When my husband, Pete, and I were first dating, we laughed when we discovered each other's favorite Winnie the Pooh characters. Mine is Eeyore: the sweet, sensitive donkey, quietly munching on thistles and bemoaning the loss of his tail—again. Pete's is Tigger: the scene-stealing, eternally bouncy, silly orange tiger.
Clearly we'd chosen each other wisely.
As with all analogies, this one's not precise. Pete doesn't mope around saying, "Woe is me." He's just the guy in the corner, keeping his thoughts to himself, watching the world with his big, soulful eyes.
And I don't bounce into every room singing (unless I've had an extra cup of coffee). But I am goofy, and I feel things deeply, and I let the world know about them. Rather loudly.
I adore Pete's Eeyore-ness. It settles my heart, much like a warm cup of cocoa at the end of a cold, windy day. And apparently he's fond of my Tiggerish traits. Either that, or I heard him wrong when I thought he proposed, and he was too polite to correct me. I wouldn't put it past him.
But here's the tricky part: when we were dating, and through the first few years of our marriage, I relished his quietness, his ability to let things slide without pitching a fit, his careful decision-making. So why do I now complain about his "silence," his "lack of assertiveness," and his "foot-dragging"?
It seems to me that every trait has a flip side. Just as a nickel has Thomas Jefferson's profile on one side and Monticello on the other, Pete's gentleness is inseparable from his hesitation to make waves. I can't have one without the other any more than I can take Jefferson's face and leave Monticello behind.1