We’ve all heard the expression “opposites attract,” but have you ever wondered why? We may be looking for a mate that can compliment or complete us. In some cases, finding someone different from us takes us off the hook for changing ourselves and shifts the responsibility to someone else. Maybe the other person is better at some things that we’d rather not have to work at to change. For example, if our spouse is better interpersonally , we rely more on them to make connections. Our recent book, “The Love Fight” discusses these differences in personality when achievers and connectors marry. One spouse is focused more on achieving, working, and finding success through their career while the other person has a greater need to be connected and values relationships more than job success.
We are initially drawn to our spouse’s differences seeking a balance to our own traits and possibly wanting to be more like the other person. But over time our enthusiasm wanes and we get more stuck in our ways, rigidly focusing on our way of doing things. In some cases, our differences are amplified and the chasm grows wider. When one person strives for greater career success while the other person seeks connection, the result is that over time the couple avoids and detaches. They focus more on fulfilling their own needs, especially if they discover that their partner has no interest in change. The couple meets their needs independently of each other which pulls them further apart.
Our personality differences don’t have to be the downfall of the relationship. Achiever-connector marriages can work. For starters, we need to remind ourselves of our original attraction and accept our differences as an asset rather than a liability. Recognize that we can grow and learn a new repertoire of behaviors when we find value in our partner’s differences. Appreciate your partner for who they are rather than who they’re not. When we’re open and receptive to modifying our priorities and expanding our mindset we will have greater connection and peace in our relationships. Respecting each other’s differences and being flexible with the goal of compromise creates a positive connection. Lastly, recognize that both achievers and connectors have value and purpose in relationships when they are successful at maintaining a healthy balance.