“Opposites attract,” they say. Whoever “they” are, I’m not sure. But it’s definitely true for my husband, Stuart, and me.
Stuart is task-oriented. I’m people-oriented. Stuart is an internal processor. I’m an external processor. Stuart is reserved and introverted. I’m outgoing and extroverted. Stuart loves to go, go, go until he’s burnt out. I need sporadic breaks and can tend to get easily distracted. Stuart loves to do. I love to be.
You get the idea.
We’re pretty opposite when it comes to our top 5 talents as well. As I shared previously, my top 5 talents are:
If you’re unfamiliar with CoreClarity, the first 4 of my talents are all externally focused. I naturally intuit others’ emotions and enter into their feelings. I love to encourage and celebrate people and their successes. I love to talk, write, text, chat, or any other way of communicating and sharing with others.
Simply put, I prefer to be with people. I recently realized that on the rare occasion I need a break from living, breathing people, I choose activities that engage with characters, such as reading fiction or watching a movie or TV show. Even though I’m technically alone, fiction brings me more life than non-fiction, where I would mainly engage with myself or my thoughts. This was quite the revelation as to why it’s so difficult for me to pick up non-fiction over fiction books. Or even why I’d rather choose a drama or comedy show over a documentary.
Stuart, on the other hand, has primarily internal talents. His top 5 are:
Other than Responsibility, all his talents are internally focused. He thinks, ponders, considers, and weighs the pros and cons before he makes or shares a decision. He’s usually ten steps ahead, thinking of all the potential outcomes of an idea or decision. (Whereas I usually share an idea at its initial conception.)
It’s taken Stuart and me a long time to learn how our differences can truly complement each other, giving our marriage well-rounded completeness. As a Type-A, task-oriented person, Stuart helps me stay on time and on task. He helps me stick to our budget. (Or he tries to at least.) He loves to fix things around our house, where I don’t know how to fix squat.
As a Type-B, people-oriented person, I help Stuart relax, choosing to spend time with our boys over doing the dishes and giving people the benefit of the doubt.
There are still times when we miscommunicate or don’t see eye-to-eye. But we’ve spent time and effort putting tools in our toolbelt to help us in those moments. We’ve been in and out of marriage counseling, and we’ve taken and processed through multiple assessments such as CliftonStrengths/CoreClarity (obviously), and the Enneagram. This helps give us a language we can both understand for the moments we speak different languages.
When I need Stuart to “sit” in an emotion, feeling, or hurt with me, he now knows how to do so. In the past, his immediate response would come from his strength of restoring broken things. He’d want to tell me how to fix whatever it is I’m feeling or experiencing. And while that isn’t a wrong response, it’s not what I need at the moment and leaves me feeling misunderstood and like a problem to be fixed.
Women tend to experience a lot of emotions and feelings, and I’m definitely in that camp. I’m thankful through counseling and processing together, Stuart has learned how to simply sit and listen when I need him to. Then, when I’m ready to hear possible ideas for resolution, he’s ready to share something he’s really good at with me.
Our marriage proves “opposites attract” to be true, but it doesn’t come easy. That saying should actually be: “Opposites attract, and they also butt heads, disagree and cause conflict. But with work, understanding, and humility, opposites can also complement each other well.”
Our journey to understanding, appreciating, and complementing each others differences is far from over. But we’ve gotten to a place of awareness that allows us to see through our conflict to the root of the issue. It doesn’t happen perfectly everytime, but we’re far from where we started!
It seems like our culture, Christian or otherwise, gives up way too easily when life gets tough. Hard work isn’t always fun. But it’s always worth it. And that is especially true in marriage. The time, effort and money it takes to go to marriage counseling or coaching is actually less than all it takes to go through a divorce. So what if instead of throwing the towel in so easily, we all decided to put that money towards helping our marriages?
Can we all be willing to try one more thing before giving up on the one to whom you committed your life?
Part of what I do with Jenn Grand Consulting is relational coaching. Some people aren’t super open to going to counseling. That’s fine, start with marriage coaching! Not only will you better understand, appreciate and communicate with your spouse, you’ll understand and appreciate yourself and what you bring to the table!
I’d love to chat with you about what my marriage coaching is all about, and find out if it’s the right fit for you and your spouse or significant other! Let’s give marriage another chance together. I’m here for you!
Reach out. We’ll chat!