Wherein I muse on the attraction of opposites

G and I are as different as spaghetti and meatballs, – I’m all messy and tangled up where he’s proportioned and symmetrical. (some would call him OCD…) But, like spag and meatballs we can work very well together. Who doesn’t love spaghetti and meatballs? Plain spaghetti can be confusing and tiring (all that fork twisting) while meatballs alone are, well, too meaty. Too much of a good thing.

But the differences can also make for interesting moments in our lives together.

BOOKS & READING

Take books. Now both G and I love reading. Our son is a product of that side of ourselves and the three of us can spend hours sitting around the lounge reading in silence, broken only by forays into the kitchen for tea & biscuits, a sigh here, a giggle there and the sound of pages turning.

So where’s the difference? First off there’s subject matter. G’s bookshelf is groaning with books on spirituality (of all possible kinds) some self help books, tomes on history and a smattering of biographies, largely about surfers.

My reading material veers between trashy chicklit (think Barbara Trapido rather than Danielle Steele) to drama (I have almost all Jodi Picoult’s offerings), some poetry and a few classics.

We overlap somewhat when it comes to Paulo Coelho and biography, but most the time we’re literary worlds apart.

Then there’s the way we treat our books. I will read in the bath and sometimes the book will join me if the water’s warm enough. I read at the beach and at the pool, so greasy suntan oil stains and beer spills are derigeuer in summer. I will dog ear the pages or even fold them completely in half, and many of my books sadly suffer severe spinal injuries due to being left butterflied on the floor / bedside table / beach sand.

Now G is a very… special …person when it comes to the way he treats books. For example: he works off shore so every two months I spend an amusing evening watching him pack. He comes from Navy stock and it shows. A place for everything and everything in its place etc. He always takes 4 – 8 books along to pass the evenings on board and each time he packs he will take an old carboard  container or shoe box and cut, shape and sellotape it into a perfect-size box for the pile of books. When I first met him and he was a bit of a hippy, sometimes a homeless one; he often carried all his worldly possessions on his back (there weren’t many of them at the time). They always including a small stash of books wrapped in a sarong for safekeeping in his backpack. Special I tell you. But kind of endearing. Still he gets annoyed when I smile out loud (he calls it laughing) at him for building book boxes, while the sight of my manhandling my books drives him into a frenzy of teeth-grinding. Often he will be quite sweet / compulsively annoying and find random bits of paper or card to hold my place in a book, thus releasing it from its spread-eagled position.

BATHMAT WARS

Another way we’re very different is our differing relationships to the humble bathmat. For me, it lies there just waiting to soak up the water from my bath-warmed feet while I towel the rest of myself rather haphazardly dry. Well, dry-ish. This is in G’s mind a viable cause for a trial separation. He will dry each foot, one by one, (in-between all the toes I’m sure) on the side of the bath before stepping on to the mat. If I try doing this I generally fall over. Baths make bruises. And for pity’s sake why have a bathmat if you’re going to stand on it dry? He will then proceed to towel every inch of his sizeable skin bone dry. It drives him mad to see me pulling on a t-shirt that sticks to my recently-bathed skin. Or to spot bits of bubble-bath bubbles under my ear.

My therapist actually could not stop herself from laughing out loud when I was talking bathmats with her (aren’t therapists meant to be calm, non judgmental and expressionless in the face of any confession from the couch? I may need to fire mine; she regularly needs to wipe tears of mirth from her eyes while I’m pouring my heart out. PS she doesn’t really have a couch. Just a comfy old chair). Annnnnyhow said therapist advised me to buy my own bathmat for when I stay over at G’s so that I can hang my sodden one on the line and his can remain forever dry and pointless.

How else do we differ? Let me count the ways…

I rise at dawn and enjoy a walk and swim at the beach before work. He thinks getting up early is a sin. I guess this is because when he’s on the rig he HAS to get up at 5.30 every single morning.

I fall asleep in 96% of DVDs including the ones I’ve chosen (more on that later) and no matter how scary they are. 30 minutes into any DVD that we start watching after 8 pm I’ll be in dreamland. He cannot let me be. He HAS to wake me up every 5 minutes. It annoys the crap out of me.

He will eat out every night if he had his way. I enjoy a nice meal out, but start to crave home cooked meals featuring steamed vegetables after the 5th steak of the week.

He has to make the bed perfectly. Like, not a wrinkle in the sheet. Duvet pulled perfectly smooth and 100% even on all sides. Pillows crisp and set square. It makes me want to jump in the middle of it as soon as he’s done. But I could handle that if it wasn’t for his insistence that I, too, make the bed perfectly. Which I, of course, refuse to do.

WHEN YOUR PARTNER IS NOT YOUR SOULMATE

Recently G said to me, we’re not exactly the ideal match. We’re not soul mates. But somehow here we are. Together. Loving each other. Driving each other crazy. Loving our son and his daughter. Being a family.

And, he said, when I’m in the room, even if we’re reading different books, it just feels right, me being there with him.

And the thing is – I have met men who would be (on paper) a much better match for me. But you know what? I am just not attracted to them.

Interesting things, relationships.

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9 Responses to Wherein I muse on the attraction of opposites

  1. I dont need to reiterate how I can totally relate. Just – how on earth would us OCD’s get on with other OCD’s and how would the book bending, mat wetting non-OCD’s get on with their like?

    Definitely interesting things, relationships! 🙂

  2. dpixel365 says:

    Great Piece!!!
    Opposite do attract; it would be seemlessly boring otherwise 😀

  3. Dave Beer says:

    Brilliant article. Made me smile and think about parallels.

    • Dave! 🙂 How did you find this blog? It’s only officially ‘marketed’ on twitter, not FB – we need to chat online again soon, wondering what’s going on in your life… xxx

  4. Bronwen says:

    I loved reading this! 🙂 I’m a firm believer in differences. They bring out the best and the worst, as well as the honest and the flawed in you, as a human being, in all the right ways, even if it’s a little painful to face. The man I love is my exact opposite and best friend (and that’s all we are – friends), and I treasure the times we spend together…. being totally different, and also the odd moments that take me by suprise every now and then when we’re just the same. If we were all the same, through and through, there would be no challenges…. no LIFE to live and BREATH to breathe. It’s a blessing. I may not know you or your man, but I have a funny little niggly feeling, reading your story, that you are both indeed eachothers’ soulmate 🙂

    • Thanks for the lovely comments. And I hope one day your friend wakes up and sees what’s right in front of him!

      As for soulmates, don’t let G hear you say that ‘evil word’ – he doesn’t believe in such a ‘romantic’ (i/e stupid, in his opinion) notion. Not sure I do either – of if there are soulmates then I think we all have more than one…

      But yes, opposites do indeed bring a challange to the whole experience…

      • Bronwen says:

        Most of the time I secretly hope for the very same thing 🙂 But if it isn’t right for him, I would rather keep the wonderful friendship that I’m so lucky to have with him 🙂

        Romantic soulmates are something I’m yet (hopefully soon) to know anything about, but I do believe that we all have countless soulmates in our lifetimes…. families, children, friends, random strangers for short periods of time etc. Not all are meant to spend a large amount of time within our lives, but certainly leave a lasting impression, whether it be a lesson learned or like a guardian angel leading you to the right path….

        Oh and the challenge is so worth it! 🙂

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