I don’t remember the moment I realized that I was going to marry my complete opposite. It might have been the the personality test we took a few months before walked down the aisle that put us on complete opposite ends of the spectrum, defining us as having the “most conflicting personalities.”
If you ask him, it might be the day I walked into our just purchased home, took one look at the nasty carpet, walked to the corner, peeled its edge and ripped it all up. Apparently, that wasn’t in the “order of operation” of his perfectly detailed renovation plan. His frustration was apparent and continued with my simple explanation of “What? It was gross. It needed to be gone.” And my frustration was equally apparent at his detailed explanation of how it didn’t make sense to pull up the carpet without first repairing the kitchen because when we pull up the cabinets, we have to pull up the kitchen floors, and the kitchen floor is connected to the living room floor so…yeah, you get the picture. Needless to say, the opposite nature of how our brains work were revealed…and has continually been revealed over the last five years of marriage.
Most people will say that in order to have a happy marriage, you have to find someone who thinks the way you do, someone with whom you’re compatible. Sure, a valid point. Probably the best advice for a peaceful marriage and life. However, there is another option and for those of us willing to do the work–yes, I said work–it can far more beneficial.
This last month Kyle & I celebrated five years of marriage. FIVE. I can’t decide whether it feels like longer or whether its flown by. I suppose a little of both. We haven’t had a normal experience, for sure.
About two weeks into our marriage is when the cancer diagnosis came so in the midst of learning to be married, we were learning to be cancer survivors, caretakers and fighters.
In some ways, it might have made the first year easier—who can fight about the way to load a dishwasher when I’m in and out of surgery every month—and in some ways, more difficult.
Kyle & I are so different. He’s detailed, analytical and a planner. On the Strengthfinder test, all five of his top strengths were under strategic. I’m charismatic, spontaneous and a visionary. He reads manuals, spending hours preparing and doing it perfectly the first time. I ignore the manual, grab some friends and go for it, not caring if I mess up because the process has been fulfilling and we’ve laughed, cried & encountered Jesus along the way. We end up in the same place but the way we got there was completely different, each wonderful and perfect in its own right.
There are a lot of reasons why marrying someone like yourself can be great. He probably communicates the way you do so understanding each other will be natural. You’ll have common interests and he’ll be passionate about you’re passionate about. Things that frustrate you will frustrate him, things that excite you will excite him, and so on.
But on the other hand, there are some downsides. Your weaknesses are his weaknesses and your blind spots are his blind spots. It’ll be hard to identify areas of growth or potential pitfalls because you’ll both naturally be looking from the same perspective.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that Kyle & I were not that couple, nor did we have that type of relationship.
Our opposite personalities put us at great risk for failure but it also put us at great risk to be great.
We have the potential to have the type of relationship where we truly come together and are whole because what I cannot see, he sees. What I forget, he remembers. He creates foundations on which I can be free to build.
When I was in my early twenties, my mentor, Michal Ann Goll told me something that I will never forget. She said, “Mallory, it’s like you have a pistol with an endless supply of ammo inside. You have so much courage and strength, you’ll never have problems pulling the trigger. But if you’re not careful, you won’t actually be aiming at anything…and then what’s the point? Take some time. Relax. Find your target…and then shoot.”
I think about that all the time and what an answer to prayer Kyle is in my life. He brings balance & has taught me the value in slowing down, thinking things through, asking the hard questions and having the patience to find the right answers.
Five years might not seem like a long time, but for us, it’s well worth a celebration. Marriage isn’t easy and if it is, you might not be challenging yourselves enough.
When we got married, James (husband of Michal Ann) performed our ceremony and said something we try to remember every day:
“Do something great. Do something that Kyle, you could not do without Mallory, and Mallory, you could not do without Kyle. Come together and do something great for the world that you could never do alone.”
What would it look like if we all looked at marriage like this? An opportunity to partner together with someone who complements (not compliments!) us and together, we come together to do something that we truly could not do alone. Kyle & I are no masters of this, for sure, but I do know we’re trying…and that we aspire to leave a great legacy, for Lilian and for those around us.
If you’re reading this and have no idea of the similarities/differences you have with your spouse, I encourage you to explore the topic a bit. The original test Kyle & I took is the DISC Personality Test. If you don’t like that one, I’m sure there are others that are similar.