A guest post by Reclaimed Beauty (Heidi Dennis)
You’ve heard that old saying, “Opposites Attract?” Well I am here to tell you, in my experience, this couldn’t be more true. My husband and I have a lot of common interests together. We love to travel and scuba dive. He loves to cook and I love to eat. Guys, he even loves to go SHOPPING with me. Jackpot. I tried to take up cycling with him but that just ended up in him cycling quickly past me up a hill and calling back “encouraging” words to me while I muttered words under my breath at him that I don’t care to repeat. A lot of these similarities came through time, trial, and error. I still remember those tough conversations during the first year of our marriage when we looked at each other and asked, “Do we have ANYTHING in common?” (this may or may not have followed one of our failed cycling outings where I tearfully told him that I HATED cycling with a capital H. My husband would tell you that I was never that direct about it and just stopped going).
One of the areas that we differ the most in is how we handle conflict. My husband, God bless him, can debate with the best of them. He’s very good with ‘the words’ and not so much with ‘the feels’ (that’s where I come in). The first time that I cried in front of him, he awkwardly pat me on the shoulder and said, “You’re leaking!” When it comes to solving conflict, he is eager to talk it out. He has all of the bullet points locked and loaded (side-note: even his written out engagement proposal had bullet points in it detailing why he wanted to marry me. I love my little nerd).
For me, bullet points when it comes to conflict shut me down…FAST. As a self-proclaimed “feeler”, I have to sit and ponder how I feel about said conflict before I can even remotely try to solve it. I just know that something doesn’t “feel” right and it might take me a minute (or a thousand) to figure out what is bothering me and why. This leaves my poor husband feeling completely alone (abandoned even) while I’m off on my island figuring things out. On the flip side, I often feel attacked and cornered when my husband tries to talk about things before I am ready. I completely freeze. I swear, if you were to do a brain scan on me in that exact moment, the doctors would be coming by with those shock things to bring me back.
The truth of the matter is, I need my husband to push for resolution of our conflict. If he didn’t, I would continue to avoid it at all cost and then we would be in a real mess. I’d like to think he needs my sensitive side, too. When he approaches slowly and gently on my behalf and I lean in to engage instead of running away, we have two halves of a whole. Our differences balance each other out. I think that’s the way God created us- to need each other.
I am a firm believer that when we see each other’s differences as a bad thing, those are our worse days. However, when we see each other’s differences as an asset- something we need- then those are our best days. I need my husband’s consistency, for example, when disciplining our child and he needs my mercy. But, how incredibly hard this is to remember in the moment! I probably forget 95% of the time.
And if you think that it would be easier with another person, the truth is you will most likely run into the SAME patterns and pitfalls that you are in now. Once your relationship is faced with the normal day to day challenges, chances are you will run into the same types of patterns and struggles with the next one. Turns out, none of us are really easy to live with when real life comes knocking.
At the end of the day, differences are hard. But when we appreciate each other’s differences, then we are as strong as nails. So, what if you KNOW that you and your partner are a good match logistically, but you just aren’t “feeling it” anymore. In other words, you’ve lost that loving feeling. Tune in for Part 4 for more on that…