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 | By Steve and Bridget Patton

He Says: We Love Each Other but Are So Different

We are thinking about getting married, but are opposite in so many ways I’m afraid it won’t work.


She says: Opposites attract!

Yes, we’re definitely different but still very compatible. We have to trust each other.


The notion that “opposites attract” is a paradox.

On the one hand, it’s certainly true. The very attraction between a man and a woman is one of opposites. It’s also common for us to be drawn to places, things and people that are different from or even the opposite of what’s familiar to us. As the poet William Cowper famously put it, “Variety is the very spice of life.” Even more so, what’s different and opposite between two people as individuals can be exactly what complements and strengthens them as a couple.

But on the other hand, it’s an urban myth. The fact is, most people marry people like them in terms of religious and cultural background, level of education,  spending habits, temperament, age, core values, etc. There is much wisdom in a parent’s satisfaction – and sigh of relief – when their child finds a spouse who is not only good but also shares the same values.

So, what to do?

First, don’t leave this to chance or wishful thinking.

It’s a proven fact that significant differences in a marriage introduce a risk factor to its happiness and durability. Thoroughly talk this through, perhaps with an older, wiser, mutually trusted counselor or spiritual advisor.

Second, think ahead realistically.

The differences that you find attractive and endearing now can eventually become, over the long years of a marriage, irksome and even loathsome. What are you each actually capable of, and committed to doing, to prevent that from happening?

Third, know that some differences, such as core values, matter more than others – such as interests.

If one of you is deeply into his or her religious beliefs and practices and the other wants nothing to do with religion, that’s huge, and it’ll only get bigger once children come along. Scripture is clear: “Do not be yoked with those who are different, with unbelievers.” (2 Cor. 6:14) But if one of you loves outdoor stuff and the other is a homebody, that’s manageable.

Finally, as Benjamin Franklin advised, “Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards.”

In other words, fully know both what you’re getting yourself into and what you’re capable of. And then, if you do marry, be ready to adapt to, endure and even love each other’s differences.

Steve and Bridget Patton hold master’s degrees in theology and counseling and serve as family life ministers in the Diocese of Sacramento.

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