“Alright, it’s Saturday!” my husband said, clapping his hands together. “Time to get stuff done!”
I opened my eyes a crack and gave him a mix between an eye roll and a glare.
You see, my definition of a perfect Saturday is sleeping in. Waking up to my kids watching cartoons, allowing me to relish each sip of coffee. And of course, all of us still in our jammies at noon.
My husband’s definition of a perfect Saturday? Housework. Errands. Checking things off the to-do list.
It’s easy to see why our different perspectives may cause some friction and head-butting.
It didn’t take us a long time to realize we were very different. While we were dating, Stuart held a 9-5 job at Huntington Bank. I worked for Cru High School, where my job didn’t begin until the school bell rang at 3 p.m. Stuart was an early bird; I was a night owl. My work with high schoolers allowed me to live my perfect schedule: work into the evening and then sleep in until 9 or 10 a.m.
But once we got married and our lives joined together, these schedules caused us to be passing ships in the night and day. And that wasn’t the only place of friction.
When we said “I do,” those words brought with them subconscious expectations of what we each thought marriage would look like. And let me tell you, they were not the same picture.
I am a spender. Stuart is a saver. I like to eat out. Stuart likes home-cooked meals. (Saves money!) I like lazy Saturdays (see above). Stuart likes productive Saturdays. I like to read. Stuart likes to watch sports. And we both do NOT like the other activity. You can guess how much conflict this causes around March each year…
When opposites attract: differences can complement each other
It’s taken Stuart and me a long time to learn how our differences can truly complement each other, giving our marriage well-rounded completeness. As a Type-A, task-oriented person, Stuart helps me stay on time and on task. He helps me stick to our budget. (Or he tries to at least.) He loves to fix things around our house, where I don’t know how to fix squat.
As a Type-B, people-oriented person, I help Stuart relax, choosing to spend time with our boys over doing the dishes and giving people the benefit of the doubt.
But there are still times when we miscommunicate or don’t see eye to eye. But we’ve spent time and effort putting tools in our toolbelt to help us in those moments. We’ve been in and out of marriage counseling, and we’ve taken and processed through assessments such as CliftonStrengths/CoreClarity, the Enneagram, and Meyers-Briggs. This helps give us a dialect we can both understand in the moments we speak different languages.
When I need Stuart to “sit” in an emotion, feeling, or hurt with me, he now knows how to do so. In the past, his immediate response would come from his strength of restoring broken things. He’d want to tell me how to fix whatever it is I’m feeling or experiencing. And while that isn’t a wrong response, it’s not what I need at the moment and leaves me feeling misunderstood and like a problem to be fixed.
Women tend to experience a lot of emotions and feelings, and I’m definitely in that camp. I’m thankful through counseling and processing together, Stuart has learned how to simply sit and listen when I need him to. Then, when I’m ready to hear possible ideas for resolution, he’s ready to share something he’s really good at with me.
How to make your differences work
Our marriage proves “opposites attract” to be true, but it doesn’t come easy. That saying should actually be: “Opposites attract, and they also butt heads, disagree, and cause conflict. But with work, understanding, and humility, opposites can complement each other well.”
If you’re in an “opposites attract” marriage and experiencing more conflict than complementing, don’t despair. You can still be opposites and have a loving, understanding, well-rounded marriage.
Ask for help. Go to counseling. OVER-communicate. (That’s literally a recommendation from our counselor!) Share your feelings instead of pointing the finger. Figure out ways to appreciate the differences in your spouse. Learn how to help instead of instruct.
If we can do it, you can too. Please don’t go straight to the “D” word (divorce). Prove the statistics wrong. Differences aren’t bad. They’re just that: different. You fell in love and married a person different than you for a reason. Don’t give up on those reasons. Work through them and fight for each other daily. I promise you it’s not in vain.
Copyright © 2022 Jenn Grandlienard. All rights reserved.
Jennifer Grandlienard lives in Xenia, Ohio, with her husband, two sons, and puppy. She loves to read, write, and help others discover their unique talents through her leadership development business, Jenn Grand Consulting. You can follow her at @heyjenngrand on Instagram or on her website jenngrand.com.