I feel a little like Dear Abby today. I got a message from a fairly newly-wed young person regarding the topic of being opposites in a marriage relationship, and arguments that crop up because of it. I’m going to try my hand at answering it here, in hopes that it might help someone else in the process.
Dear Frustrated in Texas,
First of all, the shine on a new and glistening marriage eventually starts to wear off. I hate to be the bearer of this disheartening news, but it’s true. You are going to face the reality of waking up and discovering that the stuff your spouse does, that you used to find adorable, now drives you absolutely crazy. There will be parts of your dreamy, newlywed home that start to seem a little nightmare-ish; that’s just the facts of, well, anything, really, where the novelty is beginning to wear off. However, that bright and shiny new marriage can wear into a rich patina, if we are careful with what we do when it starts to turn (otherwise, you end up with tarnish, which is never good any way you slice it).
That said, I think, for the most part, couples typically are opposites. I mean, we’re even opposites, physically, as men and women, so that we’ll literally fit together. We tend to be attracted to those who possess characteristics that we don’t, and allow us to experience life through them in a way we wouldn’t on our own. In the early days of infatuation, these differences are exciting; you might be quiet, where your spouse is the life of the party; you might play it safe, but your spouse might like to live on the edge. You thrill in the wake of his exciting take on life in the early days, because you’d never make those choices on your own, and it’s kind of fun. Probably, you felt a little uneasy way down deep about some of it, but reassured yourself that you’d let him have his fun now, since it would certainly be different when you got married.
But then it wasn’t.
Then, whatever consequences that stemmed from living life his way started to effect both of you. Or he has started to find your way of life boring. Maybe he feels like he’s starting to lose some of his edge, and you feel like you aren’t noticed or valued. Maybe it feels like you are at an en passe.
This is wear it can go to tarnish quickly if you don’t start polishing.
The beautiful thing about opposites is that when they come together, they fill in the missing places of the other and make a whole. Even though both people will always be flawed, imperfect humans who make mistakes, they still bring to the table characteristics that, when put together, make a mighty fine human being. His risk-taking will move your hesitancy forward, your quiet demeanor will help balance his tendency toward the wild. Jerry Maguire reference aside, you’ll complete it each other.
BUT, in order to complete each other you do actually have to come together, and I don’t just mean physically. You’ve got to discover bridges to fill the gaps where the pieces all fit together. It’s here where I think extreme opposites have the most trouble: trying to find any common ground at all. If this is where your arguments are stemming from, then I’m going to suggest that you make the first move.
Pick something he loves and learn all about it. If he loves sports, learn about it. Music? Load up your iPod with it. Pick an activity surrounding it and invite him. Dazzle him with your knowledge.
If you don’t have something that you both love to do, then create something.
Finally, remember that God is FOR you. Ask Him to help you remember all the wonderful things that attracted you to your polar opposite in the first place. He fit you together for a reason, and He’ll keep revealing it again and again, helping you keep a warm glow on that marriage of yours for many years to come.
“So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Matthew 19:6 ESV
dear abby … i mean melinda … have i told you lately how much i love you…thank you for being you!!!
I think Dear Abby/Melinda fits you well. People have been coming to you for counsel since you were in High School. These are good words of Godly wisdom to your young married friend!