We're Incompatible

 by Chuck Snyder
 co-chaplain for the Seattle Mariners

 

Dear Chuck,
I thought my husband and I were perfectly compatible when we were dating. What happened?  We are so different now. It’s almost as if I dated one man and married another.

Chuck's Response
Well, most of the time in a dating situation, the man and woman are not sharing negatives.  If they were to have a difference of opinion, usually they wouldn't say THAT'S DUMB!  They would say..."My what an interesting viewpoint I don't think I have ever looked at it that way ... tell me more about that." We men are especially on our best behavior.  We have a goal, and that is to marry this little doll we have discovered.  We don't mean to be deceptive.  That is not what is in our hearts, but I guess that's what it appears like later.  

While dating, we men make a date for a quiet dinner and look deeply into our beloved's eyes and say things like...... “What are your goals? How is your Mom doing?  When can we go shopping again!" Even women present their best side. Let’s say a man loves fixing up cars.  His girlfriend packs a little lunch for the two of them ... sits on the fender and asks questions about what a carburetor does.  During the conversation she mentions how much she enjoys the state fair, and she especially likes the cross stitch exhibit and the display in the agricultural barn where they put the apples in patterns.  He says "Lets make a date to go.  I'll put it on my September calendar." Then the couple gets married.  His eyes now glaze over when she mentions her Mom or her goals or what her heart is saying, and she thinks he should get rid of the old wrecks that he thought she used to love fixing.  She wants to go to the fair, but he's seen the fair once, why would he want to go again.  All of a sudden they are COMPLETE OPPOSITES and they have no idea what happened.
When Barb and I were dating, I was attracted to this outgoing, friendly, vivacious girl.  Barb was attracted to me by what she called my “quiet" spirit.  The problem is that usually the things that attract us to each other in dating ... become some of our greatest irritations after we get married.  For instance I didn't know it would take me 3 hours to get out of a social gathering because my outgoing, friendly, vivacious wife had to TALK to everyone.  And she didn't know that my quiet spirit meant that I was upset over something and I didn't feel like talking for a couple of days. We quickly learned other things about each other, she wanted to resolve conflict immediately.  I wanted to AVOID conflict immediately.  She liked small intimate groups where we could share deeply with other people.  I liked LARGE intimate groups where we didn't HAVE to share very deeply.  She liked cooked vegetables.  I hated cooked vegetables.  I noticed that Barb took notes in PENCIL, if you can believe that.  I think we should take notes in ink, and in fact my preference is a black Flair pen with a broad point where I can make a statement to the world and stand behind it never to change or give in. Barb likes the windows in our bedroom open.  I like them closed because they let in bugs and pollen which makes me sneeze.  We have a water fountain outside our bedroom window that makes noise.  She needs to have the fountain shut off at night so she can't hear it.  I suggested we just shut the window so she can't hear the fountain and then we wouldn't have an extra thing to remember.  She decided she likes the window open so I do a lot of sneezing.  She wants all the clocks in our life set on "really time".  I want all the clocks in my life set 7 minutes fast so I won't be late for things.  Five minutes would not work for me because it is too easy to compute.  If my watch is 7 minutes fast, then it's more complicated to figure out what "really time" is, so I just leave for the meeting when my watch says time to go, and on and on it goes.  We turned out to be the World's Most Opposite Couple!  How in the world did that happen?
The trick to a satisfying relationship is to concentrate on how the other person is designed.  If I try to please Barb and do things that make her feel loved, and if she tries to please me and does things that make me feel loved ... then the circle of our relationship goes up, On the other hand when we do nothing but tear the other person down and criticize, the circle goes downward and it sometimes ends up with the couple going separate ways.
Oh by the way, Barb and I HAVE found a couple of areas we DO have in common.  We were married on the same day..... and have the same kids, but that's the END of our compatibility ... except our commitment to each other ... and that's what makes the whole thing work.
Chuck Snyder
 

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Contact Chuck: chuck@chucksnyder.org
Updated 05/24/2005