Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Opposites Attract: Practical Points for Living with Your Opposite

I think God has been getting me ready for a marriage to my opposite for a very long time. Years ago, I went on a Bible camp when I was in high school. My room leader was in her twenties and about to get married. We were asking her lots of questions about it all, what she was looking forward to, what she feared etc. I remember her whining loudly about the fact that she wasn't going to be able to cope with her husband-to-be's habit of squeezing the toothpaste, as she liked to roll the tube... 

After the 3rd time she told the story, I suggested that why didn't she just buy two tubes of toothpaste? 

She thought I was a genius... 

We actually share a tube of toothpaste. But we do buy seperate margarine/butter, sometimes eat slightly different meals and roll up our own socks becuase we like them done different ways. 

The thing I have found most useful in my marriage is to "resolve" issues.

At a pre-marriage course we attended they explained that there are 4 main "fight styles"; Win, Compromise, Pull Back and Give Way. 

Win - this is like a shark, you go after the win at any cost. On our course there were a pair of lawyers getting married - they both described themselves as 'win'! Long-term arguments there!!

Compromise - like a fox - this sounds good, you express your opposing values then find middle ground. Problem is that most of the time both people end up feeling hard-done-by. Long term, this could lead to resentment for both parties. Or if one person is 'win' and the other 'compromise' then you can see how this is going to go.

Pull Back - think of a turtle pulling their head in at the first sign of trouble! This person doesn't even express their feelings, just pulls back and lets whatever will be, be.  Never expressing your desires will leave you always feeling powerless and out of control.  

Give way - This person can express what they would like to happen, but the reality is that they end up just giving way to the other person, like a soft teddy bear, thinking they are being more loving by just letting go. 

After analysing ourselves, we discovered (well... it wasn't anything new really!) that Awesome is a Shark and I am a Turtle.  We tried living this out for about 12 months when we got married. 


Shark would win, but feel bad that Turtle was so sad. Turtle would try to pretend that it didn't matter, but things would keep building and building and next time a small arguement started, World War 3 would break out, until Turtle pulled her head in again... on and on it went. And it wasn't good. 

Then we finally caught on to what the marriage counsellors at the course taught as the 'best practice' for a healthy marriage. 
The Owl. Resolve.
Instead of fighting over the details, resolve the problem completely. They told the example of a couple who wanted to paint their house. One wanted pastels, the other bright, bold colours. Instead of fighting about it, they hired an Interior Designer to create a colour scheme they could both live with. 

For us it looks like this, I need to eat fish 4 times a week for my health. Awesome hates fish. I eat 2-3 fish meals for lunch at work during the week, but occasionally need to get one or two in at home. Rather than forcing Awesome to eat fish just because I need to, and rather than never having fish for dinner because he doesn't like it, once or twice a week, I buy a nice piece of steak for him and a piece of fish for me, cut up some vegies and have 'separate dinners' (can you start to see a pattern here?!).

For my diet, I don't work well with biscuits or chocolate in the house as I just snack and snack. So I got rid of them. Except that that isn't really fair to Awesome who is an adult and can choose what he wants to eat. So he has a snack box of his own, and he can put whatever he wants in there. And I can't have any. It works. 

We have different methods/levels of cleaning in the house. We were getting grumpy that one of us would do some housework and the other would do nothing for a few days.  So we sat down and worked out our priorities. I love a clean bathroom - he loves a clean kitchen. So we split things up. I have found that we now keep 'each others' spaces a little tidier of our own stuff because we respect that when the other person does it for us.
Does it always work? No. 

Are there still arguments? Yes, but they are not as frequent and we recover better. They are not World War 3 either. 

Does it always have to be this way? Probably not. We occasionally swap jobs when we are a bit over it. Or we do the other person's job when we want to surprise them or show them some practical love. 

God created us different for a reason. There are sensational times to be had encouraging and spurring your 'opposite' on in life. Get the practical things right and out of the way, and you can start to focus on the things that you love to do together! 

So, what could you Resolve with your partner today? 

1 comment:

  1. Hahah I'm definitely warming to the idea of a snack box just for John. Otherwise I blame him for me eating them all!