Do you remember the Paula Abdul song “Opposites Attract?” Am I dating myself (as in giving away my age, not turning Japanese–quick–name that hit! Okay… I’m here all week… but you likely won’t be if I keep digressing.). Anyway… Today I’m contemplating the phenomenon that birds of a feather don’t actually flock together; they look for birds with different plumage to marry. I certainly did. And most days that’s a good thing.
I know from my beloved fantasy books that I’m in good company in my choice. In almost every book I can think of, the hero and heroine are virtually polar opposites. Take a few of my all-time favorite couples, including Pia and Dragos, Mac Lane and Barrons, and Raphael and Elena. Each of these pairings include individuals who could not be more different either in species or characteristics.
In Thea Harrison’s Elder Races series, Dragos is an apex predator, a carnivore of the highest order, while Pia is a peace-loving herbivore. Their relationship encounters numerous problems as a result of these and other differences. But because Pia’s most pressing need is safety, and an über alpha male like Dragos offers that, she makes it work. In the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning, Mac Lane is a frothy Southern Belle who’s happy tending bar in her sleepy hometown in Georgia. Jericho Barrons is an ancient immortal being whose alter ego is a mindless beast. I’m not sure they could have less in common. But their love works–as they both evolve to meet each other somewhere in the middle. In the Guild Hunter series, Raphael is an archangel of unimaginable power, whereas Elena is a twenty-something human with an acute sense of smell, qualifying her as a hunter of rogue vampires. Again, hard to see the connection at first, and any yenta would be disqualified for fixing these two up.
I’ve often said my husband and I would never have met if we’d relied on OK Cupid to bring us together. Fortunately for us, we met in the days before Match.Com and Tinder, so we were able to connect the old fashioned way—at a bar. And I’m not sure what would have happened if we’d had too much time to compare notes on our disparate backgrounds, interests or philosophies of life before the chemistry kicked in and we were hooked. Thankfully, by the time we found out he was the Oscar to my Felix, the Spock to my Captain Kirk, the Murtaugh to my Riggs, we were wildly in love and didn’t give a shit.
There’s a reason opposites attract. I have a friend of almost two decades who started as professional colleague. We really enjoyed working together as our styles were almost identical. In fact, we are so similar in personality that we used to joke that we were twins separated at birth. Interestingly, we both married spouses who are very different from us, but very similar to each other. Our spouses balance out our intensity with stability and an even keel nature that helps both of us to come back down to earth if we begin to fly too close to the sun.
Balance is important. Yin and yang, light and dark, privilege and responsibility. Even in fantasy fiction, balance must be maintained and dues paid. As I’ve written about before, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. So when become frustrated with our opposite mates, it’s important to remember that we need to take the bad with the good. For example, my husband’s equanimity in the face of my hyperbole is usually a welcome balm to my overheated emotions. Except when I want a big reaction from him–for a good reason, mind you. It makes me mental when something goes really wrong and his response is… Nothing. Makes me think of the recent movie, Bridge of Spies, when Tom Hanks asks the Soviet spy he’s representing in an espionage trial if he’s worried. The spy asks, “Would it help?” And we know that spy guy is right… but…. Oh. My. God. I thought only Vulcans had so little blood in their veins.
But no, there are, apparently, many humans sporting pointed ears and bad eye makeup. I’m married to one of them. Just this weekend, we had a pretty intense fight (well, intense on my end; while I was awake for hours seething in another bed, my cold-as-ice husband was snoring soundly, sleeping like a baby. Which only fanned the flames of my outrage.) The fight was about the relative merits of high ideals and standards versus letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. Three guesses as to which side of that equation yours truly resides.
Sometimes it’s hard to remember why opposites attract. Particularly when I want my beloved spouse to see things my way, do things my way, and just be more like me. But if I’d wanted that, I probably wouldn’t have married him, and then where would I be? Perhaps in a relationship with my other half, my doppelgänger, spontaneously combusting left, right and center as we clashed in a conflagration for the ages. Intensity met with intensity head-on, with nothing to temper the fires, and everything stoking them. It seems like burnout or scorched earth would be the likely result of that scenario. No, thanks.
So today I will take a page out of my beloved books and tolerate, along with Pia, Mac and Elena, the dark side of the moon until I come back again to the light. I’ll endure the discomfort of my beloved being radically different from me and bask in the many benefits, like my favorite leading ladies of fantasy. Thanks for the support, my fictional friends.