Just before Christmas a friend asked if we were planning to attend the Vancouver Olympic Games. I heard my husband respond: “I am staying as far away as possible from those crowds”. His comment got me thinking. I wanted to go! I love crowds, excitement and I especially love people-watching. Give me all the Olympic hype!
After 22 years of marriage I still laugh at how different my hubby and I are. They say opposites attract. Really? It didn’t seem like we were all that opposite 20 some years ago.
I have heard so many engaged couples say “we have so much in common”. They fill out surveys and relationship evaluations that prove their point. Similar interests, similar activities and similar goals and focus. Of course they realize that are some differences, but it doesn’t seem significant. I particularly remember one couple that cooed “we even have the same love languages”. Then the years pass. Seven years specifically for this cooing couple. With tears she said to me “we have nothing in common” and separation was imminent as the marriage seemed cold and empty. So much alike and now so far apart.
I’ve heard that a person’s personality goes through significant changes every seven years. Obviously the changes happen over the seven year span. It’s not like you wake up on the 365th day of the seventh year and you are mysteriously ‘different’. I think we ‘shift’ as the days pass.
Renowned psychologist Dr. Kevin Leman, author of The Birth Order Book, writes that there is one trait that is in most sibling relationships. Two children that are side by side in the birth order will be opposites – totally different in likes and dislikes. It’s as if they react against the other and in trying to create their own identity. I wonder if this happens in a marriage as well.
I have a theory that I’d like to get a government grant to research some day. I think in marriage relationships we polarize. I wonder if the natural response to living with another person is that you begin to not only recognize each other’s differences, but that you being to shift away. As one person in the relationship becomes more dominant in a specific trait the other person backs off in that trait. Its like a balancing-act that we fall into. It becomes a type of polarizing toward our natural bend. The differences that we liked in each other, the stabilizing factor in the relationship during the initial years, slowly polarizes over time and you become quite different.
So how do we deal with these differences? I can’t expect my hubby to like everything that I like. I don’t want to be a clone of him, either. We are different and respond to situations differently. By allowing each other the flex and freedom of expression and experiences, we build a relationship that allows room for diversity. We give each other autonomy while still focusing on our firm foundation of commitment to each other. Recognizing and celebrating the differences will replace criticism, frustration or isolation.
So, I went to the Olympics with all my children and we even added a cousin to our group for good measure. All six of us maneuvering through the streets of Vancouver… it was a blast. And although my husband didn’t attend the games, he had a series of meetings in the Vancouver area that day – so the scheduling worked out well. He happily drove us to the Olympic shuttle and wished us well as we headed out toward the crowds and hype.
He thinks I’m crazy to enjoy that type of stuff. I think he’s crazy to miss it. So… we agree. We’re both a bit crazy. Now that’s a common similarity, and we didn’t need a government grant to figure that out!
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