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When Opposites Attract but Don’t Compromise

After the recent split between Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux, many are curious why the couple who appeared to be perfect for each other weren’t successful in marriage. They had dated seven years prior to marriage and were inseparable, but after one year into their marriage, they decided to end it. What happened? They both report to still care for each other very much and talk to each other daily, but they realize a marriage takes more.

Aniston and Theroux were very different people, and their lifestyles reflected that. They spent a lot of time apart from one another during their dating and married life. Jennifer preferred her home in Los Angeles and being surrounded by her longtime friends. Justin missed his New York lifestyle, mingling with new people, and wanted a more adventurous life. Both were continually growing in their independence and personal lives, but their growth was not toward a vision they shared together. Research supports the fact that opposites do indeed attract, but attracting is much different than being in a healthy relationship.

If you are married to your opposite, these suggestions can help you bring out the best in each other:

  1. Practice appreciation. Remind yourself that it’s your differences that help you stay balanced in life. This is why you may see the “class clown” married to someone stoic and serious. The light-hearted, fun-loving partner helps loosen their spouse up when life gets too intense or demanding. Likewise, the serious partner offers emotional maturity and encourages a healthy work ethic and responsibility in their spouse.

  2. Practice negotiating. When you and your partner are opposite, you have to work harder to get along. That means being able to give and take. It can’t be always be your way or their way. Happy couples who marry their opposite develop more effective negotiating skills which can benefit other areas in your life.

  3. Practice a growth mindset. Couples who marry their opposite are more successful when they use their differences to highlight each other’s strengths. You may be weak in an area where your partner is strong. If you don’t judge each other’s characteristics as superior or inferior, this can lead to great personal growth. It’s your differences that are your greatest strength as a team.

Marriage therapists agree that marrying your opposite will add spice to your marriage, but it can also make marriage more challenging. Couples that make it work unite on shared core values. If you want a relationship to work, it’s going to work best if you agree on what you value and hold closest to your heart…no matter how similar or opposite you are.


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