At the end of a day, I make a mental (sometimes audible) note of my accomplishments for the day: I did the laundry, cleaned the bathrooms, cleaned the refrigerator and the stove, graded two stacks of papers and checked my email.
If I ask my retired husband, “What did you do today?” his answer usually is, “Whatever I wanted to.”
Therein lies our first basic difference: I love being busy (which is why I’m “retired,” but not retired); he can sit and “watch grass grow.”
But that is only one of the differences that confirm the true statement: opposites attract.
One difference is defined by our favorite TV shows: mine – “The Office,” “Monk,” “The Closer,” and old shows such as “Home Improvement” and “MASH”; his: the History Channel and FOX. He doesn’t mind hearing me laugh out loud while watching “Monk” or “The Office,” and he will listen while I explain what is so funny (my favorite: when Michael in “The Office” walked into the outer office and declared bankruptcy by loudly yelling, “I declare bankruptcy!”); and he has watched a few “Monk” shows that I had on DVD when I insisted, “You will like this one,” but, sadly, he didn’t.
Talent-wise, he beats me by a mile.
He has done oil painting and stained glass; he loves history and geography (when my mother was alive, if he and my mom worked together, they became an unbeatable Trivial Pursuit team); he has studied Judaism and its connection to Christianity, strives to share that with other through various Bible studies, and spends innumerable hours on the laptop listening to music and messages from messianic (Jewish believers in Jesus as Messiah) sites – his favorite is Zola Leavitt, a messianic teacher who passed away some years ago, but his message and his work live on.
My “talents”: I do needlepoint and knitting, I play the piano (poorly, but for my own enjoyment), I occasionally write a variety of things, and I do all the bill paying for the two of us. Other things I am good at include punctuation, spelling and grammar. Sadly, being knowledgeable in those three areas doesn’t lend itself to winning friends and sharing talents.
Our spare time activities are also different: my favorite evening – after all the chores are done – activity is doing jigsaw puzzles. I am addicted. I have a table set up in the guest room, where I work on puzzles and watch TV – unless we have company. He takes naps and checks out what’s going on across and down our cul de sac, as he watches from his chair in the living room.
Temperament-wise we are direct opposities: (if you are familiar with the four temperaments, you will understand this) he is primarily phlegmatic – he’s easy-going, gentle, good natured, quiet and an introvert, with a small amount of sanguine; I am primarily sanguine: loud, love being part of a group, don’t mind being the “life of the party” and am an extrovert, with a small amount of phlegmatic.
(The interesting thing about “opposites attracting” is that we see in the other person the strong qualities we don’t have and vice versa; the problems come, often after marriage, when the weaknesses become evident and tend to overshadow the strengths.)
He is up early – by 5 or 6 every morning; I could easily sleep until 9. He has his quiet time in the morning, devotedly reading his Bible daily; I have my quiet time just before I go to bed – not a time that allows for much deep thinking and meditating – but when I get up, I’m up and running.
So…how could a couple, each one of whom is so different, have managed to be happily married for 50+ years? Therein lies the miracle, and we can credit the one thing we definitely have in common: our faith.
He grew up in a Christian home, became a Christian at 10, strayed while in the Navy, but had his faith renewed when his long-praying mother “nagged” him to go to church with her and the pastor’s message hit him “between the eyes,” concluding with his realizing God wanted him to be a pastor.
I became a Christian at 15, married at 18, became a mother a week short of 20 and a pastor’s wife shortly thereafter.
Our advice to prospective “opposites” who seem to be “attracting”: 1) be sure the Lord and His work are at the center of what you do; 2) dwell on the positives; 3) give more than you get; 4) frequently do for your spouse something unexpected, unnecessary or thoughtful; and 5) realize that your differences are okay –they are what make life interesting, challenging and exciting.