"If you’re in relationship, I invite you to ask yourself this question: “Why am I choosing my partner today?” Bryan Reeves
I was asked the other day (and a few weeks back by two different people) how as passionate people, with extremely different personalities, Matt and I have made it to (almost) year 28 of our marriage, and year 30 of being together without killing each other. My snarky remark would be, "why in the world would I want to re-train someone?"
My honest answer is, it's not always easy.
After all, we are complete opposites. He is the yin, I am the yang... I talk a lot, he listens. Our love languages don't always blend well together, I am a communicative and physically demonstrative person; he is a service giving person. We've had to learn through trial and error how to make those two languages blend tightly together. We've learned to let things go, we've learned to go to different corners of the house, to think over our responses before we say something we might regret. We've learned to continue on and push through the difficulties because, we choose everyday. Let me repeat that: we choose every; single; day; to be together.
You might have noticed my use of the semicolon to stop and pause those words. It's intentional. Sometimes you have to stop, pause, and think about what you want to accomplish, move on with those steps in mind, or stagnate and let a relationship die. This is what happens the majority of the time, when a marriage (or any relationship) gets beyond the honeymoon period and you haven't figured out how to blend your different upbringings together.
Some people chose to get divorced, others choose to coexist and revolve around each other. The more successful marriages, i think, might coexist for a bit, then plug on through to relearning to love each other.
In other words, they chose to find qualities they love about their spouse and focus solely on that, until they can over look the things that bother them and rediscover the other things they loved about their spouse from the start. Longevity is about give and take. Sometimes you give and other times you take, but you can NEVER, EVER, be the only one giving, or be selfish enough to only be taking, or you become unresponsive to the other spouses feelings and the connection can severe and die away permanently.
Ask our children, it wasn't always sunshine and flowers. There were tears, yelling, silent treatments and trying to push the other person to be like ourselves. Trying to get him to think the way I did. Him trying to get me to be as active as he was. When an extremely active, wilderness loving person marries a bookworm, who is content to soak up the rays at the beach, compromise is needed. This makes for growing pains from each person in the relationship. Growth is a good thing. Not always when you don't want to and especially not on someone else timetable. Tears I tell you, lots and lots of tears...
Moving often didn't help. I would just get settled into my herd of friends; the house decorated the way I liked; the kids doing great in school and after school programs batted up and flowing daintily, and bam! off we'd go to another town in another state. I thrive on socializing with people, I don't thrive on change per se. I would pray a lot that our move was what was best for each of us and like Ruth, "Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay," my place was with my husband whom I loved.
Communication is key. This is what the experts say and I completely agree.
I tend to want to communicate through a problem, "If there's a problem, Yo, I'll solve it." sorry, certain words always shoot off a song in my head...
I'm sure it drives my "think before you speak husband" absolutely batty when I push to get him to face my way of slamming through the problem, from the second I see there is a problem. I, going to be straight up blunt and honest here, have a personality that doesn't handle criticism well. I blame being a Gemini and an Extroversion Intuitive (and Sensory: I equal out on that and Intuitive. I think it depends on my mood on the day I've taken the Myer-Briggs test) Feeling Perception. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. This makes communication hard when talking to me. Luckily I married a man, who over the years, has learned how to "handle" me when I need refocusing. I don't like the word correction, it sounds like a parent is disciplining a child. He is not my parent, I am not his child, even if I act like one sometimes. 😉
Like I said, he is the Yin, I am the Yang, or as Rocky Balboa says, “I dunno, she's got gaps, I got gaps, together we fill gaps.” Matt fills my gaps. He is steady, strong, sincere, and stalwart. I am mind blazing, full steam ahead, all over the place. I tend to have a hard time focusing on any one thing. He has helped me to learn to focus and complete tasks before starting on something new when it comes to serious ambitions, say like work or school; besides that, I am all about playing and having fun. I'm a "jack of trades and a master of none". Luckily for me, I tend to pick things up easily. Unluckily, I want to try everything, so I tend to move on to step 1050 when I should really be on step 2: Come on people, The big picture is visualized, let's not have to plan it to death, let's just get It done, before I lose interest!! That is my thinking, why waste time when you know what you want to accomplish.
As Nike's logo says, "Just do it!". This drive my husband, the planner, nuts. He sees the big picture, but wants to make sure all the steps aren't missed or it might not turn out right. I've always believed if you miss a step whatever comes from what you have done might turn out even more amazing than what you envisioned. Let it grow and breath in the direction it wants to...
Yup, I run off creativity. He runs off of plans. I'm good with picking a spot on the map and saying let's go there. This is where I might want to rest my head, and then a few hours from where I might want to land is when I make a hotel reservation. He wants it all scheduled hour by hour; nope, doesn't always work for me. He's had to learn to stop and smell the roses on the way, because I won't let him just move from spot A to B without a few sniffs of those gorgeous roses. I mean, how can you learn to appreciate nature, if you are moving from A to B, without using your senses and stopping to enjoy those senses?
He's taught me how to develop a work ethic. I had never in my life met someone who cleaned, as if they were spring cleaning, every single day. This was a 2 times a year ritual for our family, in his it was a way of life. He taught me how to clean, not the other way around. I am thankful for that. Like I said, he fills my gaps.
As I mentioned above- my friend and the other two people (one of them was my dentist; we also had a discussion on raising kids in-between him cleaning my teeth, that's another post...) who asked me what the magic of our longevity is. That caught me off guard. I really had no clue how to answer. I had to think about it for a minute.
Here is the answer I gave my dentist: There is no secret formula. I figured it all comes down to choosing. I chose Matt each and every day and he chooses me. We just push along from that choice. My choice comes mostly with a smile, some fun and starring at him, realizing how lucky I am to have met this gorgeous man in the first place.
Ultimately, the answer is that I choose to fall in love with him, as if it is the first time I saw him working at the electronics counter in Fred Meyer. I will continue to choose him every single day for the rest of my life, because I want to grow old with him. Him sitting next to me on the back deck porch swing looking out over our favorite view, where ever that might be, and me holding a book on my lap and one hand in his...
Q: If someone doesn't fill your gaps, how can you continue a relationship with them? I am honestly curious about this, anyone have an answer? Let me know in the comments below.