Falling in love is a wonderful, magical experience. But all those feel-good hormones flooding your brain can also cloud your judgment. And once the sound of church bells gives way to ringing in your ears from howling children and a hovering husband, you may look back and wonder what warnings you missed in your courtship. How do you know if the differences between you and your hubby are hurdles to overcome or immoveable mountains?
Love is the foundation of any marriage. If you loved each other and enjoyed each other’s company before marriage, you can work toward enjoying the same things, and finding the same things important, now.
With these things in mind, here are some things to consider about your marriage:
A complement is not a clone
You can’t expect you and your spouse to feel exactly the same about everything. Or, to do everything the same way. A complement fits with its proper piece. Two puzzle pieces of the same shape won’t fit together. In a perfect complement, where one lacks, the other excels. Where one succeeds, the other can follow.
Don’t get caught up in the details
If you don’t like the same kinds of films, make movie dates with your friends, then come home and catch up on your favorite TV series together. If he loves camping and you hate bugs, book a 5-star cabin resort on a lakeside mountain. You go to the spa and he can fish in the wilderness.
Smile at the same things
If you both find similar things entertaining or funny, you’re off to a good start. Even if you don’t like the same kinds of entertainment, if you both smile or laugh at the same parts of whatever you’re watching, you are on similar wavelengths. And that goes a long way. Keep that up, and find more ways to laugh together.
Acknowledging the differences
Incompatibility means you have a hard time working together; like trying to run a PC program on a Mac computer. Your spouse’s basic operating system is built in a different way than yours. He or she even speaks a different language. You might be able to invest in an “adapter” or “updated software,” but you have to acknowledge the basic foundational differences to make corrections.
Try to see it your spouse’s way
Once you know you and your spouse operate on different wavelengths, a lot of effort needs to be put into translation. Learn the way he expresses himself, and what that means to you. Also, keep your spouse’s history and culture in mind when he or she makes assumptions about your marriage, family or personal life that seem strange to you. Be conscious of making these same assumptions yourself.
Having shared values can make or break a marriage. It is the lifelines that keep each partner feeling safe, supported and steady when things get rocky. You can still respect each other’s values even if you don’t completely agree on things like: the definition and expectations of marriage, gender roles, spiritual roles, child rearing, career vs. family, charity or similar issues. If you don’t agree but understand and respect each other, there is something worth saving.
Making the best of a mismatched marriage takes a lot of thought and effort. But if you’re willing to put in the work, even the most mismatched spouses can find solace in their union:
Enjoy each other’s company, any way you can.
Don’t forget to laugh together!
Participate in your spouse’s interests and passions. Or, at the very least, support them.
Develop new interests and passions together.
Find new activities and entertainment you both enjoy together.
Eliminate the unnecessary. (Hire a gardener instead of fighting about who mows the lawn.)
Spice up the humdrum. (When the kids are gone, cook and clean together in risqué outfits to exciting music.)
Double-date with other couples.
Participate in couple’s events, classes and retreats.
Get new ideas in couples counseling.