NPR Vs. NASCAR: How We Make It Work


NPR Vs. NASCAR: How We Make It Work
Relationship compatibility is often less about shared interest than we think.

I recently listened sympathetically to a girlfriend whose marriage was unraveling. She and her soon-to-be-ex liked the same music and movies, books, sports, and hobbies. Hell, they even sounded alike, had shared a college major and were working in the same field.

"You seemed so in sync," I said.


She nodded. "It's ironic. I mean, how on earth do you and Frank stay married? You have nothing in common."

My husband and I walk to the beat of two different drummers. would never link us up. We're not, most of the time, on the same wavelength; in fact the static is sometimes deafening. You know those Jack Sprat-and-wife couples:  two people with such disparate proclivities you wonder how they even met, much less manage to cohabit. That's us. 

I'm the worrier; he's relaxed. I'm working at 1:30 a.m., he's been snoring for hours. I make long range plans; he suggests swimming at midnight. He likes Nascar, I'm into Nova. His food comes bland, mine spicy. He's a beach person, I hate sand in my suit. He watches CSI, I'm liking Medium. Frank skied, I was a competitive equestrian. I listen to NPR, his tastes run to (do I have to say it?) a.m. talk.

Then there's the biggie. Frank never went to college. Not a semester, not a day. Me? I just completed a master's degree. In literary nonfiction. Which my husband never reads. 

Am I sometimes frustrated? You bet.

And yet, everywhere couples are coming unhitched over much less. That's not us.

At the lowest times of my life, Frank always makes me laugh, and as for the sex part, yeah, we've got that. Then there's money. You'd think we'd fight over it more, but we don't. Discuss it, yes. In loud, frustrated (him) and weepy (me) voices? Yes.

Frank was the anti-striver. When we first started dating, I was tired of men who detailed how they'd earn their first million, become partner or make their fellow MBA buddies jealous. Frank was my rebellion, the stake I planted to showcase my expansive egalitarianism; after all, I had dated a black man, a much older man, and (oh yes, oops), a married one. The expectations of my white, upward-striving, narrow-minded suburban upbringing were not for me. Take that, I seemed to be saying (to whom I don't know), I'll date and marry whom I please.

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