I thought I was marrying someone a lot like me. But we think a lot of crazy things when we’re dating and in love. My husband was the person who introduced me to Nutella on our second date, so my judgment may have been clouded by chocolate hazelnut goodness.
We’ve been married almost 15 years now, and every year that passes, I’m amazed at how completely opposite we are. I’ve asked him on more than one occasion, “Why did you marry me?” because I truly am baffled at how two polar opposites like us came together.
But what baffles me even more is how it seems to be working. Working really well, actually.
We are the textbook example of opposites attract. He grew up in the North skiing and playing in the snow, and I’m a Southern girl through and through, complete with a sassy attitude and a knack for fishing.
He is calm, laid-back, and easygoing, and I’m none of those things.
He went into the medical field, and I can barely handle my own kid’s throw-up.
He does not need to be the center of attention, and while I don’t either, I’m often the loudest person in the room because I just can’t help it.
He likes spending his birthdays with the kids, and I like to spend mine locked in my own room in bed watching Netflix — alone.
He’s a night owl, and I’m an early bird.
His ideas of fun include mountain biking, hiking, snow-shoeing, skiing, or anything that will keep him physically active, and my idea of fun involves frozen yogurt with a friend and my bra off by 8:30. Better yet, let me stay home in my pajamas all day, and I’ll be happy.
I should have realized we came from different worlds that first time I ate dinner at his parents’ house. It was calm, quiet, and everyone took their turn talking. There were lots of manners, and pleasantries, and I flashed back to My Big Fat Greek Wedding and thought I had entered the freaking twilight zone.
But the truth is, I wanted some of that peace and calmness that didn’t come naturally to my family. In fact, I think I craved it and fell more in love with him when I saw those qualities.
My family was, of course, more like the Greek family in the movie — loud, obnoxious, everyone talking over each other, sarcasm, and yelling. Poking fun at each other is just what we do. Yet he didn’t run away because maybe he fell a little more in love too.
Maybe we were both craving a little bit of the opposite of what we had because that’s exactly what we needed to balance us out. And 15 years later, we’re still here, still happy.
Since we’ve become parents, I’ve realized that marrying your opposite is pretty awesome in more ways than one.
His father told me when we were dating that he had never heard my husband raise his voice. I was blown away and ready to get married right that second. That’s what I want for my kids, I thought.
But the reality is, we both learn from each other. I’ve learned to yell less, and he’s learned that a little bit of sternness is sometimes the only way to get a kid to listen up.
He is a math and science guy, and I can’t even with anything involving numbers. The best part? Once my daughter hit fourth grade, I turned over her annoying Common Core math homework to him, and I haven’t looked back.
I parent with my gut, and he parents with logic and reason. We work through it together, and I think we’re doing a pretty damn good job. After all, we both bring our very dissimilar ideas together and meet somewhere in the middle.
He uses very few words to make a point, and I could give a discourse on why you shouldn’t leave the toilet seat up.
But marrying your opposite is also handy because no two kids are alike either. And sometimes, you just need the other parent to deal with the kid who is acting the most like you in a moment of frustration.
He connects with them in ways that I can’t. And I connect with our kids in ways that he can’t. I marvel when he sits down with my daughter and she chats away about her day, because when she is near me, I have to beg her to open up.
And my son needs lots of physical affection and empathy, and I seem to be the parent who can give that to him the easiest.
When my husband is at his wit’s end, I am usually on top of my parenting game, and when he needs to recharge by climbing a mountain, I’m the first one to push him out the door.
He has a way of pulling our kids into whatever he is doing and teaching them in the process. He has talents I couldn’t dream of having, and I know he’d say the same about me.
If I’m being totally honest, sometimes I hate that we’re opposites because communication is beyond ridiculous as we go round and round for an hour trying to understand each other. But we get there eventually, and usually grow better and stronger because of it.
Marrying your opposite looks like lots of compromise and a lot of work. It looks like letting him sleep in and letting me go to bed early. It looks like losing your patience and having someone there to always balance it out and pick up the slack. But it also looks like a lot of growth.
It’s not easy, and it’s not without struggles and misunderstandings, but my match made in heaven is my total opposite, and I’m happy to be married to someone who helps me see the world in stark contrast to how I would view it without him.
And frankly, when I think about it, I’d rather die than be married to someone just like me anyway. Because being married to a man who actually enjoys science fair projects is pretty freaking fantastic.
This post first appeared on Scary Mommy