I’m a planner and I married a spontaneous person (after all, opposites attract, right?). I didn’t realize how different we are until our honeymoon. It started with five days at Disney World, followed by a 7-day cruise. We drove from Orlando to the Miami airport, where we turned in our rental car and stood in line for the shuttle that would take us to the cruise ship—which is when an attendant informed us we were one whole day off in our schedule. The cruise wouldn’t depart until the next day.
While my husband reacted with a chuckle, I melted into tears. This wasn’t the plan! We had no car, no hotel, and nowhere to go for 24 hours. (Cue the honeymoon argument!) The problem was that neither of us could understand where the other was coming from. What he thought was a fun opportunity, I saw as a frustrating mistake. Over the years, we both have developed some coping skills that help us meet in the middle. If you and your spouse are opposites, too, try these 4 easy ways to make this roadblock a blessing.
1. Have a sync date.
Choose a day each week to sit down and sync your calendars to make sure you both know what’s happening when. Or if a week seems to overwhelm you (like it does for us during busy seasons), talk about what’s coming up in the next couple of days. Then, a few days later, meet again. This may stretch a spontaneous spouse at first, but he likely will see the benefits quickly and cooperate.
2. Put it out there.
Voicing our needs is the #1 thing that helps us. Think about what you need or want right now—your “wish list” of plans, whether that is staying home and vegging out on the couch or going on a two-day, overnight adventure as a family. Tell each other what you’re craving because neither of you can read minds.
3. Try a little give and take.
For the planner: Resist the urge to over-plan, especially the weekends. Leave a day here and there open on purpose. It’s a win-win—you get to plan an open day and your spouse gets to have an open day. And keep an open mind if he wants to do something seemingly out of the blue. It could be fun. And not only that, but your flexibility is one way to show love to a spontaneous spouse.
For the spontaneous person: Pose your spur-of-the-moment ideas as questions, not as demands. “Would you like to…?” or “I know you planned on going to the grocery store in a little while, but do you think we could do that this evening and go hiking now instead, while it’s light out?” Often, if you give your spouse time and reasons to “work in” your idea, he will warm up to it.
4. Sympathize with your spouse.
Simply acknowledging that a situation stretches the other person can make all the difference in the world.
For the planner: Start by saying something like, “I know we haven’t had a free weekend in a while, but I was wondering if…?”
For the spontaneous person: “I know you don’t like to change plans, but I was thinking, what if we…?”
Why Being Opposites is a Blessing
A marriage between a planner and a spontaneous person isn’t a disadvantage or a mistake. It’s actually a blessing. It teaches both partners to come out of your comfort zones and find a happy medium for the pace of life—not too stringent and not too loosey-goosey. And as an added bonus, when opposites attract, your children get the best of both worlds.
As for our delayed cruise, everything, of course, turned out fine. It was delightful. The attendant at the airport quickly helped us find a nice hotel in Miami and arranged our rides there and back. In the end, it was a great start to learning more about each other and how to make our relationship work.
How are you different from your spouse and how do you make it work?