1980s pop aficionados remember the song by Paula Abdul, ‘Opposites Attract.’ And those who also watched MTV will remember the video of Paula Abdul playing a give-and-take game with a cat dressed in a sideways hat and high-top sneakers. Oh the 80s!
Opposites attract; the ying and yang of relationships, complementing personalities-it is a common belief that it is good to have a little diversity in a relationship. After all, it would get a little unhealthy if two people who lived together both liked spaghetti so much that there was no counterbalance – no grilled portobello sandwiches, no noodle stir-fry. Just spaghetti night after night. Hans and I embrace our differences – our opposites:
I like to stay at home; he likes to go out.
He likes to eat meat; I like to eat veggies.
I subscribe to ‘good enough’; Hans is a perfectionist.
Over the course of our many years together, we have learned to make these differences work to our advantage. If I were alone, I would probably spend most Saturday nights at home, alone, reading. If Hans were alone, he would subsist on meat and potatoes until he developed scurvy. Even when we’re not together, our differences still impact my life. Last night Hans was at a bachelor party. I had plans to lie on the couch and get engrossed in the third book of the Twilight series. My phone rang at 8:30: friends asking if I wanted to meet up for some beers. I hesitated….but then thought ‘of course I’ll go out, it’s Saturday night.’ I had a great time and was glad I didn’t spend the evening alone on the couch reading. Going out was not my natural inclination, but I have been conditioned by Hans to go out when friends invite; to go out on a Saturday night.
Of course, Hans and I also have many many more similarities than differences. The one that causes us to butt heads most often is what I’ll call the ‘leadership trait.’ We both want to be in charge all the time. When we were sailing on Whisper it was a problem. When we’re driving somewhere new and need to determine the route, it’s a problem. We work around it, one of us steps back, we smile, laugh and appreciate the confident, take charge streak that we both have.
Relationships are all about the give and take. Step back, step forward, listen, learn. Appreciate the differences and the similarities and learn how to make them work together.