Can this relationship be saved? YES.
You're a morning person; he's an evening person. You love to read books; he's into gaming. You even bought one of those horribly expensive mattresses with sleep numbers, because you're a twenty-one and he's a sixty-eight.
The two of you are polar opposites in almost everything, including some pretty major lifestyle preferences, like fitness. So to coin a variation of an old magazine monthly feature, "Can this relationship be saved?"
There have been lots of studies of couples in relationships and the importance of similar versus opposite personality traits. While we might think these studies would confirm that better relationships exist when couples share the same likes and dislikes, the truth is that compatibility of couples is more complex than that.
Personally, our home is really like two cities. Here's how that works:
- Our family room is divided: One-half has my Nordic Trainer and weights; the other half is his "man cave." He doesn't understand my "obsession" with fitness, which he thinks is nothing more than people compensating for other insecurities. While I try to explain that it's a matter of long-term health, he explains that gaming and football are, too; they're stress-relievers after long days and weeks of demanding work.
- Our refrigerator looks like it has bipolar disorder: My contributions are chicken breasts, broccoli, fresh spinach, tofu, Greek yogurt, and kale. His are T-bone steaks, frozen French fries and pizzas, and a host of "convenience" boxes of breakfast sandwiches, frozen potato skins, and hot chicken wings. Our meal times, when we do eat at home, are a matter of taking turns in the kitchen. Do we share any food together? Yes, actually. We both like baked potatoes, although with far different toppings. Needless to say, we do our own grocery shopping. And I never want to see any kind of a scan of his arteries.
- We have lots of "separateness" of outside activities: I go to the gym a lot. I also run. He meets friends after work for a beer and may get together with buddies on the weekend for a short flag football session. I meet friends for lunch at a new, "cheeky" sushi bar.
So what keeps us together? Here's the thing: Our lives are very separate in many ways. He pokes fun at my commitment to fitness and healthy eating; I poke fun at his frozen food and his "couch potato" existence.
You'd think that there's no way this relationship could ever last since we have absolutely nothing in common. But we're lasting, and we do have things in common. And those things that we do have in common are the things that will matter five years, ten years, and twenty years from now.
1. We're passionate about animal cruelty.
We volunteer together at animal shelters; we support and donate to animal rescue organizations. What we both know is this: our treatment of the creatures on this planet speaks volumes about who we are as humans. I should mention that the steaks he eats are from free-range grazing cattle that are humanely killed.
2. We're passionate about our environment.
We want a clean, healthy planet for the next generations. Our home is essentially "off the grid," with solar panels for our energy, a water reclamation system, recycling everything possible, and fuel efficient cars.
3. We believe in education.
Both of us have college degrees, and we understand the importance of education as the ultimate equalizer in society. We have a standing Sunday afternoon activity: tutoring at a community center in the poorest neighborhood in our community. He records his sports events for later viewing.
4. We share a faith.
We believe in a higher power, although we don't name it. It's that "presence" that makes us love and care and do the right thing.
5. We agree on what it means to be successful.
6. We have real chemistry.
Despite our totally opposite priorities on health and fitness, on diet, on leisure activities, we have that magical attraction that's hard to describe. Sometimes, just one look and the numbers on our mattress sides just don't matter.
7. Our opposite traits are good things for our relationship.
For one thing, we "complete" each other; for another, we keep each other from being rigid and inflexible, and flexibility is an important quality in all aspects of lie.
Personalities are such complex things. Within each of us are strengths and flaws and, of course, priorities. As we consider mates, we evaluate the potential of relationships based upon those priorities.
If you've identified your priorities, then those are what matter as you move into a relationship. The smaller things, like having to divide a family room to accommodate each of your interests or differences in eating habits, shouldn't be "deal-breakers." If the important compatibility factors are present, you may have found your "Mr. Perfect."