WHITNEY CAIN, PHD

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Unlikely Pairs

Owen and Mzee, Photographed by Peter Greste

Owen and Mzee, Photographed by Peter Greste

A friend told me she couldn’t believe my husband and I ended up together.  I sort of agree.  Looking back at when we met, it’s a miracle we were in the same room, let alone interested in one another. 

But we were and this interest led to an adventurous courtship.  Those three years seemed like more than enough to me, but Rich suggested we combine our bank accounts.  I told him he was welcome to my $19.36, but I didn’t see the need for the commitments of a joint account.  “That’s not what I’m asking.”  “You aren’t asking anything.  You are trying to take my last $19.36.”  He came to the point: “Are we getting married?”  I answered in kind, “I suppose.” 

At times we do look like an unlikely pair.  Rich plans, plays by the rules, and is thoughtful in his speech and action.  I’m quick to act and rarely have a rulebook handy.  He comes from humble people who expect good in others and appreciate the lot they’re offered. I come from a sarcastic sort with a tendency to be distracted by upgrading.  

But it works. Rich helps me ground my fantasies with his commitment to the present, and I’m less quick to judge and react.  I’m Rich’s off-script cheerleader so he can take a few more uncalculated risks.

This is mostly obvious to us when we are willing to notice.  If we’re stuck in our work, our own stuff or our children’s lives, we forget our complementarity’s balance, focusing instead on its irritations.  This is likely the case in too many relationships – romantic and otherwise.

In a world where fear and grief can overwhelm, and judgment and disconnection are so readily accessible, we have to choose connection again and again.  We have to be willing to recognize the similar and find balance in the difference.  We have to admit others’ flaws are mirrors of own, not justifications for judgment.  It’s challenging, but there are gifts in this choosing – like the gifts of unlikely pairings that make all the sense in the world.

p.s.  Read more about the unlikely pair in the photograph, Owen and Mzee, at their official website:  http://owenandmzee.com/omweb/

Whitney Cain