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Ron was initially attracted to Anna because she had her life so together. She knew what she wanted to do for a career and actively worked to achieve her career goals. She was at the top of her class and kept striving to be better. Anna aced all her assignments while holding down a part-time job. Somehow she managed to do that and make time for her family and close friends. He was in awe!
Anna loved Ron’s creativity and adventurousness. One day he was working on a painting, the next he was going skydiving. Life was always a blast with him! He had friends he went on wild adventures with to places like India and Thailand. He helped her stretch out a bit by going to the Philippines. She had never been out of Canada before! They ate foods she never even knew existed and created a painting on an enormous canvas together. It was so exciting being with him.
At least that was the way it was in the beginning.
Ten years later Anna worked hard in her career. She had to work long hours but needed to support their growing family. Sometimes she felt like all she did was work! And when she came home, she had to work some more. The house was a catastrophe! The disorder drove her crazy. She felt like a nag with both Ron and the kids telling them to pick up, put things in their place, and clean as they went. It seemed like they just ignored her!
Ron worked part-time doing odd jobs and took care of the kids. It was a decision they both made knowing she was always going to be making the higher salary. Ron just hadn’t found the right job yet. It seemed like after a year or two in a job he’d get bored and move onto something else. One of these days the right job was going to come along and in the meantime, he put his energy into making sure the kids were exposed to a variety of creative and adventurous activities.
Days at home with the kids were never the same. One day they might explore finger or toe painting, then go walking through the woods. Another day they’d play Marco Polo at the swimming pool with the neighborhood kids, go eat sushi, and go home to bake cookies.
Both were feeling increasingly frustrated with one another. Why did Ron make such a mess at home with the kids every day and not even seem to notice? When was he going to settle in one job-or better yet, a career? What made Anna so uptight about mealtimes, schedules, and plans? They were driving each other crazy!
Anna was an introvert. She concentrated on spending time with close family and friends that she loved. Ron was the opposite. He loved being social. When he needed to recharge his batteries, he wanted to socialize while Anna wanted to be alone.
Anna was a planner who liked to start and finish projects. She had a difficult time sitting down unless the work was done. Ron was an experiencer. He wanted to get the most out of life, to create, to explore, and to go with the flow.
The question both wondered was, can people with such different personality differences stay together?
Anna and Ron are like many couples who are drawn to the very attributes that eventually drive them crazy. Part of the challenge for couples like them is to accept and respect those differences without trying to change them. What they do have to do, however, is learn to talk about those differences and negotiate resolutions that are going to work for each of them.
Part of finding a resolution may include respecting the different ways each may need to do that. For example, Anna would like to talk through things as they happened to nip them in the bud. Ron, on the other hand, needs times to process how he feels. Trying to force him to work it out in the moment would backfire.
Opposites can learn to appreciate each other’s strengths and different ways of doing things. For example, Anna’s good planning skills may help them in putting together a vacation. Once they arrive, Ron’s adventurousness may help them have a really fun trip while his go with the flow attitude may help both of them unwind and relax.
During my work with couples, I help them learn to negotiate differences and remember what they really like about each other. Want things to get better? Let’s talk.