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Sometimes I get annoyed with my husband for being so different from me in some ways and for not being thrilled about me doing some things I'm gung ho about... And then often after the fact I realize how right he was, and I realize how right he is for me, and how much I need him as a counter balance and that the ways in which he's opposite from me keep me grounded when I am floating away on my ideas that may not be so smart.
Like for example.... I often don't know my own limits and take on more than I can chew leaving me a stressed out overwhelmed mess and the family, my house, and my sanity suffers.
I had planned on hosting this big party in my community this weekend. All self catered and made from scratch of course and I was so excited about it... And Mike was dreading it because he felt I had too much on my plate already so he'd end up feeling the brunt of the extra work. He didn't tell me to cancel it but I did a lot of thinking about it and decided to postpone it for a later date, but was very saddened by the decision.
Just a few hours later though, when I realized what it meant, I breathed the biggest sigh of relief when I realized what a stress was lifted from my shoulders, a stress that I hadn't even been aware of until it was gone. And then I realized how prefect Mike is for me, how much I need someone like him to be shooting down my untenable ideas of mine.
This week was very full as it is and on top of everything else I had an order for a gluten free birthday cake and sushi for my friend Holly's daughter's birthday, my mom is sleeping over for the weekend, I am organizing a book swap on Sunday and I'm teaching a class on wild edibles and medicine in another city on Monday. I barely managed to get everything I needed to get done this week (you'll notice I didn't even get around to posting as often as I've been trying to post lately) and Mike needed to pitch in a lot to keep the house from going crazy. I can't even begin to imagine how I would have self catered a party for over 100 this week.... So thanks Mike for being the voice of reason!
I believe that marriage is funny like that sometimes. Some people end up with each other because they are so similar, and on other cases opposites attract. (I remember when my dad first met Mike before we got engaged he said "Mike's a great and likable guy but you're so different from each other, I don't know how you'll manage as a couple.")
Many books talking about the psychology of relationships say that in couples where opposites attract, what makes you fall in love is often the very things that are different between you- because these things fill in what you are missing, or are what you wish you could be. However, after marriage, etc... these very same traits that made you fall in love often are those very same things that you end up fighting about the most.
I happen to know that this is true with my marriage as well. One of the reasons I fell in love with my husband, that attracted me to him most, was that he was such a sweet and easy going guy... and yet in the first few years of our marriage, one of the things I kept on getting upset about him the most was for "being a pushover" and "not standing up for himself enough"... which is the same exact trait that attracted me to him in the first place. So when I read what the books say about the very same traits that attract you are the ones you end up fighting about, it made so much sense.
I hear that many marriages today end because of "irreconcilable differences" and it makes me wonder- how many of these "irreconcilable differences" were the very differences that attracted them to their spouses in the first place, but ended up becoming sources of tension?
I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, and the fact that the same features that attract us to a spouse end up being the source of tension- also happens for a reason- a good reason. Because that is what is best for us and best for the marriage.
Couples work because two people together work better than each one alone. Because we all have traits that we are better with and all have traits that need to change. I kind of liken us to puzzle pieces- we have parts of us sticking out, that are good, that we can share with others... and that we have parts of us that are missing, that we need someone else to help us fill. When two people with coordinating "puzzle pieces" get together, we sometimes chafe a bit, because the fit isn't perfect, and its hard to deal with people that are so different from us sometimes.
But I believe that the reason we end up with people different from us is to help us become better, more complete people, to help us better ourselves and become more balanced individuals. I find that as time goes by, traits that my husband and I started off very differently from each other, end up meeting somewhere more in the middle. We each still have our strengths and differences, but our differences are far less pronounced; as we work to find a middle ground that we can both deal with, we end up changing and becoming better people.
But change is hard.
Because as much as we want to be a better person, we also like how we are, and bristle at the thought of change.
But change is good, and change is often necessary if you want to be the best you that you can be.
I'm far from perfect, and my marriage is not from perfect. Mike and I still sometimes get annoyed at each other and our differences, wondering why he/she can't be more like we are... but weeks like this help me realize and appreciate how nice it is to have someone different than ourselves.
And often these differences, hard as they are initially to come to terms with, end up making us happier and better people in the long run.
What do you think? Do you feel like differences in marriage help strengthen a relationship or weaken it? If you think you can strengthen a marriage and improve yourselves because of these differences, what do you think is the best way to do that?
Are you and your spouse more similar or more different?