Marriage Showdown: Safety Gal vs. Risk Man

By Maggie Reimherr

Derek’s nickname for me has been “Punkin” since the beginning of our relationship. Sometimes, “Punkin” evolves into “Safety Punkin.”

When it comes to safety, I'm not a big risk-taker. On our third date, Derek took me to climb a water tower. I got halfway up before I noticed that the ladder I was climbing leaned slightly backward toward the ground. I looked down and back up at Derek and said, “No sir, I will not climb any further. Get me on solid ground, please and thank you.”

Living in Massachusetts, this particular season poses some safety risks I’m not exactly comfortable with:

  1. Will I slip and fall face-first on a patch of ice on the sidewalk, knocking out all my teeth and permanently marring my face in the process? Or will I slip and fall backwards causing a severe brain injury?

  2. If I go ice skating, will a person nearby have an epic fall, with their legs flying up in the air? Will I get too close, will their skates slice me across the jugular, and will I bleed out on the ice? Or, alternatively, we’ve all seen It’s a Wonderful Life - will I accidentally skate on thin ice and fall into the freezing river? (I don't actually know of any rivers to skate on.)

  3. Snow makes the stairs at the subway stations wet. Will I slip and fall on the stairs in front of a large crowd of people, causing physical and emotional harm?

  4. Driving. Black ice. Treacherous roads. Enough said.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Derek. He regularly does things that terrify me, such as propelling himself across icy parking lots on the back of a grocery cart, driving aggressively on I-93 in adverse weather conditions, and fearlessly braving sidewalks and subway stairs.

Opposites attract, right?

My winter fears remind me that it’s a good thing I married a man who, in terms of core personality traits, is nothing like me. Sure, we have the same sense of humor and like a lot of the same things. But on the Myers-Briggs personality scale, we are opposite in every way (ISFJ for me/ENTP for him if you’re into that sort of thing).

In our marriage, it’s proven to be a good thing that we’re so different. When I’m being particularly risk-averse, Derek pulls me out of it and encourages me to do the things that scare me, which could be anything from ice skating to having a tough conversation at work. When Derek is too fearless, I reign him in with suggestions like, “Maybe if you want to have that conversation, you should word it in a gentler way.” or “Hey, slow down there, mister! You’re not a race car driver!”

Besides risk-taking, we’re opposite in a lot of other ways too. He’s a saver; I’m a spender. He balances me out by pinching pennies where it counts. I balance him out by making sure we’re not missing out on great experiences just because they cost money. I recently won this battle by convincing him that we need to go to New York during the holidays this year. See you on December 28, you beautiful city.

He’s an extrovert; I’m an introvert. When I retreat into my introvert world of spending an entire Saturday reading and watching Netflix, he pulls me out of it by making evening plans for us so I’m not a total anti-social bum.

I’m so glad I didn’t marry someone who’s just like me, because I love being challenged by Derek’s different personality. As we venture through this first year of marriage and of balancing each other out, we find ourselves becoming more alike in the best ways.  

Now we want to hear from you - are you and your spouse alike or different? How do you feel that works in favor of your marriage? Let us know in the comments here or on social!