Saturday, November 14, 2009

Do opposites attract or attack?

In Jack & Carole Mayhall's book "Opposites" the authors investigate the differences in the way people think, relate, talk, act and look at life and how couples can turn their differences into opportunities. Although people don't fit into neat and tidy boxes and this book is by no means entirely new information, I think their observations are worth looking at. As a couple browses through the categories I think we are able to quite easily place ourselves.

The Way We Think.

1) Factual (linear learners, may neglect to ask others how they are feeling, need help understanding emotions) vs. Intuitive (feelers, take criticism, teasing harsly, can't say no, may overcommit themselves)
2) Logical vs. Relational
3) Objective (likes a political debate) vs. Subjective (doesn't like personal attack)
4) Conceptual vs. Detailed

The way We Relate

5) Introvert (energized by internal stimuli/reflect then act, wakes up slowly) vs. Extrovert (energized by external stimuli act/reflect, hits the ground running)
6) Organized (you say stop, decisive, closure, plan, structure, control, get decisions out of the way) vs. Free Spirit (go, openness, flexable, wait and see, curious, doesn’t like to commit or be tied down)
7) Affectionate vs. Reserved

The Way We Talk

8) Revealer (asks lots of questions, good listeners) vs. Concealer (too many questions seem like prying, silence precludes arguments )
9) Speaking Facts. vs. Feelings
10) Confronters (how we fight, find out what is wrong right now and here, anytime, anywhere, anyhow--will bring up the past and secondary issues, want to win argument ) vs. Withdrawers (how we fight--walks away, silence at times is golden, crying, surrendering, interrupting, want to win through silence)

The Way We Act

11) Perfectionist (Do it right, correct, precise, orderly, tend to be critical) vs. Non-perfectionist (Right now, never mind, it’s okay, don’t worry)
12) Aggressive (Step forward, take charge, outspoken, control-oriented, may not ask for help) vs. Timid (indecisive, peacemaker, humble, wishywashy, fainthearted, step back)
13) Serious & resolute (thoughtful, sober, solemn, sedate, sincere, resolved, determined, purposeful) vs. Casual & Relaxed (easygoing, spontaneous, informal, relaxed, lackadaisical, haphazard, random)
14) Dependent (influenced, controlled, attached, subordinate) vs. Independent (self reliant, unconstrained, free from control)

The Way We Look At Life

15) pessimistic vs. optimistic

So what can be made of these 15 categorical differences? By my best estimate Sara and I are are on different sides of 13 out of 15 of these catergories (I won't say which categories and to where we belong)! We are very different people. I would be curious to know where other couples stand??

Mayhall makes the argument that incompatibility is grounds for a great and full marriage. He would argue that is a good thing we are not alike.
1) If we are both logical we would be unaware of other's feelings
2) If we are both introverts we may never entertain
3) If we are both independent we may be adamant that we are always right
4) If we are both dependent we fall apart in crisis
5) If we are both pessimists we worry all the time
6) If we are both confronters heads will roll during arguments
7) if we are both withdrawers no intimacy will develop

The trick is learning how to complement each other rather than compete with one another. A biblical marriage is described as two becoming one; a new entity that together is far stronger that either alone. May we all praise God for our differences and for what we are becoming as a couple.

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