Ever since I entered into a dating relationship with my husband, people have always commented on how compatible we are. I suppose this is true – with some deviations, we have similar tastes in TV shows and movies, we love a lot of the same books, we both studied history in college, and we have similar senses of humor. But it always catches me off guard when people say stuff like that to me – especially when they say things like “You guys are the most compatible couple that I know.” I always say thanks and accept this as it is offered – a compliment – but internally, I’m cocking my head to the side, scratching my head, and asking “Really?”
Because, truth be told, often I feel like my husband and I are the least compatible people on the planet. If we made a Venn diagram of our relationship, I think that the portion that represented what we have in common would be rather small.
Obviously, we’re similar in a lot of ways. In addition to stuff I mentioned before, we are also on the same page as far as the big four go:
- Religion – we’re both Christians, and to take that even further, both protestants
- Politics – we have some disagreements here and there, but when it’s all said and done, we’re both libertarians
- Future – we have the same end goal in mind
- Kids – we both want kids, and want the same amount
These are things that couples need to more or less agree on. There can obviously be discrepancies – no two people will have identical opinions or wishes or beliefs – but you need to at least be in the same ballpark. I’m sure that there are people out there who have made relationships work without having these factors in line, and that is great – I just don’t know if I would personally be able to handle it.
But past these things, and the superficial things that we both love like CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien and American history and grammar, we really have nothing in common.
If anything we are polar opposites.
I am emotional. Very, very emotional. Have you seen this video with the little girl crying when she finds out that babies grow into adult humans? Yeah, I have weird little meltdowns like that – not in public, and not over babies growing (at least not yet – get back to me when I’m a mom) – but…yeah. Emotional.
My husband, on the other hand, is extremely logical. So logical, in fact, that I have more than once referred to him as my own personal Mr. Spock.
From the outside looking in, this may seem less important than having the same interests and activities. So I cry, and he doesn’t. What’s the big deal?
But I’m going to get real with you – the few times that we do argue or fight are always rooted in this difference. Emotionality vs. logic. Feelings vs. facts. The reason is that this seemingly simple part of our personalities dominates so much about us – the way we think, the way we make decisions, the way we speak. The way we live.
It took us a while to realize that this was really what our arguments are about, and not about where we are going to dinner or whether or not someone washed the dishes. (Tip for those who are not yet married: it is never about those things.) We figured out early on in our marriage that that’s where the problem was coming from, but for some reason it still kept popping up.
“You don’t understand me!” and “Why else would you do that?”
It finally hit me during one of our arguments. I was crying and feeling sorry for myself, licking my wounds, when it came to me, a thought unbidden:
I was trying to make my husband in my own image.
Instead of trying to interpret his behavior through the perspective of his personality, his way of thinking, I was holding him up to an impossible standard, a rubric crafted by my personality, my way of thinking. I was trying to cram him into a mold shaped like me, and when he didn’t fit, I took it out on him. I was creating expectations that were lofty and silly as well as impossible, and when he didn’t measure up, I took it out on him.
And while I don’t speak for him by any means, I think he realized that he had been doing the same thing to me.
For quite a while, I let myself disdain these characteristics that were different. I let myself believe that because I did not understand or could not relate to them, that they were somehow wrong. That could not be further from the truth.
Compatibility is a great way to initially connect, to break the ice, but it is not the end-all be-all that everyone seems to think it is. It is easy to love someone that is nearly identical to you in personality and thought and opinion, because that’s basically like loving yourself – something that humans do entirely too well. What is hard – and ultimately more meaningful – is loving someone wholly, as they are. Not piecemeal, not hypothetically, not wishfully. Simply.
So here it goes.
This is my husband. He is thoughtful and kind and generous and funny and witty (two different things – I’m not budging on that). He is loving and serious and passionate and sweet and patient and eats anything I put before him. He loves all things mechanical and can name 99% of any car or motorcycle that passes before him within seconds. He is brusque and direct and logical.
And I love him.