Marrying each other later in life, my husband and I were mature enough to find a pretty good match. Or so we thought. I was so confident, in fact, that when we were planning our wedding and the minister informed us that second marriages rarely work, and we should tell each other all our secrets immediately. Needless to say, I fired my minister and considered other options for the wedding. We ended up getting married outside an old cabin, with little structure and even less stress. It was perfect for us, and just my style.
As for style, my husband and I operate in opposite styles. I fly by the seat of my pants, and he does everything by the book. This works in our favor most of the time. On vacations, for example, he researches extensively before leaving, so he knows exactly where we are at all times, not only in relation to our destination, but in relation to the sun, the moon, and the planets. I, on the other hand, rarely have any idea where I am, and, if left to my own devices, would spend a significant amount of time being lost. His ways help our trips run smoother, and my ways loosen things up and leave room for spontaneous discoveries.
Things don’t always work in our favor. During our trip to New York City, for instance, sparks flew when he refused to take my picture in the lobby of a Broadway theater because there was a sign that said, “No Photos Allowed Inside Theater.”
Our well-oiled machine came to grinding halt again recently when we began preparing our income tax return. Normally Greg does the taxes by himself, crossing every “T” and dotting every “I,” and I happily leave the job to him. Last year, however, he made a $2000 mistake, so we decided that we would do them together this year. Having worked as a bookkeeper for 15 years, I am good with numbers and familiar with taxes, so we thought it would help.
It started in an orderly fashion, but when I insisted that my freelance deductions be entered into categories that did not exist, things began to deteriorate rapidly. Suddenly, he was shouting, “we are not going to deduct that, there’s no category for it, and I do not want to go to jail!” And I was shouting, “what’s the worst that can happen? You’re not going to go to jail!”
After each one of us had our turn at stomping out of the room, he said he found a category that would probably work, and the deduction was entered. That evening on our way to dinner, he calmly commented that he was relieved that we had finished doing the taxes. He had been dreading it for weeks, knowing I would certainly expect him to risk going to jail at some point. We had a good hard laugh, and went on our way.
It later occurred to me that the secret to our success is most likely our differences. I was confident once again that we were a good match, not because we were the same, but because we fit together. Like opposite spokes on a wheel, we meet in the middle, and the machine moves on as we help each other tackle challenges, and to go places we could never get to alone.