I quickly backtracked. Not because I felt I was wrong but because I didn’t want to offend my friend. He had married well. So had I. I guess it was just my semantics that had thrown him off and raised his defenses.
To clear the air with him, I tried to clarify what I meant to say. I thought there was a balance between my wife and me but it certainly wasn’t equal…in every way. It was a balance between two strong personalities but not a case of plain vanilla symmetry.
For example, I told him, I’m inherently cheap. My wife isn’t afraid to spend money. She likes to meet new people and try new things. I don’t but I don’t mind going along with her wishes. She likes to be in charge (alpha female personality.) I usually don’t care about most sundry everyday decisions of our day-to-day living. My focus is elsewhere. I’m not afraid of strong women. She is a very strong woman.
Fortunately when it comes to both of our core values, we’re in total sync. Whether it is the value of education, personal development, financial goals and objectives or the vapid nature of material goods, we speak the same language.
The internet is replete with articles about how to marry the right person. There are guidelines, benchmarks, tests and self-evaluations to see if marrying someone older than yourself will work out, if mixed religions can flourish together, if cultural and ethnic backgrounds make a difference.
Some guidelines make a lot of sense: Don’t marry potential. Choose character over chemistry. Don’t neglect the emotional needs of your potential partner. Avoid opposing life plans. Avoid a lack of emotional connection. Pay attention to your own emotional anxiety. Beware of avoiding personal responsibility. Finally, watch out for a lack of emotional health and availability in your potential partner.
And yet once you’re done with all the graphs and charts and guidelines and rules, there can still be this inexplicable, unmistakable, hard-to-define connection. And even after many years and countless miles traveled together, the connection can still be there.
How many people marry up and don’t even realize it. It certainly wasn’t intentional on my part. It just so happened that Sharon had many of the qualities that I was lacking… who knew? An ISTJ marries an exact opposite. Talk about disparate ends of the personality spectrum. Yet after many years of marriage we still find similarities as well as differences that define our relationship. Besides, I’m not sure I’d want to be married to someone like me…nay, probably not.
Both my son and daughter found spouses who share their interest in the important things in life but also balanced them out. Their spouses compliment my kid’s their idiosyncrasies and shortcomings. Yes, I can say that, I’m their father.
Finding the right spouse can sometimes be a crap shoot or just the right combination of luck and timing. My high school girlfriend married a doctor right out of college. That seemed to fit her personality.
My college girlfriend married a fellow who became a professor at one of the service academies. That also seemed like a good match for her personality and needs.
Then through a curious combination of timing, placement and karma, I began dating my future wife. Our backgrounds were, in fact, quite different. I was a city boy dating a farm girl. I like Bob Dylan and the Beatles. She didn’t know that friend of mine and wasn’t crazy about bugs. I liked smart sophisticated women. But this was a woman whose level of sophistication was far superior to my own. In fact, an alpha female who was as comfortable in the classroom as she was in the boardroom. On the surface, someone totally out of my league. Beneath the surface; just the same.
So why has it worked out so well for so long?
|My amazing wife and I|
Fortunately I’ve never let my ego get in the way of a strong female companion. It must be tough being married to men with large egos. Who would want to be known as the ‘little woman back home’? Even Don Draper’s wife Betty grew tired of that moniker and threw him away.
So marrying up, although unplanned, has worked out pretty well for me. Although a curious mixture, it’s a chemistry that works for us even if it still requires patience, tolerance and understanding.
I’m working on those attributes too.