I don’t mean to suggest that I’ve been completely assimilated to her thinking though. My clay isn’t quiet as malleable as she’d like it to be.
It’s amazing how we ever ‘hooked up’ as the kids say (or do they say that any more?). I was a city boy, and she was a country girl. We met in college which, I guess by default, was the great equalizer. Nothing drives people together faster than hunger and loneliness.
I think there’s real truth to the adage that ‘opposites attract’. Maybe it’s a core desire to coax the other to your way of thinking, or if I was a romantic, I might say it’s the different way they gaze at the moon, but I think our differences might be more basic than that. I think we’re just intrigued by a different lens through which they see the world.
I love surprises – the good kind at least. No one likes the surprises you get in a hospital…”Surprise, we’re gonna have to go ahead and remove that digit after all”. Not a balloon and cheer kind of surprise.
No, I like birthday surprises. I really like surprising people! Maybe it’s a morbid fascination of watching the confusion and disbelief on their unsuspecting faces, but surprising people gives me great joy.
My wife? Not so much. In fact, since we first started dating, she regularly reminded me how much she doesn’t like surprises. She wants to see what’s coming, buster! There was and never will be any confusion about this. DO NOT SURPRISE HER!
But like those two bumbling guards in Monty Python’s The Holy Grail, simple instructions are completely lost on me, since surprises are fun…..for me. So, what did I do?
For my wife’s 40th birthday, I organized, with the help of a team of scheming friends, the most elaborate ruse ever concocted. It involved multiple levels of deception, fake parties, hotel bookings, real ‘parties’ to throw her off the scent, even included pseudo-friends that may have never existed, all in the name of….’SURPRISE’!
I’ll save you the gory details – the shock, the tears. It wasn’t a ‘happy surprise’.
But that’s the stuff of relationships. Our differences keep it exciting. Admittedly, sometimes horrible and regrettable differences, but exciting none the less.
We can even watch the exact same program and have totally divergent responses. Take ‘The Biggest Loser’ for example. We sit and watch the show. My lovely suggests we need to take out the bikes and get into shape. I watch the same show and think ‘Gee, I’m in awesome shape compared to these guys – I’m gonna make some popcorn to celebrate my superb health’.
I’m a glass half-full kind of guy, I guess – fun first! If we have a busy day lined up, and the weather is nice, I’ll always say ‘fun first’! Lets get outside and enjoy the beautiful day – the work can wait.
While this sounds very ‘in the moment’ and cheery, there’s a big downside to always eating the dessert first. It means that nothing important really gets done. Housework; laundry, cleaning, getting groceries, etc., get pushed back, and you end up living in a crazy, chaotic world that just might end up on a TLC show.So, me being the ‘surprise me’ guy, needs an adult around to remind me to pay the bills, change the dryer lint trap, and put my clothes away. That’s my wife’s role, and she’s good at it.
It’s a terrible job to have – at least it seems like it to me – always being the voice of reason. The practical one. The huge payoff of practicality is almost never fully appreciated, is it? Our house is mostly tidy, we can find stuff like wallets, keys, and phones, and there’s usually enough food in the fridge to make a meal with.
You don’t notice if your keys are where you left them, but you sure do if they’re not!
Lists! My sweet bride makes lists. Grocery lists, ‘honey-do’ lists, reminder lists. For big upcoming events, I’ve even seen her make lists of lists. Sometimes they’re disguised as sweet notes, but they’re still lists: ‘Kids, don’t forget to walk the dog, put on your laundry, and put your dirty dishes in the sink. Love, Mommy – xoxo’.
I’m big enough to acknowledge that those lists are helpful – they keep us on track. And I have to admit, they help me to figure out what needs to be done so I can go and play…a touch of order in my chaos.
It’s those opposing forces that create this weird and beautiful balance in our marriage. Mix a little salt in the chocolate milk and you get an unexpectedly great taste. Those contrasting flavours bring out something more delicious than the ingredients would be on their own.
Now, don’t misunderstand me. My darling loves having fun, too! She can party and laugh with the best of them. Few things please her more than relaxing by the pool with a glass of wine. It just needs to be prioritized amongst the ‘must do’s’, or it won’t be enjoyable for her. I get that.
And that’s exactly what this goofball needs. The Yang to my Yin.
Maybe trying to figure each other out is part of the joy and mystery of our marriage. Maybe we aren’t supposed to be able to correctly predict what the other is thinking. We should, at least, love and respect our partner for what they bring to this dance we call marriage. We should thank God for giving us the strength to bare our souls in trust to another human being, even if that other human being doesn’t understand us.
My Yang is exactly what this Yin needs. And that surprise party? Well, in the end, we had an awesome time with our friends. I also had to swear on my life never to pull a stunt like that again! Sweet Yang!