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At some point in your marriage, it’s going to be glaringly obvious how different you and your spouse are… and there’s a good chance it’s going to frustrate the crap out of you.
I don’t know whether that difference is going to be a fight over where to go to dinner, or if your husband accuses you of being too trusting (and you, in turn, accusing him of being jaded.) Maybe it’s a difference of opinion in how to approach your toddler’s tantrums, or how to deal with a wayward teenager. You think he’s too harsh, he thinks you’re too soft, or vice versa.
Whatever it is, whatever is currently frustrating you, I think some perspective might be in order (for both of you, but let’s focus on you right now, since you’re the one reading this :))
I want you to take a second and picture what it would be like to be married to someone exactly like you.
Yes, exactly like you. Same habits, same preferences, same parenting style, same strengths and weaknesses, same everything.
What might that look like?
For me, it looks like a pretty crazy life. It looks like hundreds of projects started and not finished. It looks like weeks varying between a spotless, picture-perfect house mixed with weeks of dishes stacked up in the sink.
Laundry would pile up, because I personally hate doing the laundry, and it would take me a lot longer to switch out the sheets (because who enjoys replacing sheets? Not me.)
Sure, some of it sounds fun – after all, if I were married to myself, I’d go to the beach a lot more often and maybe live a little more frivolously.
But it sounds pretty frustrating, as well.
I got to thinking about this the other day. I had another “million dollar” idea that I presented to my husband with my usual enthusiasm and “all-in”-ness, and he was his usual even-keeled self. He took a more cautious approach, saying I should think about it a little more before diving in. You know, give it a few days and let the idea settle.
This makes me endlessly frustrated. I’m a doer. I don’t want to sit and think, I just want to go! Do! Be! Come what may! If I’m not actively doing something, I get restless.
I don’t want to think about every outcome. I want to think of one or two possibilities and call my decision “thought through”.
But my husband, he likes to think everything through. He’s a pro/con list maker. Someone who likes to look before they leap and think about EVERY possible outcome. He needs to know what he’s in for: the very best and the very worst possible result of every decision.
When I got done being overdramatic about the conversation that sparked this (“Why is he always stifling my creative energy?”), I took a second and started thinking about what a blessing it is that my husband and I are so wildly different.
It’s good to be somewhat incompatible with your spouse.
Because if I got to do everything my way, I’d dive into a bunch of projects without looking. I’d be constantly overextending myself and regretting it, and never giving one project my full attention without leaping to a new one.
Nothing would ever get a chance to succeed, because I’d get discouraged after a week or two and decide to try something new. I’d be flitting from place to place, thing to thing until I was so worn out I couldn’t do anything else.
Similarly, if my husband got to do everything his way, it would take us a lot longer to decide on anything. He’d miss certain opportunities by sitting on the sideline drawing charts and diagrams and making lists.
Where I’m in desperate need of someone to ground me and give me perspective, he needs a jumper, a risk-taker, to get him moving even when he’s not totally sure about the direction. Our lack of compatibility in this area, though it can be frustrating for both of us, is actually an amazing benefit of our marriage.
Similarly, our differences help us be better parents.
As A grows up, he’s going to see our differences. He’s going to see my fearlessness and come to me with a new idea he wants encouragement on. He’s going to see his father’s analytic personality and know who to go to when he’s weighing options and wants to know what’s best.
When he wants a listening ear, he’ll know to come to me and I’ll offer a hug (and maybe a cookie or two.) When he wants advice and real solutions (or advice on manly things :)) I’m sure he’ll go to his dad, not me.
When you think about it, isn’t it really wonderful how your kids have two completely different types of parents they can turn to? Imagine if they only had one type and couldn’t get any other kind of perspective.
In parenting especially, a lack of compatibility is really a wonderful thing.
There’s definitely a reason that opposites attract, and that’s because marriage is about becoming a better person with your spouse. It’s about letting go of yourself and becoming one with your spouse.
You need your spouse to grow, and your spouse needs you. Instead of fighting a lack of compatibility in our marriage, let’s learn to focus on how it’s actually the best thing that could possibly happen to us.
How does your spouse make you better?