Tuesday, July 7, 2009

On Compatibility

When I asked my wife if she thought we were compatible, she said simply, “We are. We shouldn’t be, but we are.”

WonderWife™ and I are two vastly different people. She’s a self-proclaimed country girl, who grew up riding horses and would love nothing better than to settle into a nice cottage in the middle of nowhere. I am a city boy, who is afraid of riding horses and would go crazy if I didn’t at least have a multiplex theater and a bar within a 5 mile radius. She is messy. I am neat. She doesn’t like dishes left in the sink. I often leave my dishes in the sink.

A few years ago, I went through a period where I was upset at the differences between my wife and myself. I questioned how such a disjointed union could truly work. I wondered why my heart would let me pick a mate who has little to no interest in most of the things that I love the most. How could we be compatible if we’re so different?

It took some time but I came to realize that compatibility isn’t about liking the same things. It’s about the ease of co-existence and co-habitation. It’s about being able to make the important decisions together, like what color to paint the walls of the living room or how to raise your kids so that they don’t become assholes.

For all of our differences, WonderWife™ and I are extremely compatible. We make excellent decisions together. We remodeled an entire house together without a single fight. And she was pregnant! We work so well together because we agree on a few fundamental things: how to raise our kids, how to spend our money, what to feed ourselves, and that most anything on the Food Network is worth watching (except for that cocky bastard Emeril).

I knew that WonderWife™ and I were compatible because we lived together before we got married. Believe it or not, I used to be an old fashioned guy and bought into the romantic notion that at the very least, you live together after you get engaged. My opinion changed quickly after I lived with and was engaged to a woman with whom I was absolutely not compatible. It only took nine months before the fissures in that relationship broke through to the surface and it became apparent that she was my polar opposite in every way.

You want to know if you're truly compatible with somebody? Live with them for a year. When you live with somebody, you can't hide yourself. When you come home from vacation, you're still with each other. If you have a fight, you have no choice but to work it out. There are no neutral corners, no separate bedrooms. Live together. Love together. Talk about everything.

Sure there are times when WonderWife™ wishes I would stop making cheesy jokes. And there are times when I wish she would just sit down to watch Dark Knight with me on Blu-Ray (or even cared that we own a Blu-Ray player). But that doesn’t mean we view the whole wide world differently. We know where each other’s boundaries are, when to push buttons and when to compromise. This isn’t something we've had to work on. It's who we are as a couple.

Daddy Geek Boy

Here's the question for today: If you outlive your partner, how will you handle his/her death? Will you look for a new partner, a companion to live with, or new friends to fill your time?


IWA (e - va) said...

DGB... I loved reading about your point of view of compatibility! I compromise on some things, but Im not going to lie, we're both very stubborn (probably me more than him) and I need to work on that a lot more!

If I outlive my spouse, I would be a total mess! I dont think I would know how to exist anymore...... does that sound super pathetic?

I think writing that just gave me the light bulb moment that i have been needing...

I've actually told the hubs to NOT get married again, if i die first... am i just sounding like a jerk or what? because when i think about what I would do, Im pretty sure i would get remarried or find a new partner!

binks said...

DGB - what a great point of view. I love the fact that my husband and I have some different interests, ideas and tastes. It makes for interesting conversations and debates. Some of his ideas have changed my point of view and vice-versa.

I am not sure what I'd do if I were to outlive my husband. I was single for a long time (I got married at 42) and can absolutely live alone and be happy.
I CAN say, it is so much better with a companion, husband & friend.
Besides, I married younger so I wouldn't have to deal with that.

Danielle said...

Really, really great post. A very realistic view of how your relationship works for you. If everyone would take a step back and look at things as you just posted, there would be a lot less divorce or for that matter, less marriages that shouldn't have ever been.
Thanks for this one.

Denise said...

Great post! Sometimes the differences bring you closer together.

Wow... I'll try to not sound morbid here. My guy has health issues and a plethora of bad genes inherited from his family. I'm pretty sure I'm going to outlast him, unless I get hit by a bus or something. I'm clumsy. It might happen.

It would definitely be hard to fill his shoes and I doubt I'd try. As long as our kids are grown and out of the house, I'll probably turn into a dart throwin', whorin around widow who couldn't give a rats arse about "feelings" and "marriage". Horrible I know. But honest. If the kids are still under my wings I'd probably cherish their father's memory while counting down the days until I can be naked on an island beach somewhere with a cabana boy named Pedro bringing me fancy umbrella drinks.

Shirley said...

I agree that compatibility isn't about always liking the same things. I have no interest in golf or motor cycles. My husband does, and I cheerfully send him off to do his thing. He has no interest in amusement parks so I ride roller coasters with my best friend. We have different tastes in TV shows. But we agree on the important things in life, and we love,trust and respect each other completely.

I doubt that I would remarry if my husband dies first. It wouldn't be fair to another man to be constantly compared to my husband. But I'm pretty sure I would do a lot more dancing and travelling than I do now.

Daddy Geek Boy said...

Thanks for the compliments, guys.

Shirley...I would totally go ride roller coasters with your husband. My wife does the same thing for me too.

If WonderWife™ died, I would probably curl up in a ball and spend a month or so there. After my kids pulled me out, I would reluctantly join the world again.

We've talked about this and my wife and I both agree that life will need to go on. Happiness will need to be found again. We know that it wouldn't be the same, nor should it. But why spend a life alone with only the haunted memories of the love of your life if you don't need to.

Christy said...

DGB - love it. I have found that the differences make us as a couple...complete. Compatibility is the glue, being able to work together, love and laugh together, truly LIVE together is an amazing journey.

I'm not married again - yet - but when we get to that point and if I lost him first, I would rejoice that I was able to have time with him in the first place. But probably fill my life with friends and purpose before another man. Let God lead the way on that.

H.K. said...

I loved reading your post, brought back a lot of memories during the earlier years of our marriage. Though we were brought up completely different, a lot of our core values were the same which was enough to overcome all the "outside" differences.

To answer your question for the day: If I outlived my partner, there is no way I would want to get involved again, too much work! Besides, I think I would always compare my dates to my husband. I would fill up my time with traveling, going back to school, and being there for my son.

Didn't have a great experience being a step child and the friends I have had who remarried with kids, the marriage didn't work out. Why? Because the men didn't like having to compete with their wives children or they couldn't accept their wives kids as their own.

I know that there are many second marriages with kids that work out, but the experience of being a step child left a sour taste in my mouth and I wouldn't want my son to go thru that.

ZenMom said...

Great post, DGB. I love your insight on this subject. And I think you've got it just right.

I like to say that my husband and I are "complementary" - we fit together just right. Not because we are the same, but because we are different. I zig where he zags and together, we make a whole.

We don't enjoy all the same things and we each have interests the other does not share. But we are in sync on the important things. The things that really matter. Everything else is chocolate sauce. :)

Anonymous said...

If I outlive my bride it would depend on what age and life stage I was in to be able to say what I'd do. I doubt I'd ever marry again but I would need some help raising the kids properly since that isn't really my forte.

If there was a real rich chick tho that would be on the table.

wendy said...

That is excellent and soooo true. Compatability goes WAY deeper then just being interested in the same things. My 2nd husband and I have TOTAL different interests ---( an p.s. we are actually getting a divorce....another story for another day that has nothing to do with compatability) I am getting off track, 2nd and I always agreed witht the "important" issues of life, like how to raise the kids (his step kids) and basic values. We just didn't like to DO the same things. He is the GREATEST guy in the world ---weird that we are divorcing?? Maybe I have relationship issues. Hmmmm.
who is asking the question at the end of your article.
If your spouse died how would you handle it----------I'd probably just focus on alot of sugar daddys.
(back to those relationship issues)

Anjeny said...

DGB..yet another wonderful post. I enjoyed reading and I think your wife and I could be the best of friends. Your marriage is so much like mine...my hubby and I are different in so many ways(and of course we are similar in some ways)..believe it or not, I actually like the differences. It keeps our marriage interesting.

I like Danielle's comment...if people really take the time to look at the things you posted, we wouldn't be having so many divorces or marriages in the first place. I think a lot of the times people jumped into marriage thinking it's a happily ever after deal and not really think it through that marriage is work, in order for it to last, both partners have to be putting their whole energy into it to make it work. Not just enjoy the good times and when a little toughness comes up, it's time to scram.

As for the question at the end of your post...right now if my hubby passed away, it would be tough for me. I'd grieve for him for a while and then I'd have to get up and take over since we still have kids at home who will need me more than ever. I don't think I'd want to look for another companion...too much work. Don't think I want to go through all that dating and getting to know another person again..besides there are things I would want to do on my own.

Thank you DGB for sharing this little window into the man's mind.

James (SeattleDad) said...

Great post DGB. You absolutely nailed it here. You can't hide anywhere from someone you live with, so you learn soon enough about real compatibility. Our advice to our kids should really be live with each other before getting married, it is what my dad said to me.

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

You know my thoughts on your post and HOW much I loved it before I even posted it!

You are right.

Although...I don't think it is necessary to live with someone. that is my point of view.

I do however believe that opposite sometimes attract... and that it okay that we don't both like the same things...but that we find the compatibility beyond that. :)

My guy and I have discussed that what if you died thing.

I told him I would move to Australia and find me a man with a sexy accent!!! :)

He of course would pine for me until the ends of his days... sad sad sad!


Missty said...

Great post! If I outlived Matt I would be incredibly sad.. for a very long time. He truly is my soulmate.

I am not sure I would marry - maybe if the right person came along. I know I would probably compare, and tht wouldn't be fair.

But, I am not like many here - I don't think marriage is hard work. I just don't. So that wouldn't even be a reason not to marry. Marriage has been wonderful, but then I have a wonderful guy who is compatable with me, so life is good!

I always say we will live till we are both 112! And I won't have to worry about this type of question.

Daddy Geek Boy said...

Shelle...I understand your point of view about living together. It was my experience that if I had not been living with my ex-fiance, we would have gotten married and divorced in a year's time. So in my case, it was a crucial decision.

SciFi Dad said...

Actually, my wife and I sound a lot like you and WW... she loves the cottage whereas I can't help but stare at the "no signal" message on my cell phone as the banjo part from Deliverance plays in my head.

That aside, we fit. I can't really explain it any other way. We just mesh well.

Anonymous said...

Alright, not married but very much in love reader here, and I totally agree. The Boyfriend and I are almost complete opposites in personality, likes and dislikes, etc however, that's exactly the reason why we get along so well. When I'm bouncing off the walls in excitement or anger he's passive enjoying the show or there to cool me down with his natural ease. Because we love totally different things (and care enough for each other to take part in the other's likes) we are constantly exposing each other to different types of fun and new experiences.

We never fight (even when I try to pick a fight). The worse we get to is me getting loud and eventually both of us rolling on the floor laughing at how stupid our "arguments" are. When it does come down to something serious we have only one rule: to think about what's bothering us before talking about it so as to make sure we don't hurt each other's feelings and can clearly explain what's wrong to give the other a good chance a fixing it.

I've never been so happy with anyone before and I know it's because we're opposite that complement each other so well.

I'll keep you posted on the living together deal when we get there!

The Crash Test Dummy said...

I love this post! It's so true! Good job, DGB.

My hub and I have so much in common. We have the same attitudes about raising the kids, finances, sex, religion, etc. He is a bit more of a country boy then me, but we would fight like cats and dogs if we were remodeling a house together.

Whenever I watch Amazing Race I think "We would NOT do well together at that game, and we would embarrass ourselves in front of the entire country."


It's like the opposite of you.

We can sound like we're disagreeing when we talk, when actually we're totally agreeing.

My favorite line was "how to raise your kids so they don't become assholes."

ha ha ha ha ha

If my hub died, I wouldn't seek out a new hub. I think I would be fine alone. I'm with Denise. I think it was Denise.

But I would be open to finding companionship again.