I love magnets. The kids and I used to spend hours playing with those fascinating metal rods, trying to force like ends together until they jerked clear of our grip and flipped. The resulting bond was so strong it now took significant effort to pull them apart. You see, it’s a scientific fact. Opposites attract.
Magnets have all kinds of practical uses: Everything from holding our grandkids’ pictures onto the refrigerator door, to running machines that can see inside your body (MRI) or propelling high speed trains across tracks or keeping a disc magically suspended in space. Ok, that last one isn’t necessarily practical. It’s just cool. And all this cool practicalness occurs because opposites attract and sameness repels. (Check this out)
Back in the good old days of dating, my husband and I thought we had SOOOO much in common. We both spoke Spanish and loved the Latin culture. We both wanted to be missionaries. We both loved to sing, and travel, and experience new, exciting things. Then we married.
Whoa! The shock at realizing how opposite we were. Doug was super clean. Get this, the guy folded his dirty clothes. I mean—REALLY? Me? I was off in dreamland, with stories in my head and totally distracted, unaware of that random item in the middle of the floor that I just stepped over. Oh, I wanted to be a good housekeeper, but it’s really hard when you don’t even notice stuff. Or, I would start cleaning and get drawn into doing something completely different because of an item I picked up that reminded me about… Get the picture?
Doug was meticulous about bookkeeping. I thought balancing the checkbook meant whatever balance the statement said I had, I got to adjust my checkbook to match. Ouch. Good thing I was a tight-wad. Something my husband wasn’t. I liked to sleep in, he was up early. I liked spicy food, he liked sweet. I liked dogs in the house, he saw dogs as outdoor pets. I liked camping, he liked hotels. I loved the rhythms and harmonies of contemporary music, he loved operas and classical. I would get lost reading a good novel, he would get lost reading my chemistry text. Grrr.THAT was a hard one for me, since chemistry was my kryptonite, the one thing that could possibly destroy my academic prowess. Whenever my husband would read my tear-soaked textbook for pleasure, I wanted to hit him over the head with it. I was the one with the temper, can you tell? My husband, while he obviously got upset, never blew up. That was also something I found quite frustrating. How do you yell at someone who won’t yell back? Ah! Such trials! All this without even addressing the guy/gal differences one expects to encounter.
Doug spoke German (as well as Spanish.) He loved languages, and was constantly picking up new phrases from any language he heard. He is still that way. I thank God I learned Spanish as a child, or I would be pitifully monolinguistic. (Yeah. I know that’s not in the dictionary, but I like the way it sounds.)
One time, way back when, I decided to take a home study course in German. After months of study, the only phrase I could remember was, “Wiederholen Sie, bitte!” Repeat after me. Then I tried French. The catch phrase I retained with that one was, “Je suis désolé.” I’m sorry. It sounds so dramatic, so musical.
Yeah well, I don’t have the gift of language. But I am quite good at reading body language.
I laugh sometimes (other times I cringe) to think how naïve and immature we were. We even thought we could change the other person. But aside from our stubborness, we did have two things in common: we loved each other and we were both determined to make our marriage work.
So, what do you do when opposites attract? Instead of keeping our opposite ends away from each other we make them work for us! Make those opposite traits, like those of the magnet, bind you closer together.
“So, God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27. Different from the beginning.
I have this sneaking suspicion God designed us opposites to attract. Why? Surely not because He delights in confusing us and making us work super hard. I think it is because where one is weak, the other is strong and so the fact that we are different helps us become so much more complete than we would be by ourselves!
My husband’s desire for order, made me aware of my chaos. As I strove to improve, he learned to mellow out. (Yes, for those who work with Doug—he has mellowed out a ton!) I learned to balance a checkbook, he learned not to spend as readily. He still wakes up early, I wake up earlier than I used to. The dog got to come inside when I could be with it, otherwise it stayed outside. We discovered Doug is ok with camping if it is by water. I have learned to appreciate hotels. We learned to understand and enjoy a much richer variety of music, and raised amazing, musical children. I still like novels. He still likes chemistry. Some things are hopelessly in place, but at least someone can explain chemistry to the kids, and I can tell them all kinds of great tales. When we travel, he is the de facto translator. I fill in the gaps reading body language. My body language intuition proved beneficial in telling when the kids had issues that needed addressing. His lack of temper helped him address those issues with much less emotion than I would. There were times, when the kids were small, that I would call him at work with a “You gotta talk me through this or I will literally wring some necks!” And he would calm me down, talk me through it, and our children survived. Somewhere along the way, my temper mellowed.
We can either let our differences push us apart, or we can flip around and cling tight. Making our differences work to hold us together.
His strengths + my strengths x (through) God’s strength = a much stronger marriage. Because of this we strive to overcome or modify our weaknesses and bond together in ways that only death could tear apart. And Honey, that better be a long time from now.
I’m sure that many of you have similar stories. I would love to hear how you have used your differences to work for you.