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Why Opposites Attract

I wonder about the quality of marriages when both partners are too similar. It’s one thing to have similar interests but an entirely different matter to have the same personality types and temperaments. It might make for smooth relationships but over time many people find these match-ups are boring. Comfort can be good, but complacency is not. Growth is even better, and relationships comprised of opposite personalities bring many opportunities to approach life from different perspectives.

Why opposite attract
The new and novel intrigue us. That’s why some of us are drawn to mates with traits that we lack. My very methodical husband felt charmed by my joyful whimsy while I marveled at his reliable productivity. He was my steady foundation while I added surprise and discovery to his bachelor life. And where I was weak, he was strong. Where he lacked optimism, I offered eternal hope. Without getting deep into the biological and psychological reasons why humans tend to be attracted to opposites, I can offer you my own theory that is based on a more spiritual thought. To me, it seems to be clear and simple that we look for a mate to complete us, not replicate us. Like two halves to make up a whole, differences are vital.

Cherishing our differences
The unfortunate part about marriage is that we mistakenly believe that we our mates should become like us. We think that to become one, we need to become alike. I finally recognized that our marriage is amazing because we are different! We cover for each other’s weaknesses with our strengths. We teach and learn from each other’s strengths. We forgive our weaknesses because we know that is why we were matched up in the first place, like a good team.

“I’ll handle this one.”
“Can you make this problem go away?”
“I need your advice.”
“Leave this to me.”
“I got your back, honey.”

It took some time for us to understand that we think differently, and that is okay. We need to allow each other to approach life as we choose. Once my husband complained that I was like a butterfly, flitting from activity to activity, taking a joyful, meandering route to my goal while he was the task-oriented bee who honed in on the end result at the expense of anything else in his life. Where once it charmed him, over time it aggravated him. “It’s true that I am a butterfly and you are a bee,” I agreed. “But both the butterfly and the bee pollinate the earth.” He laughed and agreed.

Living and loving someone who is very different from yourself brings opportunities for personal growth. You’re forced to see just how patient you are. You face your own shortcomings of intolerance or self-centeredness. Does he have to be like you or have your approval in order to deserve your love? Seeing life through the eyes of someone who is different from you expands your life experience, too.

When married couples talk about their marital woes, they often cite their differences. It takes maturity and love to accept your mate as is. You may not always like your spouse’s choices or habits, but you don’t have to. Just as you want to be allowed to be who you are without needing anyone else’s approval, allow your mate the same. Try to appreciate your differences and use your strengths to the advantage of your marriage. Together, become whole.

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Content copyright © 2013 by Lori Phillips. All rights reserved.
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