Monday, September 17, 2007

Opposites Attract

I’ve always said that Mr. Right and I were opposites. Last weekend I had my opinion validated scientifically. In other words, written proof – which really makes me happy down to my core.

We attended a Marriage Retreat this weekend, a very informative, very worthwhile time with about 20 other couples from church. There was deep fellowship, great fun and time spent on understanding each other, not only our relationships as a couple, but also the relationships that we have with each other as a spiritual family. After the retreat, we were blessed to be able to stay an extra night with a few couples for dinner and bowling. It was a perfect getaway in all.

However, Friday night was pretty hard on me. Although I was really excited and willing to participate last weekend, I was at the end of my rope with being able to function. I don’t know if it’s the change of season, the change of schedules or me just being me, but for the last week, I’ve had a very hard time sleeping. Little sleep = tiredness = emotional. So when we were instructed to take a timed test at 10:20 PM, my cranky side kicked in.

Did it matter that the “test” was just a personality test that had no right or wrong answers? Did it matter that I wasn’t penalized in any way for not wanting to take the test at that moment? Did it matter that no one was going to think less of me if I was having a hard time? Yes, but only to me. As the words were literally jumping around on the page, I put my glasses on, read the first box of words to select my answer and thought, I don’t know if I’m more or less for each of the words. I looked at Mr. Right and said, “I think I’m going to cry.” The stress/work was just too much for me.

He did what he always does. He took my hand in his and gently reminded that everything was going to be okay, that I should just take one box at a time and that he loves me no matter what my answers will be.

Needless to say, I finished the test in the proper time. He gave me the reassurance I needed to hear.

We stayed up for a very little bit to talk with the other couples and then hit the hay because we were the cranky, old couple at this Young Marrieds retreat. (Young Marrieds is really a misnomer… The group has couple ranging from newlyweds to 15-years married. Some really don’t want to move up into the Young Families Group until everyone decides to promote.)

The next morning’s sessions began at 9:30 AM with another devotional and then we hit the ground running on the results of the tests. Everyone had agreed that we would share our results as a group, so it was interesting to see the difference in couples and individuals.

The names discussed were as follows:
  • D for Dominance (Lions) are daring, adventuresome, direct, demanding, decisive, results-oriented, inquisitive, forceful, self-assured and competitive. 
  • I for Influence (Otters) are enthusiastic, influential, impulsive, emotional, gregarious, trusting, persuasive, self-promoting, pleasant, social and generous. 
  • S for Steadiness (Golden Retrievers) are patient, loyal, deliberate, team-oriented, serene, undemonstrative, protective, relaxed, passive and possessive
  • C for Conscientiousness (Beaver) are accurate, fact-finding, diplomatic, systematic, conventional, cautious, careful, restrained, analytical, sensitive to criticism and detail oriented.
What a great goldmine of knowledge was found in these sessions! We discussed not only how we think our mate wants us to be, but also how each of us react under pressure or stress, which are not necessarily the same. Then it gave a chart about how we really are. The extra bonus of information included was now that we know how we are, how do we work as a couple to emphasize strengths and how to deal with each other well when we have stress and disagreement. (What can I do to help Mr. Right understand where I want to go and why? What can Mr. Right do to help me understand where he wants to go and why? Good stuff! I only wish we had it 10 years ago… Oh the misconceptions and arguments that could have been avoided had I known all this back then…)

When the leader pulled out our charts to compare Mr. Right and myself, he asked what we thought we were. I said I know I’m a D/I. Mr. Right replied that he was a C/S. We were dead on.

When the leader showed our charts under pressure/stress, we were as opposite as opposite can me. The group gave a quiet groan when they saw our chart. It was perfect X, which really means that we need exactly the opposite things from each other when confronted with difficulties. Where I need to DO something ASAP, Mr. Right needs as much DATA and TIME to make a decision. Me? Data and time are the last things on my list to need. Mr. Right? Making a quick decision sets him on edge and gives him absolutely no sense of security. He likes to analyze and reanalyze and then, just for good measure, go over all the options one more time until he makes a decision. You can see how we aren’t the best when it comes to arguing or making decisions and how we have been unintentionally frustrating and compounding the problems by not understanding each other’s needs in order to feel safe and secure.

When the leader showed our chart of how we really are, again it was opposite from each other. Where Mr. Right is quiet, reserved and slow to change, I’m outgoing, outspoken and quick to jump into an activity and participate. Crowds are intimidating to Mr. Right; I love being in the center of things. I’m quick to make a decision or just to jump into a situation without reviewing everything; he’s slow to accumulate all the details, facts and sees each process in his head before he makes a move. I dive right in wanting a solution when we argue (and I want to be right!); Mr. Right shuts down, needing time to process every bit of info that I’m throwing at him, feeling more and more freaked and clammed up when I push him for agreement. In other words, I leap before I look, thinking that everything will work itself out, and Mr. Right looks 29 times before he leaps, thinking of all the outcomes in detail before he moves a foot. Exact opposites.

Yet, with all these polar differences, I still know that God put us together with forethought and goodness in mind. He might have chuckled a few times when he thought about the fireworks that would ensure from our union, but he still blessed it by allowing us to love each others’ hearts. And I can’t tell you how many times I have thanked God for his divine wisdom, for putting me together with a man who makes me slow down, forces me to think things through before making big decisions and encourages me to think about others as I make decisions. In return for all these wonderful things (and more!), all I have to do is to help Mr. Right to make decisions at a quicker speed, loyally love him with all my heart and encourage him to have more fun. I so got the better end of the deal.

So don’t tell me that God doesn’t perform miracles. I’m living one every day.  And I love it.

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