Are you married to your opposite? Do you and your spouse seem to see things differently in almost every way possible? If so, please be assured that this is perfectly normal. From my study of marriage resources, speaking to friends, and my own experience, I think we are in the majority.
I’m Married To My Opposite, Too!
I am married to my opposite, too. And boy, was it shocking when I first found out how different my future husband and I were! I wrote more about my own experience in this humorous article, called “My Husband and I are Opposites.”
You see, I originally thought that my husband and I were very similar, but then found out how totally opposite we were! And I think this is the common experience. When couples meet, and are attracted, our brain seeks to find the commonalities with the one we like, and we play down the differences. As time goes on, though, the distinctions slowly emerge.
And it is so frustrating! Why can’t he understand me? What is she talking about? Why can’t she be more like me?
This was a huge issue in our marriage. In fact, for the first years, I googled “married to my opposite” into the computer regularly, desperately wondering how to live with someone who obviously had nothing in common with me.
Your Differences Will Become Your Strengths
And through research, prayer and marriage counselling, I discovered a very powerful principle that I will share with you. This one truth can help a relationship grow and puts conflict into a new paradigm. Here it is:
Did you catch that? Your differences will become your greatest strengths as a couple! Why? Because they will teach you and force you to grow beyond your own limitations, and become better as a couple.
Whatever difference you are struggling with, however hard it is, this very point can be a tremendous opportunity for growth. Remember, though, it will not be an automatic process; this can take years but it can happen.
Let me give you a couple of examples. If you are frugal and your husband is not, he may be teaching you how to be more generous, while you are teaching him to be more careful with money. If she is quiet and you are party animal, she may be teaching you how to be more reflective, while you are teaching her to come out of herself.
Be Open To See How Your Differences Help You
How do you allow this process to happen? By being open to the one that is so different than you. Try to find out in a genuine matter, whether by asking, or simply observing with an open heart. And you may be surprised. Chances are, your husband has a strength that is causing him to behave in the way that bothers you the most.
Let me give an example. Let’s say that your husband always leaves the house without cleaning up, leaving a mess in his wake, every day. You get frustrated because you feel stuck with cleaning up. Yes, it is maddening.
But what does he have that you don’t? Perhaps he is just so focused on getting things done that he doesn’t notice details. And think about how this quality has helped you in your marriage. Chances are, his strength of moving straight ahead has helped you in marriage by him taking action when needed, without mulling things over too much. And chances are also that his action quality (if you don’t have it) has helped make you more assertive, too.
This is just one little example, but the principle can be applied in many different areas. Check out the table at the end of this article I wrote a few years ago: Table of Our Differences for more examples of how it worked in our marriage.
So, if you sometimes wonder if you are incompatible, remember that differences can be strengths, and look for ways to learn from your spouse instead of trying to change them. This is not easy — I think it is a lifetime process of learning.