I like that my husband, Darren, is patient and level-headed. He makes rational, educated decisions, and rather quickly. I like that he is not afraid of confrontation or change. For example, Darren would buy a new car every year if he could. He loves renting cars because he gets a switch-up from his “normal.” Darren gets bored quickly and likes to try new things.
However, while he is very good at backing up his thoughts with facts or examples, he has a hard time talking about his emotions (his words for emotions are “fine,” “good,” “eh,” and “not good”–some are not even words). That is a trait that has been harder for me to get used to because I am very much the opposite.
I have a hard time explaining my thoughts or backing them up. I feel a vast spectrum of emotions in a short span of time. I take my time and want to make the “right” decision the first time. I prefer stability and predictability, but not to the point of boring routine. I am perfectly content with what I have. I would keep the same car, phone, computer, house, etc. for my whole life. In fact, when I was shopping for a new car the dealers at the car dealership laughed at me because I was so set on having a steering wheel exactly like the one I was used to.
Suffice it to say, my husband and I are nowhere near the same in personality. In fact, I would say most of our disagreements are because of personality differences, which we have learned to manage.
The saying that “opposites attract” might actually be true, and for a good reason. Darren and I have found that the differences that sometimes annoy us and cause us to argue are actually blessings in disguise, because together we are able to balance each other’s weaknesses.
One very clear example of this is the appearance of our apartment. Darren likes things organized and put away. He doesn’t like papers on the coffee table or a pile of shoes lingering by the door. I, on the other hand, would rather have everything out in the open where I can see it and remember to do something with it. If we have a bill that needs to be paid, I want to see it on the counter so it reminds me to get it in the mail.
These are things that could get in the way of a happy marriage if we let them. They are the little things that don’t seem like a big deal, but that day after day can grate on your nerves and cause a lot of bitterness. But that’s not the way it has to be.
We’ve discovered that the better choice is to learn from each other and lean on each other–just like how two people back-to-back, arms linked, can climb a narrow space together better than they can by themselves. There is give and take in marriage, or any relationship. We can use our strengths to build the other person up. We can overcome our own weaknesses by watching and learning from our spouse’s strengths.
Something that has been helpful for me is to learn more about my own personality and how I interact with other people. One thing I would love for Darren and me to do in the future is to take a couple personality tests and then talk about our results and see specifically where we need to be cautious in our interactions.
If Darren was exactly like me, our apartment would be a pigsty, or if I was exactly like Darren, we would never talk about how we feel. I have certainly learned from him and have grown as a person, even in the two years we have been together. I can only imagine how much I can grow in the coming years just from living with my husband and learning from his strengths.
Photography credit: Flickr/Emilie Rhaupp