When you are young and learning about love and marriage and relationships, you always think about how much you want to have in common with that special someone in that far off future together. You think about how great and tremendous you are, so why wouldn’t you want to spend the rest of your life with essentially a mirror image of yourself? Wouldn’t that be so easy and glorious? Isn’t that what leads to that Disney Princess, fairy tale forever after happy ending?
People say things like “opposites attract” and while it makes for a nice quote and a fun comparison to magnets and atoms, it seems nonsensical. Why would two people who are opposite want to spend significant time together? Wouldn’t that be a lot of work and a lot of bumping of heads? Wouldn’t that lead to “problems”? There certainly is no room for any of that in the fairy tale ending, at least not that they show in the movies.
But at some point, one starts to realize that maybe they aren’t God’s gift to the world. They might even have some (*gasp*) flaws! They might look at other people and wish they there were parts of other people’s personalities that they wish that they had a little more of. And if they are lucky, they will have committed themselves to a partner who has just some of those “opposite” characteristics.
Susie and I have known each other for almost 17 years now and started dating about 13 years ago. I have always realized that there were parts of each other that were exact opposite, but I never really thought much about those characteristics. At first, I just thought that she was cute and fun and driven to succeed, just like me. Okay, maybe we just had one of those things in common (I’ll let you guess which one!) but either way, I didn’t think very much about why I liked her so much, I just knew that I wanted to be around her as much as I possibly could and pretty quickly figured out that I wanted to marry her.
If there was any thought about “opposites” it was those nights when we would go out with our friends. On those nights, we would invariably end up somewhere late into the night with Susie excitedly talking with her friends, while I would quietly float to the back and watch repeats of SportsCenter on one of the bar’s televisions. I was perfectly content to be there and wished I could be more like her. I had always wanted to be the life of the party and someone that people gravitated to, but that was never really me. I was just happy to be in the orbit of someone who was.
Only in the past few years have I really reflected on those days, as well as the days since then. when I look back on it now, I can see how there are so many places that we are opposites. She is an extrovert and loves to be on the go. Despite my efforts to mask it, I am an introvert. My ideal vacation would be to go somewhere by ourselves and commence to sit around doing nothing but reading books and taking naps. On occasion, I used to think “Why do we have to be on the go all the time? Slow down!” But I don’t think that way any more. I can’t point to the exact moment when it happened, but I realized that one of the things I love and appreciate the most about my wife is how opposite from me she is. Being around a clone of me all the time would be pretty boring and nothing would probably ever get done. (On the plus side, nothing would ever be lost with the services of not one, but two super finders extraordinaire!)
There are so many experiences that I never would have had without Susie pushing me just a little bit beyond my comfort zone. Cramming every experience possible into a trip to New York City or Boston or a surprise trip to Philadelphia. Tapping into the small bits of creativity that I have. Talking with people and putting myself out there when I would normally rather slip into the background. Not being afraid of the unknown and uncomfortable. Cheering me on towards every step in my career, even when I wasn’t sure if I was worthy to take that step.
When you are immature and don’t know any better, you hone in on a partner who has things that are agreeable to you. But if you are lucky, you will also find someone who disagrees with you, pushes you to be better and helps you grow into a more complete person. Growing is hard and sometimes there are bumps in the road, but there is no one else I would rather share the road with. I don’t know exactly where the road leads from here, but I know it is going to be filled with so many things that I would never have imagined being a part of all on my own. Although I am pretty sure that we won’t ever agree about where the best parking spots are.