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When Opposites Attract

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It happens all the time. Someone who loves nothing more than being around other people enters a relationship with a recluse who loves nothing more than being alone with her thoughts.

A grounded and practical person marries a dreamer. People who believe in discipline and order move in with those who favor spontaneity in all things.

Or, in the fictional, but all-too-true story of Sharon and Phil, an adventurer marries a stay-at-home.

Border Disputes

In this scene from the life of Sharon and Phil, they're arguing about vacation plans. I've included their unspoken thoughts because they constitute part of the dynamic of disagreement.

Sharon: I have a great idea (unlike you, who never have great ideas). Let's go to Mexco for our next vacation. (I'm waiting for you to say no.)

Phil: Mexico? You know I don't like Mexican food, and I don't speak Spanish, and why would I want to go there? Huh? (Why do you have to threaten my security, peace of mind, and self-esteem? I know you think I'm boring. I don't care.)

Sharon: Don't you ever want to do anything different? (Of course, you don't. I'll probably die of boredom in this marriage.)

Phil: Why should I? I like Cape Cod, and I speak the language. (At least I'm funny, right?)

Sharon: Fine, then I'll go without you. (I won't, but I feel like saying it.)

Phil: Good, I'll go without you, too. (Ditto.)

Keywords and Body Talk

People who have well-defined opinions of each other know what to say to initiate or continue a disagreement and keep each other acting according to their expectations. Sharon's "Don't you ever want to do anything different?" doesn't encourage Phil to change his mind. Phil's "Why should I?" reconfirms Sharon's belief that her dreams of adventure were crushed the day she married old stick in the mud Phil.

Adept sparring partners also add flavor to their arguments with nonverbal cues. Sharon leans forward as she speaks, her body stiff with hostility. She may vary this pose by leaning back, slumped with resignation. The tone of her voice may be hostile. Her hands may be balled into fists.

Phil's facial expressions, beginning with wariness, deepening into a threatened look, are bound to antagonize Sharon. He may also sit in his chair as if he's glued to it, no doubt to convey the impression that he isn't going anywhere he doesn't want to go.


Prior to meeting Sharon, Phil was feeling bored with the predictable nature of his life. He thought he needed a little shaking up, a little excitement. When he and Sharon first met, he was attracted to her adventurous spirit.

Meanwhile, Sharon had been feeling more than a little ungrounded. Adventures were fine, but she also wanted some certainty and predictability in her life. Phil's steadiness drew her to him.

In the early stages of a relationship, we often feel a powerful urge to lose our feelings of separation. We want to transform and be one with the beloved.

One aspect of the desire for transformation involves being drawn to the qualities another has that we feel we lack. The dreamer wants to be more grounded; the grounded person wants more dreams. In the first flush of love, we feel that any change we want for ourselves is possible. We can become different people; we can enlarge our sense of self by merging it with that of the other.

In time, though, we may feel that in stretching the borders of separateness, we've lost ourselves. People often panic at this point and retreat and retrench.

Retreat usually occurs in those aspects of our individual lives where we are most attached to habit and fear. The areas where we resist change become the points where we draw our boundaries and build our walls. They are usually also the territory where arguments take place.

When we understand that our arguments with others are really conflicts with aspects of self, we can sometimes stop them before they start.

It Takes Honesty

Sharon's and Phil's disagreement can be replayed in a different key.

Sharon: I have a great idea; let's go to Mexco for our next vacation. (Do I really want to go? I've had such an overwhelming schedule this year. What's the little voice telling me to go on a simple, relaxing vacation?)

Phil: Mexico? You know I don't like Mexican food, and I don't speak Spanish, and why would I want to go there? (Wait a minute. I married Sharon for adventure, but maybe not so much adventure. What if we started out small, like on a trip where we didn't need visas. What about . . .) New Mexico?"

Sharon: New Mexico?

Phil: It's close to Mexico, they have Mexican food, and I've heard there are great holistic spas. Or how about Sedona? We might see UFOs. (That's adventure, all right, but I think I can handle it.)

Sharon: Sedona? I've always wanted to go to Sedona. (Who would have thought Phil would come up with an idea like that? He's more adventurous than I'd imagined.) All right, let's go to Sedona.

Phil: I'll make all the arrangements.

Sharon: You're so good at that.

I readily grant you that this seems to simplify what may be a complex issue. It might take Sharon and Phil (or you and your beloved) several sessions to rerach agreement, but it can be easier if you keep these principles in mind:

  1. You are with this person in part because they have qualities that you feel you lack and would like to have.
  2. At the same time, you are fearful of adopting those qualities because they're unfamiliar and threatening and might turn you into a different person.
  3. Many of your arguments with the other person originate because of that fear. You feel they're trying to make you change too fast.
  4. When change occurs deliberately, step by step, two people can find themselves much closer to each other than they were before.

The Value of Patience

Although love and relationship can be powerful transforming agents, when changes occurs too fast, we experience more loss than gain. If you were building a house, you wouldn't tell the builders to do it as fast as they could, taking shortcuts, maybe doing a slipshod or unsafe job, because you were so eager to live in it. Relationships take time to build, too.

Build your foundation slowly and carefully. Your mortar is a mixture of patience, a slowness to anger, and a willingness to recognize that most of the resistance you experience is against your own impatience.

With such a foundation in place, you will gladly appreciate the contrast you and your beloved provide for each other. With that appreciation, you will build a relationship designed to last for years.

Building Tools


A double-terminated crystal has a point at each end, and has grown, not out of a rock surface, but in clay, which allows it to form two points. It can be used as a tool for balancing energy.

Double-terminated crystals are believed to symbolize the balance of spirit and matter, to teach us that we can be balanced in our expression of both qualities, and that all opposites or seeming conflicts can meet in the center.

They can also be used to balance energies between two people, if those people are willing to sit facing each other with a double-terminated crystal between them and make an honest effort to resolve their differences.

Also called twin crystals, these are two or more crystals joined together (when there are several they are generally called a cluster). The crystals may be of different sizes and shapes; what matters is their connection. Holding a gemini crystal can help you remember that you and your partner are two who have decided to live as one. It doesn't matter if you're different; what matters is the foundation that connects you.


Scleranthus (Bach) is often used for inner conflict. Thus, when a partner embodies one aspect of a conflict a person feels (I would like to be adventurous, but I'm afraid. Therefore, I resist Sharon's adventurous spirit and suggestions), this essence can help to resolve conflict.

It doesn't always happen overnight. Two Bach remedies, Gentian for discouragement, and Impatiens for impatiens, can help. Generally a person tending more to depression will benefit more from Gentian, while those more prone to irritation will be helped by Impatiens.

When anger or resentment are factors, Holly for the first and Willow for the second will be valuable. Both are Bach Flower Remedies.

Because wolves mate for life, I often find that the Wild Earth Animal Essence, Wolf, is helpful in building more firm and committed relationships.

Beyond the Rainbow
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