Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Five Years Younger and Twice as Old

Have you ever been to a dinner party or some similar event and met a couple and your first reaction is ‘How the hell did those two ever end up together?’ Yeah, me too.

Then there are other couples who seem, at least on the surface, to complement each other to a T; a perfect match made in heaven or on the Hallmark Channel. Yet both couples have found a commonality or connection that has withstood the test of time. Go figure?

On the surface, there are the visible correlations of compatibility, similar interests, like-minded pursuit of goals and the list goes on and on. It’s sometimes easy to see why two individuals were attracted to one another and have stayed together. But what about the phenomena of opposites attracting?  How is it that two individuals with different, diverse, divergent, divided interests can be not only attracted to one another but can make it work for nearly a half century? It gets even more interesting when one of the partners is an alpha female.

Sharon is five years younger than I am and twice as old in terms of maturity, social skills, and leadership abilities. She’s also an alpha female and Type A personality. Talk about opposites attracting!

Being married to an alpha female might seem a bit incongruous considering my upbringing. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. Upon reflection, I realize, down through the decades, I‘ve always been attracted to strong women with brains, beauty and brawn. In this case, I would define brawn as a personality that is focused, determined and in-charge.

The misconception of a type A personality or an alpha female is ripe with conjecture, misconception, and misunderstanding. Not surprisingly, a lot of folks think that partnering up to an alpha type personality reduces one’s own status to that of a eunuch. Nothing could be further from the truth. From that fa├žade of contradictions come cohesiveness and compatibility. Sometimes, it’s just hard to see that at first glance.

Alpha females aren’t new, but they were rarer back in the day. Back then, they were typically women who didn’t follow conventional paths. They became writers, politicians, scientists or doctors. In my wife’s case, Sharon started out as a teacher and pretty quickly morphed into an administrator and then Vice President of a college.

A lot of psychologists believe that every relationship needs balance for it to survive. In the case of the happily married alpha female, it is a balance between masculine and feminine energy. While seemingly miscued in favor of the alpha side, closer observation would reveal that while the alpha side is predominant that dominance is totally dependent on the willful acceptance of the beta side. One doesn’t function without the other.

That balance between our two personalities, while often invisible to most outside eyes, is the fulcrum upon which our relationship balances and without it, there would be no relationship. It is truly the ying and yang, up and down, right and left and good and bad of any relationship. One side does not, cannot, exist without the complete willing acceptance of the other.

Obvious differences aside, there is more commonality between Sharon and myself than that which lies on the surface. We were both born into lower-middle class families; Sharon from a small farming family and me by a single parent. There was limited interest in education among our parents, relatives and extended family. Advanced educational studies were not seen as playing a prominent role in our respective futures. That changed for both of us in high school.

Fast forward to July of 1971 and the similarities begin to appear and coalesce. Neither Sharon nor I care much for status symbols or flashy objects. The prominent commonalities we both share are a hunger for self-improvement, the importance of education for our families and not being afraid of hard work.

Initially the differences made all the difference. Then the commonalities solidified beneath those rolling waves of personality mix-ups and ultimately formed the bond seen vapid and loose by most. But much like the raindrop that becomes the puddle that becomes the stream that becomes the river that becomes the rapids, our relationship is like a current that can’t be stopped.

Real relationships are funny that way. Whence they came from nobody knows and where they’re going we know even less.

What can I say: it works for us.

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