May 12, 2018

A Great Marriage Despite (Bi)Polar Opposite Partners

Just a forewarning, this post may be a little (or a lot) sappy. I'm married to a pretty cool guy, and I might do some gushing here and there ;)


A reader recently submitted a question via my blog topic suggestion form, and it's a question I've actually been asked quite a few times recently. It differs from the normal topics on my blog, so I thought it would be fun to write about.

The reader asked:
"Hi! Would love to hear more about your marriage; you mentioned how you and your husband have nothing in common on one of your recent posts... my husband and I are the same way... I'd love to hear some ideas of how you find common interests and make it work, growing your relationship!"
First, some background...

Jerry and I met when I was 17 and he was 18. Here is the story of how we met. I knew from our first date that I was going to marry him, and I even wrote it in my journal that night. We were young when we got engaged--20 and 21--and were married the following year. So, we were together for four years before we got married; and this August, we will celebrate our 15-year wedding anniversary.


When we got married, it was clear that people thought we were too young. We were each others' first real relationship, and we were inexperienced with life in general. But somehow, I had no doubts whatsoever about the marriage. We got along so well, and we truly loved spending time together.


Fast forward to 2018, and we are still very happily married! We most certainly have our ups and downs like any other couple, and we've had good years and not-so-great years; but overall, I would say our marriage is very successful.

Which is odd, because we are complete opposites of each other. When I say opposites, I mean we have NOTHING in common.

As a side note, I want to share a very mind-blowing statistic that relates to us. In the United States and Canada, at least 40% of all marriages fail--those obviously aren't great odds. But in a relationship where one partner has bipolar disorder? There is a whopping 90% failure rate! (source) I wrote a post about how bipolar has affected my marriage which may help explain why we have managed to stay a part of that 10% success statistic so far.

Anyway, how do Jerry and I not only manage to stay together, but also manage to stay together happily while we have no common interests?

  Because we are opposites, we balance each other out really well. For example, Jerry is very social and outgoing, while I am very introverted and a homebody. So, if not for him, I would likely have zero social life; and if not for me, he would never spend any time at home. In ways like that, opposites really do attract.

  Jerry and I also trust each other with all of our being--I've never trusted anyone like I trust him, and I am very comfortable talking to him about anything at all. He feels the same about me. We don't have any secrets from each other, and we really enjoy talking about our feelings. It makes communication so much easier when you don't have to hold anything back! If I'm mad at him for whatever reason, I don't have to beat around the bush... I can just tell him. And if my mood is a little too crazy for him, he can tell me so.

  As far as our interests go... this is a tougher issue. My therapist actually brought this up with me recently, because she asked what we're going to do to stay happy when the kids move out of the house. We'll only have each other for entertainment most of the time, so we need to find hobbies or activities that we both enjoy doing together.

Up until I started losing weight, much of our relationship revolved around food. We enjoyed going out to eat, and even binge eating in the evenings. After the kids were in bed, we'd dig out some junk food and watch a movie (while eating the entire time). It was no wonder we both gained so much weight! In December 1999, Jerry weighed about 155 pounds; by 2009, he was up to 253 pounds (we had the same starting weight, hahaha).


  Once we started living a healthier and more active lifestyle, we weren't able to use the movies and eating as a "date night" and we had to look at other options. So, we started thinking outside our little box, and trying new things for our "dates". Jerry is typically up for anything at all (another thing that we don't have in common--I am much more reserved), so we tried anything I suggested.

Now, there are a lot of times we compromise on dates--if it's something that Jerry really wants to do, I will do it for him. And vice versa. However, we've also managed to find some things that we both really like and look forward to!

Here are some examples of dates we both enjoy:

  Going out for drinks and Keno at the local bar

  Having another couple over to play Euchre (or other games)


  Having a movie night at home--cuddling up on the couch with a snack and watching a movie

  Going through old photos and reminiscing

  Taking selfies and video selfies while being goofy


  A picnic in the park

  A long walk or bike ride (we both have to be in the mood for this, which is rare)

  Thrift shopping at Salvation Army or at garage sales

  Doing our own thing... together. (I might sit on the couch and write a blog post while he plays a game on the Xbox. It sounds lame, but we enjoy each other's company even when not doing the same activity.)

  Sitting on the back deck in the summer with a cold beer and just chatting

  Comedy clubs

  Taking "couples" quizzes or answering questions out loud (we recently had a BLAST going through this book below (Amazon affiliate link) and seeing how compatible we are--the results are that we are extremely incompatible, hahaha)


And that's about all I can come up with right now. There are things we each enjoy doing individually, so we'll do those things with a friend to spare each other having to do something we don't really like.

  Something else we do that I think helps us stay happy in our marriage is that we go on solo trips sometimes. Since we have such different interests, we'll each plan visits with friends who have the same interests we do. Then, we can get our fix of doing the things we enjoy with someone else who enjoys it as well. 

For example, I'm going to Kansas City this weekend to spend time with a few of my girlfriends, doing "girlfriend-y" things ;) In July, Jerry is going to Wisconsin to visit a friend and go to some beer festival. He's happy that I get to go have fun doing things that he's not interested in, and I'm happy that he's going to attend a beer festival with someone who is just as excited as he is about beer. We text each other pictures throughout our trips and then excitedly recap the details for each other when we get home. We love hearing the excitement in each other's voices as we share our favorite parts of the trip.

And one of the best parts is that we actually miss each other--being away from each other for a few days sort of renews the "butterflies" feeling. It gives our relationship a little "boost"! (We do go on trips together, as well; but those are difficult to plan, because we have such different interests.) 


I know going on solo trips isn't for everyone, so I'm not suggesting that all couples do it. But Jerry and I trust each other so completely that we sincerely want each other to do the things that we enjoy, even if it doesn't involve one of us. Hopefully that makes sense!

  Another thing that helps our marriage stay alive is that we express our gratitude for each other. I am SO grateful every single day that he gets up and goes to work a 12 hour shift in order to provide for our family. I never take this for granted, and I make sure to tell him this often. I don't ever want him to doubt that I am grateful for what he does for our family.


(Funny story behind this picture... Jerry told me to take a selfie of me looking all happy while he was in the ER and post it on Instagram so that my "haters" would talk about how much of a pretentious asshole I am. He was a little high on morphine, and he told me to take a video... so I took a video of him telling me all about how I should post this photo for my haters. It was hilarious! He later had no recollection of saying those things.) 

And likewise, Jerry thanks me for doing the things that I believe are "expected" of me... doing the laundry, cooking dinner, going grocery shopping, etc. He notices when I buy something at the grocery store that he didn't ask for, but that I think he would like. He gets excited that I make it a point to cook his favorite dinner on a day that is particularly stressful for him. 


Since we've been together so long, it would be easy to take everything for granted, because it's so routine. But we make sure to continue to let each other know that the little things matter and that we are grateful for each other.

  Finally, we don't compare our relationship to others. Our expectations are reasonable (I am not expecting to go on dates like they portray on The Bachelor, for example!). We don't force ourselves to do the stereotypical romance--roses, fancy candlelight dinners, etc. We consider it a "date" when we go grocery shopping together! 


We enjoy each other's company, no matter what we're doing. I think that stems from fully trusting each other, sharing our honest feelings, showing our gratitude for each other, and laughing together. The laughter is key for us! We have lots of inside jokes that nobody would understand but us, and we love the opportunity to bring them up. 


In one final, sappy, note, I think our marriage is happy because Jerry and I are best friends. A best friend is someone you can have fun with in pretty much any circumstance, even if it's just sitting on the couch and chatting. We trust each other completely, and we love spending time together. 


We may not be compatible when it comes to the direction of the toilet paper roll (it MUST go over, not under, damnit!) or have the same interests in hobbies, but we fit together like Legos. (I warned you that this post would be sappy!)

If you have any secrets to a happy marriage that you'd like to share, please do! I'd love to read them. 


15 comments:

  1. I loved this post so much! After reading it I inmediately went to hug my boyfriend in bed, and we cuddled all morning. <3 My partner and I don't have many things in common, except that we both LOVE food! He gets very happy when I make his favorite Mexican dish "chilaquiles,"(which I'm cooking tonight.) Like you, we also enjoy spending time together while we do our things. I work on my blog while he plays videogames, and we love the feeling of sharing the same room. Or even if we are in the computer in separate rooms, we check out on each other every 30 minutes or so. We both support each other on our dreams and like talking about things we want to do in the future, like traveling together, getting married and having children.

    I believe the fact we have different hobbies makes our relationship extra special. We complement each other perfectly. :)

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  2. Love this! I'm glad the two of you found each other. And I agree, having realistic expectations is so important! It shouldn't be all drama or complaining about your spouse, but it definitely isn't like the movies either! ;)

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  3. I totally agree the the TP should go over, and that's about the only thing that my hubby and I can agree on! HAHAHA, but really I think that since we aren't so alike is why we (and you and Jerry) work!

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  4. You said it multiple times --you TRUST each other.

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  5. Great post Katie. Thanks for sharing :)

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  6. I also love this post. Reminds me of my own marriage in some ways. Glad you have someone who loves you for you and thinks you're awesome ;)

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  7. TP goes under, definitely if you have a cat who likes to unravel it!

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  8. This was so adorable!! You two are just do damn cute! <3 I love some of these date ideas. I'm always looking for new ideas!

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  9. Ahh, I just love this so much!! I'm so happy that you and Jerry have each other (and your boys of course). I've read your blog for years and feel like I know you guys lol.

    My mom is bi-polar. She and my dad have been married since she was 20 and he was 19 (43 years!). They are complete opposites and are still going strong. It's not always rainbows and sunshine, but it is working! :)

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  10. I don't know what it was about this post but it made me super miss you. *hugs*

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  11. Love this! You said why your marriage works, trust & communication!
    In my humble opinion, essential elements.
    When I started to date my husband, I knew within 2 weeks I would marry him. I avoided him for so long because he wasn't "my type"! We'll celebrate 28 years of marriage in August. One of the "dates" we enjoy is wandering around a neighborhood or area and just discovering something new to us. We get to walk around & just putter around, not having a particular plan. :)

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  12. Thank you for answering my questions! I wrote in not really thinking I'd get a response... turns out... you're da bomb! Lots of great ideas and takeaways from this post. Again, thank you!

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  13. I love how you share such personal feelings. Making yourself vulnerable gives you so much love and happiness in turn. Brene Brown has a lot to say about that.

    I also wanted to mention that the 40% divorce rate is a little deceiving. It's skewed by the fact that so many people who divorce once go on to divorce twice or three times. The rate for a first time marriage is much less.

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I'd love to hear from you! I read all of my comments, and if you have a question, I do my best to respond; sometimes, however, I get busy and forget to go back to reply, so if it's important, just email me! :) (I had to turn on comment moderation due to a ton of spam comments; but I will approve your comment asap!)

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