How is it that “opposites attract” yet “birds of a feather flock together”? Are we supposed to be more different or more the same?
Opposites attract when it comes to different talents, strengths, and even perspectives. These bring more variety to a relationship, and variety is the spice of life. Differences can be a great thing, and they can help us learn from and appreciate each other. That being said, sometimes those opposites can cause conflict in a relationship, especially after some time.
Birds of a Feather
Meanwhile, being birds of a feather doesn’t mean you necessarily have the same opinions or perspectives, but it does mean you’re similar in many ways—especially at an emotional and social level.
Think about how people’s level of humor correlates to their maturity. Back in grade school, the first graders would joke a bit differently from the second graders, who joked a little differently from the third graders, etc. And if you looked at how the sixth graders joked, it was very different from the first graders. As kids developed and understood more, their jokes changed and reflected their new awareness of life.
Similarly, imagine maturity levels on a scale of one through ten. The maturity is the different ways you see the world and how well you’re able to take responsibility. If you’re at a level 5, you’re probably most attracted to and compatible with someone who has a similar level of maturity. Maybe they’re up a level or down a level, but they’re probably not outside of that range. Ideally, we hope both spouses feel like they married up a level. If you both feel like that in the relationship, then you’re equally yoked in a very good way.
This is part of the reason it’s often not a good idea for only one spouse to do marriage therapy: if one spouse is invested and grows too much without the other, it may feel unbalanced. Granted, it’s not always a bad idea; there are things you can do to manage it. But it can make it harder. So the hope is that you can grow together!
If someone grows up a few levels of maturity and their spouse does not, the couple will feel less compatible. They’ll have a hard time appreciating what each other is doing. Sometimes, one spouse’s growth may even revert the growth of the other; either the spouse doesn’t feel the need to be as responsible (often subconsciously) or they might feel discouraged. If you want to improve your relationship, you must invite your partner to grow with you, going back and forth to inch your way up the maturity scale.
Now, if you did go up multiple levels and you want your spouse to meet you there, that’s fine! But you must remain committed and patient for your partner to grow at their pace. With that commitment, you can help nurture and invite them.
If your partner chooses to abandon their values that they originally brought—and there are times that they choose to go down the maturity scale like that—then there are points when it may be time to consider separation.
The point here is to help each other grow. Wherever you’re at on the scale, encourage each other and enjoy it together. Appreciate and learn from each other to help balance the scale. One of the most beautiful things in a relationship is the ability to help each other be your best.
Here’s a beautifully written song that supports this principle. It’s “Grow As We Go” by Ben Platt. Enjoy!
Rodney Limb has always enjoyed listening to people and helping them work out problems and struggles. As a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC), Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and a Nationally Licensed Hypnotherapist for over 20 years, he has helped hundreds of couples create a happy and thriving marriage out of disaster. He also provides counseling for anxiety, depression, stress, PTSD, and overcoming various behavioral addictions.
A Deeper Look into Spiritual Truths
“Imagine how our world would be if we stopped seeing differences as obstacles to relationships but rather saw them as the healthy tension that can promote character, deepen intimacy, and kindle friendship.” — Brent D. Slife
“Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” — Proverbs 27:17 ESV