I think everyone has heard the phrase “opposites attract” but I remember in my Interpersonal Psychology class in college that while opposites may attract, they don’t last. I question the validity of this idea because some of the strongest couples I know are complete opposites. Of course that question is only relevant if there is any truth to the statement or is it something I remember, but I got the context wrong? Still, some people seem surprised when they come across a couple who are so different from each other. Why?
My husband and I are complete opposites. I tried to think of something else to say to showcase just how different we are. I am type triple-A (seriously, type A is not a strong enough statement) and on the other end of the spectrum my husband is double-B. He is more B than most of my type B friends, but I don’t know if he is as B, as I am A. I am a morning person; I wake up no later than 7:30am regardless of when I went to bed, on a weekend. My husband can go to bed by midnight and sleep well past noon and regardless of when he wakes up, there is a ‘morning adjustment’ period for him to go through, even if it is midafternoon. I am on a schedule, my husband is always fifteen minutes late. (I actually started to calculate this early on in our relationship, if we needed to be somewhere by 5:30, I told him we needed to be there at 5:15. It usually works.) His favorite foods are the few foods I hate (broccoli, onions, coconut) and my favorite foods are the few foods he cannot even stomach (seafood, mushrooms, the spicier the better). I believe in the direct approach and my husband lives for insinuations and blind trust. I am a realist, he is an optimist. I prefer to keep busy and he prefers nothing to do. I could go on, but I feel I have already demonstrated my point, and then some.
For as opposite as we are, however, I believe we have the same core values and desires. We both want children (though he wants two or three and I want a soccer team, I have already mentioned I am Irish in previous posts, don’t be so surprised) and our family (currently just each other) will always be our number one. I am socially liberal, and he is… well I am working on that (but he is at least socially moderate borderline liberal). We both value altruism (and that is its own blog right there). We both believe in justice, even if he believes in others, nearly to a fault, and karma when that proves to be his downfall and I believe in making things happen, even if you need to resort to using a little vinegar to do it. (Hey, you catch more flies with honey than you do vinegar, but a little vinegar can go a long way when it is necessary. On that note, who would want to catch flies anyway?)
I think that without similar convictions we would be headed towards being another marriage gone wrong statistic, but the truth is we are more alike, deep down, than we seem to be on the surface. Perhaps that is the context of the point that was made in my psychology course. We can be night and day in terms of our behaviors, interests and personality traits, but what matters most to us, our priorities and what is worth fighting for are very much in sync.
I love that we are so different. My husband has made me a better and more complete person. I used to be someone who could get so focused on the destination, the journey would be nothing more than a blur. Now I slow down and while I never lose sight of where I am going, I only look towards it rather than trying to live in it. He mellows me out, soothes my spirit and makes me stop and think about things I never would have before. I can say I have done the same for him, because he frequently reminds me. I have instilled in him this drive to better himself, not the way someone else wants him to be, but in the way of not settling. He deserves the world, and whatever he wants he cannot just wait for it to happen. He needs to make it happen. He was never lazy, but I think he was hesitant to go after what he wanted in his career or being direct and setting boundaries in relationships because he does not like to make waves, while I ride those waves proudly. But now he speaks up for himself, what matters to him and if there is something that he is passionate about, he goes for it without feeling the need to look back or apologize.
I believe that as opposites we are stronger, because when it comes to our marriage we are a unit. I am person A, he is person B and our relationship is a third entity (let’s call it person C). We are both individuals and value our individuality, but when it comes to ‘Team Roy and Michael’ we are a unit. He brings strengths to our team that I could only hope to possess (optimism, patience and a soothing sense of calm) and I bring another skill set to the table (directness, being the ‘details person’ and knowing when to compromise and when to say no). Our differences make us stronger as a unit and because we know and accept one another as we are, rather than trying to change one another, there are no surprises.
I wouldn’t want my husband to be more like me. Quite frankly, one of me is more than enough and I have to deal with the uncensored version of me all of the time. That leads me to another way we are different. Most of my husband’s friends and family are very similar to him, but most of my friends are the opposite of me. My closest friends (as in the people I would die for and vice versa, my true family, who I have known for years) are also Type B. In fact, they have more in common with my husband than they do with me, not just in terms of traits, but behaviors and habits (down to the sleeping into the afternoon, I just don’t get it). I surround myself with my opposites and for some reason they enjoy my company and intense brand of crazy (I think they find it highly entertaining actually).
People, who are different from me, help me keep perspective, keep me open and grounded, and help me in my constant quest of understanding and trying to do right. For me, my opposites are not only necessary, but a welcome relief.