“God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them ...” (Gn 1:27).
Type A and Type B he created them.
No, Genesis 1:27 doesn’t include that last line. But any newlyweds asking any “oldyweds” about the truth of it are likely to hear some form of: “Oh, my! Yes! Let me tell you about ...”
So many variations, so many adventures, over so many years based on the simple fact that you (singular) are not the same as your spouse. Sometimes he or she will be so maddening because:
• Your suggestion (your way!) truly is the better one.
• His or her suggestion (presented in a way that seems so bossy and stubborn) is ... not bad. Is kind of OK. All right — it’s good, too.
Ah, but here’s where it gets interesting, an “oldywed” might point out. Sometimes the ... uh ... discussion won’t hinge on an opinion or preference but on how your dear, sweet spouse is hard-wired.
You, a Type A, like to get things done. Like to keep moving. Like to make a to-do list and crush it. Daily. (Not to mention your five-year plan.)
While your sweetie pie moseys through life at a slower pace. A more pleasant pace in his or her eyes. A glacial one, in yours. A classic Type B.
On Saturday morning your plan is both of you tear up part of the lawn, edge the spot with scalloped red-brick blocks from the lumber yard, get some fresh dirt and peat moss and flowering bushes from the local nursery, prepare the soil, plant the bushes, water the bushes ... and then make an early lunch.
Your soulmate would prefer both of you just take a stroll through the neighborhood. A leisurely stroll, sniffing some flowers along the way. Then toddle back, get in the car, and find some place to enjoy a late brunch.
All of this because you both agreed it would be great if you spent some time together to smell the roses.
The labels, Type A and Type B, are a handy way — a popular theory — to describe how some of us tend to behave.
In scriptural terms, you’re a Martha or a Mary (Lk 10:38-42). You’re either concerned about many things or content just to sit around with the Lord.
An unbreakable team
But Martha and Mary were sisters. Not spouses. So perhaps they weren’t called by God to be as responsible for helping each other become better persons. But you are for your spouse. And your spouse is for you.
There’s the rub. Of all the people in the world, you (singular) have entered a vocation that includes helping your loved one become the person God created him or her to be. And for your spouse, to use a modern phrase, it’s right back atcha.
Then again, perhaps both of you are Type A and merrily accomplish many, many things. Good for you! Or perhaps you’re both Type B. Like a pair of tortoises, your slow and steady pace takes you through decades of marital joy.
Even so, no matter how compatible the two of you are, you’ll never be completely compatible all the time on all things. All choices. All decisions. All ideas. All beliefs. All actions.
When it comes to marriage and family life, often it’s easier to debate the global issues (Should the capital of Israel be moved to Jerusalem? Should NATO do this or that? Should the tariff be increased for imports from ...?) than it is to reach an accord on the truly domestic ones.
Should we go to the late Saturday afternoon Mass or the midmorning Sunday one?
Do we want to order a pizza from Domino’s or swing by Little Caesar’s?
Would it be better if we both worked full time outside the home and put the kids in day care?
Are we going to have Christmas dinner at my parents or yours? (Danger: minefield.)
Will it be Catholic school, public school or home-school?
Oh, there’s a long and ever-changing list. Really long.
Is it time to move to an assisted-living facility? If so, which one?
And where should we buy our burial plots?
Things to consider
A few points to consider, you young lovebirds, from us old crows:
1. Differences in your marriage are like a grain of sand in an oyster. It’s how pearls are made. No, that’s not right. They can be like a grain of sand in an oyster. Or like a rock in your shoe.
2. Yes, opposites attract, and in some ways every couple is a pair of opposites. Fortunately, it isn’t just you and him or her. It’s you, him or her — and the Holy Spirit. (Three cheers for the Sacrament of Marriage!)
3. If you call in a professional to get rid of an infestation of ants in your house, you can certainly see the value of getting singles or couples counseling when some aspects of your relationship are starting to really bug you. A bunch of little things can be, or can become, a big thing.
4. Differ kindly. Listen. Another’s opinion can give you a fuller perspective.
5. Think of your differences (both hardwired and other) as mental and spiritual yoga. No, nothing to do with deities but a lot to do with helping you become more flexible.
6. Two heads can be better than one. Add in two hearts and two souls, and you — husband and wife — can have a bit of heaven on earth.
Type A and Type B he created them.
And God saw that it was good.
Bill Dodds writes from Washington.
|Nurture, Nature ... And In-Laws
“As the twig is bent ...”
“... so grows the tree.”
It isn’t just nature that motivates your spouse to move one way or another, prefer one way or another, act one way or another. It’s nurture, too.
And that can be good — or not so good.
It isn’t just that in some ways, as created beings, we’re “preprogrammed.” Our early influences, both positive and negative, “reprogram” or develop us to one degree or another.
But don’t panic. The Creator of nature, who is pure nurture (pure love) itself, not only can be — but wants to be — at the heart of your relationship with your spouse. And at the core of your marriage.
Then, too, it isn’t just your spouse who’s a little ... bent. So are you. It’s just that you might not be so quick to notice it.
For instance, your in-laws love playing cards when you all get together. And they love competing. The goal isn’t so much playing as winning.
You don’t care for card games. You don’t care about always winning. And you certainly don’t understand why it would matter who wins at a game of cards after Thanksgiving dinner or at a Fourth of July gathering.
You are headed for trouble. But you do have choices.
• Convert. You can come over to the dark side — or the light side, depending on one’s point of view. You can end your “card-playing mixed marriage” by become a take-no-prisoners card-game aficionado.
• Turn up the corners of your lips as you grit your teeth (that is, smile) as you participate and pretend to care.
• Gracefully bow out and establish the tradition of being a “card-game bower-outer.”
(Based on his own experience, the author heartily recommends the third choice. Neither his in-laws nor his wife ever begged him to join the game once they realized he didn’t like cards and didn’t care about winning a pile of poker chips, a hand, a deal or a game.)
It’s good to keep in mind that what makes your family of origin colorfully eccentric, unique and original can seem to your spouse to be further proof that it’s ... well ... just plain weird.
And both of you are right.