Looking at Relationships: Styles and Stereotypes
My wife Kim and I will celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary at the end of this month. The great thing about being married to this woman is recognizing that I love her more now than seven years ago when we met. How does this happen, especially as we age, gain weight, lose hair, and become more bluntly outspoken? A lot of it comes from the recognition that we have more in common than we initially realized. I think it also has to do with understanding our personalities better and making allowances for the differences.
I thought about this when I read a recent Wall Street Journal article on introverts living with extraverts.
As you’ll learn from reading the article, extraverts enjoy going out, talking, and being with people. Introverts are more private people, think before they talk, and find more pleasure from being alone than being with lots of people. Fortunately for us, we both like people, like going out, and even like entertaining people at our home.
One myth the article debunks is the one that says “Opposites attract.” While romantic partners may find initial pleasure in the other’s traits which they lack, over the long term, it will be the similarities which keep a couple communicating and functioning more harmoniously together. The article shows that it’s possible for an introvert to live with an extravert, but it takes extra work at understanding the other’s needs and style and then communicating.
Introducing Leroy and Loretta Lockhorn
In the United States, a popular comic strip, The Lockhorns is about a middle-aged married couple named Loretta and Leroy Lockhorn. The Lockhorns spend a lot of time arguing, which we expect because in English, the expression “to lock horns” means to fight, to argue, to disagree.
For my non-native readers, I should note that there are two different pronunciations involved with this double entendre. Verb phrases are stressed on the last part, the noun (to lock horns) while noun compounds are stressed on the first noun (Mr. Lock -horn).
I didn’t used to like this cartoon because it played to people’s stereotypes about men and women. Specifically, it focused on drinking too much (Leroy), shopping too much (Loretta),
being lazy (Leroy), driving poorly (Loretta), flirting with younger women (Leroy), cooking poorly (Loretta), irritating others (e.g., his mother-in-law, people at party) (Leroy), talking too much (Loretta), being overweight (Leroy), and arguing/going to marriage counselor (both).
Today, I have a different attitude about the Lockhorns. I realize that all of us have some bad traits that we aren’t proud of. Whether these traits typify our gender or are idiosyncratic, they have the potential to make us laugh or make us cry. Because I prefer laughing—including at myself, I now embrace the quirkiness of Leroy and Loretta and am able to chuckle over their bickering, realizing that a hint of their problems exists in my household—and maybe in yours too. I hope you enjoy reading about them at the link above.