My husband and I are polar opposites. In fact, we are so different, that if you filled a room with a million people and plucked two out at random, they would most likely have far more in common than we do. Metaphorically speaking, I am the chalk and he is the cheese. No, wait! My love for extra cheese with every meal surely means that I am the cheese and that unbearable squeaky chalk ripping its way down the chalkboard can only represent the annoyance that is my husband. Regardless of who is who, it’s clear to say, we couldn’t be more different from one another.
But as popular belief suggests, do opposites really attract? Or are we one chalk squeak away from marital ruin?
It’s an age-old concept, one that has been batted around for centuries and centuries. In terms of physics, opposites very much DO attract! It is commonly known that two positives fields will not produce energy. A negative and a positive, on the other hand, can make sparks fly. But is this more a scientific principle than a romantic one? And if the latter, can they stay together without driving each other insane?
Let me tell share with you, my own experience…
When I first met my husband – many moons ago – there were no flying sparks. The time did not stand still. Nor did we catch eyes in a crowded room and fall instantly in love. We didn’t even fall head over heels, but rather, we fell drunkenly into each other’s arms. And the rest, as they say, was history! This meeting of hearts didn’t take place in the most romantic of settings, in fact, we met in a rather modest seedy nightclub. Cheesy music filled the smoke infested air and we couldn’t hear a word that departed each other’s lips. This didn’t seem to matter, the music spoke for us, and suddenly, it was 6.00 am and all that remained was a white wife-beater vest on the left side of my bed. Fortunately, we swapped digits and our one night of passion soon turned into a lifetime of love and romance squabbling and disagreements.
It didn’t take me long to realise that we were two very different people. Forget being on different pages, we were from entirely different books! On our first date, he talked about his love of travel. He reeled off a list of countries I hadn’t even heard of, let alone travelled to. In fact, most of what escaped his lips made me stare at him vacantly, my aching brain advising me “Just nod and agree!” And while I was happy to read tasteless gossip mags, he loved nothing more than to sit down with a lengthy book about Rome. “Is Rome in Greece?” I’d ask, endeavouring to show an interest. His eyes rolled.
In fact, my husband is so well-read that our living room walls are practically a tribute to his vast library of books. I, on the hand, was never a great reader. I’ve read approximately FIVE books in my lifetime (at my own leisure, that is!) and three of those five books were from the ‘50 shades of Grey’ collection. I rest my case.
Books aside, I’ll never forget the time his mother and I first met. Unfortunately, he forgot to send me the ‘momma memo’, thus, I wasn’t exactly dressed for the occasion. So there I was, my 19-year-old self, sporting none other than a pair of short shorts while my future mother-in-law choked on her Earl Grey tea. And as I stirred my regular PG Tips, I could see the disappointment in her eyes, the portholes to her soul. A soul that just so happened to be screaming “Why did my son choose you!?” It was at this moment when the porcelain came crashing to the ground and it became ever more apparent that we from completely different worlds.
But despite all the odds against us, 10 years on, we are not only still together, but we are married too.
Our relationship isn’t exactly conventional. We have this love/hate relationship. The sort of love/hate relationship in which we yearn to strangle one another. And by strangle, I mean the type of loving strangle Homer gives Bart when he’s been misbehaving. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I look at my husband and feel so overwhelmed by love, my heart skips a beat. But then again, there are also times when I freeze in my tracks, paralysed by the enormity that “marriage is for life”. It is at this point when reality slaps me full force across the face and I ask myself “What the heck am I doing with this man?”
When Ambitious Meets Not So Ambitious…
My husband is one of the most ambitious people I know. He constantly strives towards his greatest potential. He always goes the extra mile, even if that extra mile lands him at death’s door *Coughs* …Iraq! At 25-years-old, after years of working a job he loathed, he found his calling in life – to be a humanitarian. He enrolled on a university course months later and hasn’t looked back since. And then there’s me. Mrs I just want to be a housewife and bake shit! 28-years-old and still doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life. But wait, stop playing those woeful violins! I like to bake shit! (Not literally.)
…When the oven is my friend, that is!
Can it work?
Are you more ambitious or motivated than your partner, or perhaps vice-versa? While some might see this as a red flag that the relationship is not ‘equal’, others might see it as a positive.
Let me explain…
Whilst your partner is doing whatever it is highflying, career people do, do you ever feel guilty for not pushing yourself a bit more? And while they talk about things that are not even a part of your vocabulary, do you ever feel out of your depth? If the answer is yes, then rest assure, this is completely natural. But perhaps this isn’t such an issue after all? For example, take two success-driven people. It’s commonly known that with successful careers come added stress and tension. Now, just imagine that stress and tension doubled. And not forgetting a pinch of jealousy and rivalry. This sound more like a recipe for disaster, than one of success.
On the other hand, if one-half of the couple is ambitious and the other isn’t, this might just even things out and perhaps have a positive effect on both sides. The ambitious person’s enthusiasm might rub off on the not so ambitious person, not only motivating them to take risks they wouldn’t usually take, but also inspiring them to push themselves more. My husband’s “Why don’t you do this? Why don’t you do that?” springs to mind. Furthermore, the less ambitious person might keep the ambitious person grounded and encourage them to adopt a more relaxed approach of life.
When Fantasist Meets Realist…
My husband is a fantasist. A dreamer with vibrant visions of how to make the world a better place. A modern day and slightly less fabled Gandhi, if you will (minus the flip-flops and the mustache.) In stark contrast, I am a realist. A down-to-earth pragmatist who has a slight intolerance to all that ‘airy fairy’ BS. Who cries a little bit inside when her husband claims that he has “A great idea!”
“No! I’m not moving to a war-torn third world country.”
“No, we aren’t adopting a Syrian amputee.”
“And no, we are absolutely not spending what little life savings we have on an orphanage for the blind.”
Call me cold-hearted, but my logical mind tells me these ‘visions’ aren’t as tangible as they play inside my husband’s illusory mind. His dreams of saving the world are really quite enchanting, but at times, make me want to take a pan to his head! Just as I want to take a pan to my OWN head when he watches hours and hours’ worth of Game of Thrones. This is the man who didn’t shed a tear at the birth of our children, but who not only wailed when Jon Snow was stabbed and left for dead but also went into mourning for DAYS after! My rational mind boggles at the thought of someone getting so emotional over something that ISN’T EVEN REAL! What can I say? Fiction is lost on me, it really is.
Can it work?
So your partner has dreams of backpacking across Asia, but you’re happy doing the norm. How’s it going to work? All couples are different in one way or the other, but the troublesome differences are those that come in the form of conflicting wavelengths. If a couple isn’t reading from a similar page – or the same book – for that matter, then it’s probable that there will be a lack of mutual understanding. When there is a lack of mutual harmony, the relationship can become discordant, or worst still, stuck and unable to move forwards. Whether the relationship can become ‘unstuck’ is a matter for each couple to determine. We all have different deal breakers, but generally there are relatively few that are truly “irreconcilable.” If one person has no desire to have children and the other wants a station waggon full of kids, for example, it’s unlikely the relationship will work unless there is room for negotiation. But as one can imagine, it’s much harder to compromise such a life changing decision than it is to negotiate, say, a location move. Worst case scenario, things could arrive at a non-negotiable impasse, and consequently, leave little chance for ‘meeting in the middle.’
But are all these compromises and negotiations a hindrance? Not necessarily. Opposites can serve to bring out a new and improved side of each person. Sometimes, if you’re in a rut, you just need a new perspective. So what could be better than dating someone who, by default, thinks differently from you? Furthermore, healthy debate and differing opinions can bring added spark to a relationship. Wait a minute…do you mean all these drawn-out disputes I keep having with my husband are actually enriching our relationship? Apparently so…
“Couples who fight often are more likely stronger than couples who do not. But it’s not the fighting that makes them stronger. It’s what takes place after the fighting. The making up. It’s coming to the realisation that your relationship is more important than your differences. It involves acts like forgiveness and acceptance of ones mistakes. You fight, and you learn something new about the person. That’s how it works. Real relationships aren’t perfect, and perfect relationships aren’t real” – Unknown.
When Messy Meets Tidy…
I wouldn’t describe myself as obsessive compulsive in the cleaning department, but I do like things just so. Everything has its place, and therefore, everything should remain in its place! Heaven forbid if a picture frame hangs slightly more to the left or the rug is askew. That little nagging voice inside my head makes its entrance and quietly begins to murmur “Must straighten picture frame!”, “Must straighten rug!” As one can imagine, living with three messy children, this little voice makes a regular occurrence in my day-to-day life. However, this once ‘little’ nagging voice becomes overwhelmingly deafening when my husband comes home and an unrelenting fog horn of ‘musts’ starts to invade my once-peaceful mind…
“MUST put cushions back in rightful position!”
“MUST place coaster at correct angle!”
“MUST put phone back on hook!”
“MUST pick clothes up from the floor!”
“MUST put toilet seat up!”
And my favourite…
“MUST beat husband with a stick!”
I’m joking, of course.
My husband is a tornado of destruction. You know when he’s been in a room, because everything will everywhere and nothing will be in its place. From massacres in the toilet to crime scenes in the sink, mess seems to follow him wherever he goes. In fact, he seems to have a laundry pile sprouting from his backside with every step taken. But it doesn’t stop there; when he cooks a meal – which is all well and nice – he will ruin the ‘wellness‘ and the ‘niceness‘ by using EVERY SINGLE pot and pan possible and assigning me to washing-up duty. And don’t get me started on his inability to close doors. It’s a basic concept; you open a cupboard, you close it again. You open a drawer, you close it again. You open the door…you get my drift! And yet, my husband still can’t seem to grasp it. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve nursed a throbbing head after walking straight into the back of a cupboard door. Clunk! There goes my head again, along with my tolerance for the closed-door phobic!
Can it work?
Some people are naturally tidy; books alphabetized by author, for example. Clothes not only neatly folded but colour-coded, too. Dishes and glassware carefully arranged by size – All common traits of a tidy person. And then there are people who aren’t so tidy; piled up books and newspapers, stacks of accumulated dirty dishes, and clothes tossed into the wardrobe without a thought about arrangement – these are generally the traits you will see in an untidy person.
When a tidy person meets a tidy person, it’s a win-win situation. And likewise, when a messy person meets an equally as messy person. But what happens when an anal-retentive, clean–freak meets someone with a “why clean now when you can clean tomorrow!” attitude? Surely this is a recipe for disaster? A disaster that has ‘tension, conflict and resentment’ written all over it. But maybe a misplaced sock doesn’t have to spell the end of a relationship.
Neatness and messiness are not generally issues of right and wrong, they are matters of personal preferences and tendencies. Therefore, each couple’s home should represent both partners’ styles. It’s only fair, right? People who tend to lean towards tidiness generally function in this way: When their space is cluttered, their minds feel cluttered. So when their partner moves in and the place is beginning to resemble that of a nuclear waste zone, there’s no wonder why cracks might start to form. The only way to resolve looming issues – apart from relentless nagging – is to learn to bend and adjust to a different style of living. I’m not suggesting you leave the dishes out until you catch a bacterial disease, but perhaps say to yourself “Maybe it’s okay if I don’t wash these dishes straight away!” or “I’m not going to die if my partners desk remains a mess!” Not only will this minimise conflict and disputes, but also, by allowing for a style that is different from your own, this will present to you an opportunity for growth. Compromise is the key to keeping your relationship afloat; you will simply have to learn how to communicate your needs with one another and make any necessary sacrifices along the way.
When Organised Meets Unorganised…
My husband isn’t the most organised of people. Whereas I like to plan ahead – noting down every little detail and familiarising myself with the where, what, how and when’s – he takes a more laid-back approach. So laid-back he’s practically horizontal. If he’s going abroad, for example, he’ll pack the morning of the flight without a bead of panic dripping down his cool as cucumber head. With no checklist in sight, he’ll pull the first things that come to hand into the suitcase and Voila! He will then spend the majority of his trip searching for all the things he forgot to pack, with great difficulty, because he can’t read Arabic. Furthermore, he’ll be wondering why his armpits are stuck to the sides of his body when he inadvertently mistakes a can of hairspray for deodorant. Ouch!
And if I hear “Mandy, have you seen my….?” Or “Mandy, where’s my…?” one more time, I’ll be ramming ‘requested object’ up his…
Moving swiftly on…
Worst still is when he thinks that he is no longer a part of the male species and has acquired the power of ‘multitasking’. Unfortunately, he is sadly mistaken. He is male, after all. As he rummages the car for those lost sunglasses or that missing Lucozade bottle, he’ll be veering us into the road’s edge while our lives flash before our eyes.
Can it work?
Near-death experiences aside, organisation – or lack of – shouldn’t be the be all and end all of a relationship. I mean, does it really matter if your partner is terrible at timekeeping or, on the contrary, insists that everything is alphabetized?
According to psychologists, we naturally gravitate towards individuals who have strengths which we are missing. Our natural attraction to our opposite is thought to be, a subconscious way of dealing with the weaker aspects of our own nature, and, therefore all the traits we need to work on in ourselves tend to be reflected to us through our partner. So there’s no surprise that when two opposites function as a couple, they become a better-rounded, functioning unit.
So, the next to you hear “Have you seen my….?” Just think. Your ‘organising skills’ should have an effect on them soon.
When Trash TV Lover Meets Documentary Enthusiast…
But our differences don’t come to a crashing end there, the list goes on. TV, for example, usually consists of designated times in which we can watch our own ‘crap’. Regrettably, my husband doesn’t share my soft spot for reality TV. Every programme is ruined by the relentless echoing of the all too familiar “Not this rubbish again!”
Likewise, I can barely keep my eyes open during his humanitarian-inspired documentaries. “Watch this, Mandy. You might learn something!” he’ll chirp, excitedly. Sadly, it’s too late. I’ve already slipped into a slothful slumber, watching an episode of ‘Made in Chelsea’ on the backs of my eyelids.
“Shall we watch a film?”
To an outsider, this might seem like a relatively easy affair, but for my husband and I, this isn’t the case. By the time we eventually agree on a film, the night will be over and it’s time to hit the sack. So what’s the problem? Whilst my husband likes guns, gangsters and more guns. Oh, and not forgetting zombies, aliens and robots, I enjoy something a little more light-hearted. You might say that I am a ‘typical women’, I like sappy romcoms and those cliché romantic dramas. Five minutes in, there’s one snoring husband dribbling on my shoulder and I’m annoyed that yet again I have no one to share that pinnacle moment in the film when the girl reveals she loved him all along and they smooch under starry skies.
Can it work?
Of course, it can work! Not only would it become incredibly tedious if you both liked the same stuff, but it could also prevent you from exploring new things.
When couples are too alike, it’s common to find they become bored or start to feel overly complacent in their relationships. The spark fizzles out, and before they know it, they’ve settled into an irreversible, monotonous routine. The benefit of being with someone you have very little in common with is that you’ll never, ever get bored. There will always be something new to explore about one another and you’re much more likely to be introduced to films, TV shows and music you never even knew existed. Now, I can’t say zombies and aliens are my thing, but I will admit to being occasional won over by a film I once turned my nose up at.
The most successful relationships are generally those that achieve the ideal balance between comfort/familiarity and newness/spontaneity. A relationship with your polar opposite will guarantee both. It takes a real connection to develop something deeper. You and your partner might not have everything in common when it comes to media tastes or hobbies, but who cares? You’ll know your relationship is based on more than just the surface-level things.
When High Libido Meets Not-So-High Libido…
But our differences don’t stop there. Even our sex drives are conflicting. Like many couples, in the prime of our relationship, we were at it like rampant rabbits. In fact, we didn’t stop. But as time went on, my rabbit lost its oomph, and suddenly, a hop in the bedroom department didn’t seem as appealing as kicking back in the grass and watching the clouds float by. As the years drifted by, sex slipped down the hierarchy of needs and pitched itself below food, sleep and …errr….watching television! I became a “Maybe Later” kind of girl, whilst my husband remained as horny as ever. This can prove quite problematic when I have one frisky husband who would do anything (I mean, anything!) to get into my ‘knickers’. Bribery used to work, until I sussed him out, “No, it’s okay… I’ll do the hoovering!” The puppy dog eyes and bosom- pawing had me for a while…
And of course, there was that time – while watching the rather disappointing ‘film version’ of 50 Shades of Grey – when he thought he would surprise me by provocatively rubbing a frozen chicken dipper up and down my shoulder in the grips of his teeth. Sadly, chicken dippers don’t really do it for me, and nor do remakes of perfectly good books!
Can it work?
The novelty and excitement of a new relationship can often mask sex drive imbalances. Years – or even months -down the line, when the sparks have died out and the beige underwear make an appearance, it becomes a case of the old “Same place, same time, same positions.” When you think of it in such terms – like some kind of military campaign – it’s hardly surprising that libido imbalance, or desire discrepancy, is such a common problem in long-term relationships. In fact, many sex therapists say it’s the problem they encounter most frequently in their work. Sex should be fun, exciting and most importantly, enjoyable. Not something we schedule into our busy diaries or avoid at all costs.
When one person desires sex more than the other it can cause tension and resentment on both sides. The person with the higher libido might feel rejected, whereas, the person with less of a libido could feel pressured, or even guilt. The important thing is to stop blaming each other for your biology and realise that the partner who wants more sex or less sex is not abnormal or in the wrong. After all, a healthy sex life isn’t about frequency, it’s about intimacy and connection.
Do Opposites attract?
I think it’s fair to say that my husband and I are living proof that opposites do indeed attract. And the fact that we – after all these years – haven’t driven each other to the point of no return or strangled the life out of each other, shows that opposites can ‘stick’ together, too.
What can I say? This unstoppable pull of magnetic force has our souls wrapped around each other and we are slowly morphing as one.
In fact, the things that once drove me to the brink of insanity, I now catch myself doing; leaving the phone off the hook, last minute packing and losing the TV remote for DAYS! I even enjoy the odd gangster movie and cup of Earl Grey, but even more so, I love giving my husband the shock of his life when I try to ‘jump his bones’. Oh, and that cupboard I left open, let’s call it “payback!”. Furthermore, my once convention dreams have now transformed into ones that involve road tripping around the world in a VW camper, experiencing new cultures and sleeping under the stars.
The truth is, my husband brings out the very best in me. The ‘inner free child’ I thought I’d never see again. The playful Amanda who doesn’t take life too seriously. The Amanda who isn’t afraid to explore new things. Who isn’t too scared to step out of her comfort zone.
Being attracted to your opposite isn’t simply about seeing sparks fly, it’s about developing our inner selves. It’s about compromising, understanding and extending oneself to include another. And most importantly, it’s about enjoying the other person’s company.
And the flaws, well, they just make things all the more interesting, right?
Some research suggests opposites can’t last, and some suggest they can. The reality is, differences are inevitable in all relationships. It’s just not possible to find another human being whose every quirk, habit, and preferences are aligned perfectly with yours. And what’s so bad about being different, anyway?
It’s important to remember that it’s ‘okay’ to be different. As long as you have a mutual respect and understanding for each other, love will find its way.
All things considered; not only do opposites attract, but they need each other. Because, after all…
“You can’t create a spark without friction!” – Amanda Lyle.