How I stay married to my total opposite– and you can too

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Are you married? In a long term partnership? What are your thoughts on a healthy marriage?

Marriage is defined by Merriam Webster as: “the state of being united as spouses in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law.”

Here are some famous thoughts on marriage:

Homer
“There is nothing nobler or more admirable than when two people who see eye to eye keep house as man and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends.”

Robert C. Dodds
“The goal in marriage is not to think alike, but to think together.”

Pearl S. Buck
“A good marriage is one which allows for change and growth in the individuals and in the way they express their love.”

Rainer Maria Rilke
“A good marriage is that in which each appoints the other guardian of his solitude.”

https://www.thoughtco.com/quotes-about-marriage-2832679

For those that know my husband and I… I would be hard-pressed to find two people more different who are happily married. They say opposites attract, and that is definitely the case with us. To be fair, we have a good amount of common interests in music, television, etc. But personality-wise? Here’s the basics:

Jen

  • Introvert
  • Bookworm
  • Bipolar, struggles with fatigue and anxiety
  • Shy
  • Sensitive
  • Loves sappy songs, books, and movies
  • True crime junkie
  • Fitness lover

Ken

  • Not necessarily an extrovert, but he is an outgoing introvert.  He loves social gatherings.  Or at least, can fake it better than me.
  • Not really a reader.  He does listen to audiobooks about history, but that’s pretty much it
  • Mentally normal, by and large
  • He is the life of the party
  • Very logical, and not cold, but doesn’t think with his heart
  • NOT sappy
  • Finds true crime media distressing
  • Not a big exercise fan

Someone might look at this list, and think, “There’s no way these people like each other. They’ve got to be miserable.”

Did you find yourself thinking that?

Yes, there are the occasional moments where I am looking for the nearest bus to push him in front of. But mostly? We are happily married, and make it work.  Why?

Compromise

I feel like good old fashioned compromise is a still too-often overlooked skill in modern marriages. 2018/2019 is a time of strong opinions, keyboard warriors, and “black and white” interpersonal relationships.  We feel so strongly about so many things, that sometimes this habit of “my way or the highway” trickles into the bedroom.  And not in a fun, exciting way, either. We are losing the art of meeting each other in the middle.

So what is compromise? Compromise is a dance of give and take. It is meeting someone in the middle for the sake of your relationship, even if it is a little uncomfortable.

EXAMPLE: I’m gonna be blunt and say I hate going to parties.  I could genuinely love and cherish every single person there, but twenty or thirty of them in a room, with music so loud you can’t even hear each other talk? I’d rather just hang out with like 1-2 people at a time.

Ken (whether he genuinely enjoys large gatherings or not) makes it freaking work. He charmingly engages people in conversation, can somehow make himself heard over the din of the latest EDM track, and leaves with energy to spare. So, when we get invited places, how do we make it work?

Marriage life hack

Ken has learned an amazing tool to make parties tolerable for me.  It sounds stupid but it’s simple: He tells me ahead of time how long we are staying.

This is INVALUABLE for introverted people or those with social anxiety.  If I know we will get there around 7 and leave around 10 for example, it is much easier. On the other hand, over the years, I have learned that it means a lot to him (especially if it is his social circle, not mine) if I attempt to push past my anxiety.

So, to make him happy, I try to make conversation with 1 or 2 new people while he is talking to someone else.  This shows him that I value his love of social time, whereas his giving our night out a time limit shows that he validates my anxiety and love of quiet.

It’s not perfect, and I could certainly come up with numerous other examples in which compromise fits into our married life. (We ogle other attractive people without judgment because we’re human beings!)

Acceptance

Another word that defines our married life is acceptance.

How would you define acceptance? I define it as looking at everything that makes a person whole (their looks, their strengths, their weakness, their likes, their dislikes, etc.), and not holding any of it against them.

Ken has mastered the art of acceptance. It isn’t easy to be married to someone with a mental illness. I’m not just sad sometimes. I am anxious. I am tired. Sometimes, I am irritable. I’m not what most people picture when they picture their ideal spouse.

What does he do? He focuses on the other things that make up my personality. Thankfully, he sees me as more than just my illness. He sees my love for the kids. My love for him. My nerdiness. He sees my resilience. My strength.

On the other side of the coin, he isn’t perfect either. But I accept him. I see him as a separate person, not just some extension of me. I think that is really important. Just because we are married doesn’t mean he is my property or something I am duty-bound to control. He is a person. He has wants and needs that I might not always understand, but make up who he is.

marriage, healthy marriage, stay married

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Are you struggling in your marriage? I recommend the book “The 5 Love Languages.” Knowing my husband’s love language has really helped me understand him and relate to him better. It is a must read, not just for married couples, but for anyone in a committed relationship.

What word do you feel defines your partnership? What word do you feel like could use a little work? Share with me in the comments below!

Make sure you share this post! You never know who it could help.

Looking for a safe space to talk about mental health and connect with others? Join my free private Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1206005752776704/

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3 thoughts on “How I stay married to my total opposite– and you can too”

  1. I think it’s important, in this climate of online dating where you’re matched on “compatibility”, to remember it’s OK for you and your partner to be different! My husband likes sport and I like culture, he’s practical and I’m creative. But those things compliment each other. And we share key principles and ideals. So it’s all good!

  2. Great post! My husband and I have very similar traits as you guys, and a bunch of differences down to our occupations. Thank you for sharing this solid advice! I agree with everything.

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