Read

5 Tips For Loving a Partner Who’s the Opposite of You

Published:
December 14, 2023
June 19, 2023
Are you and your partner total opposites? Here's how to "make it work".

You’ve probably heard before that opposites attract. For my husband and I, we fit this cliche with what seems like our whole being. 

He’s an introvert, while I’m more extroverted. I’m an external processor, often dumping a day’s worth of thoughts on him as soon as he walks in the door. He is an internal processor and sometimes needs lots of questions to bring out his deepest thoughts. He thinks logically while I think heavily with my feelings. He loves poverty and simplicity, while I tend to fall more on the bougie side of things. He speaks slowly and concisely, leaving plenty of silence in a conversation without any discomfort — while silence in a conversation makes me cringe. He loves hiking and the outdoors, while I much prefer lounging on the beach. He watches intense movies — I can only handle light-hearted films. And these are just a few of the ways we differ.

Don’t get me wrong, we have so much fun and love the beautiful life that is being crafted between us. Even in our differences, we’ve found that the foundation of our marriage — our belief in what love is — is something we wholeheartedly share. In one of his most well-known works, Summa Theologica, St. Thomas Aquinas writes that “to love means to will the good of another.” In a culture that says love is a feeling, a whim, an ebbing carnal desire, this definition lives in stark opposition to the idea of love that is most commonly propagated. Willing, making the choice, for another’s good despite our own experience — that is the work of real love. And that is the work that my husband and I have undertaken.

In any disagreement, misunderstanding, or conflict of desires, we are challenged to look at one another and say, “What is the greatest good for you and for our marriage?” We encourage one another to grow, to apologize, and to forgive. We ask ourselves, “Where can I sacrifice my own expectations out of love for my spouse?” or even, “How can I be patient with my desires in order to walk with my spouse towards them?”

As opposites, my husband and I have learned how to stand by each other “in good times and in bad” and to truly will the good of the other. We choose to do this not just because we love each other, but because we are partners on our journey. As Catholics, we believe that we are teleological beings — that we are made and created to pursue some end. For us, that end is sainthood. It’s eternity in Heaven with our loving Father and Creator. Marriage gifts us the opportunity to take on that journey with another person. Our spouse — with all their gifts, flaws, and quirks — becomes our companion on the road to eternal life. But every journey has its trials, and marriage is certainly no exception.

Fortunately, in our marriage, we’ve received some incredible tools and advice on how to “make it work” even when it’s hard. Because the truth is that love, in all its forms, takes work. So here’s what’s worked for us, and I hope it works for you, too.

1. Seek to grow in holiness and wholeness.

Your marriage can only benefit from your own healing, growth, and virtue. Have a prayer life, frequent the sacraments, grow intellectually. Take care of your body, your mind, and your heart. If you are who you were made to be, you will also be more free to love your spouse in who they are called to be, too.

2. Get on the same page.

This can be through weekly meetings, goal-setting sessions, or quick check-ins at the end of each day. Determine the vision for your marriage and family, what practically living that out will look like, and how you will come back together to discuss how it’s going. Your marriage isn’t a business, but it is ongoing work that takes intentional communication. Also, don’t be afraid if your goals take on a new form or change direction — this is a good sign that the both of you are growing!

3. Have mentors, friends, and guidance.

This has taken many forms for us. We’ve had many couples and families invest in our marriage who embody the ideals and values we want to live. We’ve gone through stints of both individual and couples counseling. We’ve sought out our own friendships and relationships outside of our marriage. This way, while we walk with one another in marriage, we also have others, who love us and desire our greatest good, holding us accountable in ways that only friends can.

4. Apologize and forgive.

You will be hurt by those who love you. And you will also hurt those you love the most. Because of this, we have to have the humility to accept that we are capable of doing wrong and the ability to apologize for it. In the same vein, we have to be willing to let our spouse know how they might be hurting us, and they must also be willing to take responsibility for their hurtful actions. Any imbalance here can lead to a real breakdown of trust and love. It is an ongoing work, but one worth pursuing. 

5. Learn to love what your partner loves.

Being opposites, my husband and I have fun in very different ways. Because of this, it’s important for us to make space for one another to pursue our joys and passions- together and apart. We fight to make time and space for the other to do what they need to do to thrive, and also take the time to do it together when possible. Because of this, we’ve both developed new skills and learned to truly take joy in new pursuits, and it’s become a simple and small way we can “die to ourselves” out of love for the other.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. But hopefully it is clear that even the most different personalities can become saints together when they know what it means to truly love and are willing to work for it.

Creators:
Claire Collins
Published:
December 14, 2023
June 19, 2023
On a related note...
Are You In An Abusive Relationship? Here’s How to Tell

Are You In An Abusive Relationship? Here’s How to Tell

Julia Hogan-Werner

Volunteer Nurse Cares for Isolated Migrant Shepherds

Volunteer Nurse Cares for Isolated Migrant Shepherds

Grotto

First Day of Spring Spotify Playlist | #GrottoMusic

First Day of Spring Spotify Playlist | #GrottoMusic

Grotto

10 Things Your New-Parent Friends Want You to Know

10 Things Your New-Parent Friends Want You to Know

Maria Walley

St. Francis of Assisi Spotify Playlist | #GrottoMusic

St. Francis of Assisi Spotify Playlist | #GrottoMusic

Grotto

Women Find Healing Through Kintsugi Workshop

Women Find Healing Through Kintsugi Workshop

Grotto

How to Set Resolutions — Without Setting Off Your Anxiety

How to Set Resolutions — Without Setting Off Your Anxiety

Lauren Lawson

Explore the Mysteries of the Universe with the Pope’s Astronomer

Explore the Mysteries of the Universe with the Pope’s Astronomer

Mike Jordan Laskey

8 Saints You’ll Want Interceding for Your Love Life

8 Saints You’ll Want Interceding for Your Love Life

Maria Walley

How to Heal From a Heartbreak

How to Heal From a Heartbreak

Makaela Douglas

8 Tips for Planning a Trip with Friends

8 Tips for Planning a Trip with Friends

Mary Claire Lagroue

Starting College? Here's the Advice You Really Need

Starting College? Here's the Advice You Really Need

Mike Tenney

Pier Giorgio Frassati Spotify Playlist | #GrottoMusic

Pier Giorgio Frassati Spotify Playlist | #GrottoMusic

Grotto

Struggling to Say 'No'? Try Prioritizing Better

Struggling to Say 'No'? Try Prioritizing Better

Khang Tran

Learning to Slow Down for Father-Daughter Time

Learning to Slow Down for Father-Daughter Time

Grotto

Fun and Affordable Date Ideas for Summer

Fun and Affordable Date Ideas for Summer

Josh Flynt

How to (Politely) Decline a Holiday Gathering

How to (Politely) Decline a Holiday Gathering

Lauren Lawson

These Ballplayers Are Embracing the Unexpected — Even Off the Field

These Ballplayers Are Embracing the Unexpected — Even Off the Field

Grotto Shares

5 Things You Need to Know About Meditation

5 Things You Need to Know About Meditation

Martha Reilly

3 Ways to Help a Friend with a Mental Illness

3 Ways to Help a Friend with a Mental Illness

Julia Hogan-Werner

newsletter

We’d love to be pals.

Sign up for our newsletter, and we’ll meet you in your inbox each week.