Today I want to talk about “irreconcilable differences” as it pertains to romantic conflict. The first time I heard this phrase was, I believe, in reference to a celebrity divorce in California. I remember thinking, “But what does that mean? Nothing happened?” and being flabbergasted by the whole concept. (Mind you, I was undoubtedly young at the time I first heard this phrase.)
As an adult, though, I’m beginning to see how supposedly small things can become greater than the classic “big” things like, say, cheating.
What if a slob and a neatnik fall in lurve? Match made in heaven, because he’ll be right there to pick up after her everywhere she goes? Doubt it. As soon as the newness wears off, I bet the resentment sets in.
What if a recipe-collector and a frozen-pizza-burner fall in lurve? Fabulous because she can cook dinner every night and he’ll be grateful he’s no longer gnawing burnt frozen pizza? Maybe at first.
What about a party animal and a homebody? Are they good for each other? He’ll help her discover her domestic side, and she’ll help him connect to all the other humans roaming the planet? Or a recipe for daily arguments over whether TV reruns or happy hour is the better use of their time?
Compromise is key. Sure. We’ve all heard that. But some things aren’t compromiseable because they’re just part of our makeup. The homebody isn’t wrong to be a homebody any more than the bubbly extrovert is wrong to be a bubbly extrovert. Why should either of them give up what they love being to become something they hate, just to “get along”? Then neither of them are happy, right?
My theory is this all goes back to what your mama told you as a kid: Be yourself. Much easier to get along with someone who views, interprets, and interacts with the world in the same manner you do.
Of course, if you’re writing romance, it’s never that easy…
YOUR TURN: What say you? Is there such a thing as irreconcilable differences? Is it a legitimate conflict? Is it an overcomable conflict? Can you believe in Happy Ever After for a couple whose world-views are fundamentally opposed? Why or why not?