as an affront to anyone else. We are all differently abled. If I'm the only one around to help with homework, but the preferred person is not around, then give me grace that I am trying my best to help. You get the idea. I feel like anyone who shows initiative should get a reward, if not grace for not doing it someone else's "way." Don't tell a woman "my mother does it this way..." (does anyone hear an alarm?)
If we want to claim that we hate conflict, how about we start with accepting our differences? Or, own the fact that we are part of the problem. I wish that for one day husbands and wives could appreciate their differences as gifts from God; and that children would not get all bent out of shape that their parents don't think like or kowtow to their appetites. Even "disagreeable" parents are blessings from God. Ask an orphan like me. Enough said. =)