In movies, books and even in real life, opposites attract. You understand the science behind magnets, right? Enough said. My question is does this attraction of opposites last when the novelty wears off?
This is the true story of two ordinary high school students growing up in tiny towns in the Midwest. Let’s call them J. and K. They are both juniors in high school and couldn’t be more different. J. is a serious scholar who prefers his own company. K. is a cheerleader, life of the party who is never alone. J. abhors attention; K. thrives on it. J. is not a big talker; K. talks all the time. They are both juniors in high school and in the same class. J. loves the logic of math; K. can not remember a number to save her life. K. loves speech and drama; J. would rather be a prompter behind the scenes. Both are on the honor roll and in band. One day while playing her clarinet, K. looks over at J. playing his saxophone and sees a different person. Perhaps he is the strong silent type who just needs encouragement, which K. is very good at providing. Since Nancy Drew is her heroine, K. decides to investigate. This is more difficult than she imagined. J. seems overwhelmed by K. (many people feel the same way about her). She has never been the shy, subtle type. After many machinations (this is high school), J. asks K. out.This turns out so well that they start going steady for the next two years. Remember your own hormones in high school?
They go to different colleges, graduate, and marry. They both have teaching degrees; J. in art and K. in English. They secure teaching jobs in another small town. Reality sets in. J. is very methodical and practical about life. K. is not. She is spontaneous and travels by the seat of her pants. His goal is to be successful. Her goal is to have fun. He is a saver while she is a spender. Fights over the checkbook and social schedule begin and build and build. Perhaps they have both made a big mistake. What seemed so charming about the other person is now frustrating and irritating. They both believe in marriage and don’t believe in divorce. Lately the D-word has been angrily mentioned in arguments. K. suggests counseling. J. refuses to share their dirty laundry with a total stranger that they have to pay. What to do?
K. is an avid reader while J. likes books with lots of pictures and little printing. They are both creative and good problem solvers so K. checks out self help books on setting goals, fair fighting and quizzes on compatibility. K. reads the books and highlights the important parts so J. doesn’t have to read the whole book. She checks out an art therapy book and they both draw pictures of what they want out of life. It boils down to love, respect, examining the other person’s point of view and conflict resolution. K. is now a school counselor. She has taught peaceful conflict resolution to fifth and sixth graders so she is confident that adults can learn it. Everybody wants their own way all the time. This is just part of being human. To actually get what you want all the time, it is necessary to go live in a cave and become a hermit. If this does not appeal to you, you need to learn to COMPROMISE. It is not easy and it is is not fun but it works most of the time.
Elementary children learn and practice it. When I started counseling, I was the student counsel advisor. After the first election for officers the losers whined, complained and wanted to vote over and/or beat up people who had cheated. The teachers recounted the votes and the same people won. Then they wanted another recount! PLEASE This was real life. It was time to move on and start dealing with other matters. Some things never change. Some adults don’t ever learn to compromise or solve conflict peacefully. Many fifth and sixth graders did. Perhaps anyone who runs for any office from mayor to president should have to prove to voters that understand these concepts and will practice them while in office.
During This pandemic many people have learned new skills. Maybe they could learn the above. I have been learning new recipes for cooking fish. I don’t like fish if it tastes like fish but since it is good for my body, I have learned how to make really good tartar sauce.