We have heard it said that “opposites attract!” This is true on occasion,

 but a  more accurate depiction might be that with couples “our common interests bring us together while our differences keep us together”. In other words, the best marriages are often complementary ones. I don’t mean where one partner compliments or praises the other, although that does need to happen regularly in relationships.

Complementarity occurs when two separate people possess characteristics that when combined, make them better than they were on their own. The strengths of one individual improve upon the weaknesses in the other individual and vice versa.

In too many marriages, one partner tries to change the other to be more like them. This message is often received and interpreted as a criticism or an indication of not measuring up.  The other partner, in defense, counters with a list of the faults they see in their spouse as well. As you might imagine, this ends up in a “blame game” with finger pointing and mutual hurt feelings.

If you want to maximize your effectiveness and satisfaction together as a couple, emphasize what you admire and appreciate most about your spouse.

Genuinely acknowledge those qualities they possess that have helped you become a better person yourself. Let him or her know how their strengths have helped shore up your weaknesses and how you have benefited from them. Gossip positively in the presence of others about the difference your spouse has made in your life. Celebrate your differences because “variety truly is the spice of life”


D. Charles Williams, Ph.D.

Licensed Psychologist