Pete and I are a lot different:
- I prefer hot weather; he prefers cold.
- I like red; he likes blue.
- I’m from the South; he hails from the north.
- I refuse to own a van or station wagon; he wants both.
- I talk a lot; he doesn’t.
- I love books; he owns zero in our combined collection.
- I’m terrible at recalling movie plots; he’ll remember minute details.
- I love the beach; he’ll take the mountains.
- I like pumpkin-flavored anything; he doesn’t.
- He’s techie, I’m definitely not.
You get the idea.
I think there’s weight to the whole “opposites attract” thing, but without some core similarities, we’d be in trouble. I call these non-negotiables. Here are my big three:
1. Our Faith
Faith is at the foundation of who we are. It drives our morals, what we value, our worldview and how we interact with people. That’s not to say we don’t differ on a few aspects of our faith, because we do, but the heart of our beliefs remains the same.
I know couples where each person claims a different faith or spiritual outlook, and I gotta say, I personally couldn’t do it. Asking two people to do life together can be challenging as is, but I think throwing in competing faiths would be difficult because of all the areas of life it impacts. Even my past boyfriend/girlfriend relationships got hairy when conflicting religious views entered the mix.
2. Love and Respect for Each Other’s Families
Another biggie we have in common is love and respect for each other’s families. My family hasn’t always liked the guys I’ve chosen to date, and I can say there’s a huge difference between them liking the guy or not. There’s a difference in the atmosphere and in the relationship between me and them.
Now that I’ve acquired in-laws, and become an in-law, I can see why people warn newlyweds that you’re not just marrying your spouse; you’re also binding yourself to your spouse’s family. If Pete didn’t treat his family well, that could make things awkward on my end. If he had a rocky relationship with my family, I probably wouldn’t see them as much. And vice versa. Thankfully, that isn’t the case.
Expert after expert, though, will tell you that neither faith nor in-laws are the main source of tension in a marriage. They say the No. 1 offender is money.
Pete and I occasionally vary on what we’d like to spend money on, but over the past six years, we’ve pretty much been on the same page financially. We’ve set goals and hashed out any differing opinions. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen backlash from couples being off-kilter on this, and that’s one boat I don’t want to be in.
What Are Yours?
Billy Graham’s wife, Ruth, used to say, “If two people agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary.”
Marriage doesn’t mean you’re a spittin’ image of the other person, that you have to mirror every action and thought, but for me anyway, the similarities seem to be the glue in the marriage. It’s one thing to balance each other out with your differences—he’s level-headed when I’m moody; I’m peppy when he’s had a bad day—but it’s another thing to be out of step with each other when your views on the big players in life don’t align.
No marriage is perfect, of course, but why make it harder?
What things do you and your spouse need to have in common to make your marriage work? What are your non-negotiables?