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The surprises (and delights) of a complementary relationship

This happened about six years ago. It's embarrassing as heck, but what can you do?

Our RV, a nice little 22 foot Winnebago that we call Tanner, needed an emissions check. I drive the RV by the way, because JoAnn isn't comfortable with it.

We took Tanner over to a nearby garage and sat in the waiting room with a bunch of other people who were also waiting to get their vehicles checked out. Eventually the service guy came to us and said it had passed the test and was good to go.

JoAnn waited inside a few minutes while I went outside to start the engine and get Tanner turned around so that we could leave. There wasn't a lot of space to maneuver and I had to really focus on what I was doing.

The trouble is that after finally getting Tanner turned around – without hitting anything -- I just kept on going. That is to say, I proceeded out of the exit and drove home.

As I opened the front door of our house I heard the phone ringing. "Who could that be?" I asked myself. And then, in the same breath, "And why isn't JoAnn home?"

This all happened very quickly, you must understand. The penny was beginning to drop, but hadn't gotten all the way to the ground yet.

“Did you forget something?”

I picked up the phone. "Did you forget something?" a familiar voice asked.

Oh dear oh dear oh dear. "Embarrassed" hardly describes how I felt as I whipped back to the garage at a very hasty clip.

Good job that JoAnn is such a good sport is all I can say. Good job we were able to have a good laugh as we drove home together.

I suppose it's only fair that JoAnn got quite a bit of mileage out of this story when she shared it with her local quilting group a week or two later. They all roared. Apparently quilting groups like telling husband stories and this one brought the house down.

Reminds me of a joke I heard a long time ago when I was still living in England. A vicar is traveling somewhere by train. When the conductor comes along and asks for his ticket, the vicar starts searching his pockets. After awhile, he gets a bit flustered.

"It's all right sir," the conductor says kindly. "I know who you are."

The vicar looks up indignantly. "My dear man, that's not the point. I need the ticket to remind me where I'm going."

Key to a happy marriage?

I always share my posts with JoAnn before I send them out. As she sat down to read this article she had a good laugh and then she said: "What turned that into a funny experience rather than a disaster or fight was because we understand each other.

"The other people in the garage were quite worried for me when they saw you driving off without me, and if I wanted to, I could have been really mad when I called you.

"But I think we've learned to be thankful for each other's strong points while at the same time we understand and accept each other's idiosyncrasies."

Is this a key to a happy marriage? I think it is.

The magic of complementation

I'm a poet and dreamer. Imagination is where I live -- though I'm happy to say I've become more connected to earth since I met JoAnn. One of the blessings of complementation, I suppose you could say.

As you may suspect, I'm definitely capable of being a bit absent-minded at times.

JoAnn, on the other hand, is very focused -- very practical, and down to earth. Imagination isn't really her thing. Ask her to read a poem, for example, and her eyes immediately begin to glaze over.

If you were to ask me what has held us together despite these differences since we first met 15 years ago -- I would answer this:

We both love inner peace.

We cherish truth more than anything else in the world -- and this gives us a basis for agreement.

Somewhere to turn when we are in trouble

It doesn't mean we don't run into difficulties, of course. It doesn't mean we don't get into arguments and fights once in a while.

But we have somewhere to turn when we get into trouble together -- which so far has never let us down.

As JoAnn said, we have been learning to understand each other better, and appreciate our differences. And while that is all very uncomfortable at times, it is also quite magical and wonderful.

If I'm having trouble trying to make my office look a bit nicer -- or if I'm getting nowhere trying to open a difficult package -- it's a pleasure to know I have a partner who can bring a little more practical expertise into the situation.

Growing toward light and happiness

It takes a heap of patience and integrity to learn how to love and appreciate another person without sacrificing our own truth and individuality.

As my mentor said one time: “Perhaps it shouldn't be live and learn. Perhaps it should be learn and live.”

But as far as I'm concerned, it's worth every bit of hardship and discomfort that may come along.

What greater joy could there be than to share in a relationship that is growing toward wholeness – toward light and happiness?

To quote the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke:

"For one human being to love another that is perhaps the most difficult of our tasks; the ultimate, the last test and proof; the work for which all other work is the preparation."

Or as George Eliot put it:

"What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined... to strengthen each other... to be at one with each other in silent unspeakable memories."

Picture credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ferranp/


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Corinne Rodrigues March 29, 2010 at 2:52 am

Lovely, lovely……..


Christopher Foster March 29, 2010 at 9:07 am

Always such a pleasure to hear from you Corinne. Thank you so much for your support and agreement. We’re in the middle of a big move to Denver, downsizing to a townhome, and this move sucks a lot of oxygen out of the room. But I haven’t forgotten your kind invite to write you a guest post and one of these days I’ll get something off to you. JoAnn and I saw a fun movie the other night, ‘The Other End of the Line,’ partly set in Mubai; I was so happy to feel a bit of the essence of India again. Best wishes to you and your loved ones. Chris


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