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Opposite or Complementary?
By Barrington H. Brennen



Question: Dear Sir: Are men are women truly opposite or complementary sexes?

Answer: Dear Reader: Your question is one that has been discussed for centuries. I have written on this subject in different ways for the past three years. It never fails to raise an interest. If we are truly opposite sexes, then we could never love one another, agree, procreate, and perhaps never be truly compatible. The Random House Websterís College Dictionary defines opposite as "contrary or radically different, as in nature, qualities, or significance." It also defines complementary as "either of two parts or things needed to complete the whole; counterpart." For the purpose of this article, I would then define opposite as "the inability to agree or relate in any fashion," and complementary as "born to interact, relate, and empower each other."

Since we have used the term "opposite sex" for so many years, having it ingrained in our minds and daily vocabulary, it seems impossible for us to look objectively at its meaning and how it relates to us. Could it be that we have acted and treated each other as "opposites" for so long that we have actually become opposites--we cannot agree or relate? Thus, we have the battle of the sexes.

If I were truly the opposite of my wife, we could not discuss, much less agree. On the other hand, since we are created with similar brain cells--able to process and assimilate informationó we can discuss and reach similar conclusions. If our brains were totally different--that is if I had a brain like that of a dog, I would not be able to relate intellectually to my spouse. In fact, I would not be able to understand her at all. Only my "dog instinct" would help me respond. I would only be able to bark, whine, and jump in eager expectation. And what would she do to me? She would throw to me a dog bone, walk away feeling superior to me while I nibbled on my whole-soya dog crackers. Thatís being opposites. Could it be that as men and women, we have only been throwing dog crackers at each other?

When we study the creation story, we notice that God created all the animals on a different day he created Adam and Eve. This suggests that humans are not equal to animals. Secondly, God spake and all creations came into being, except Adam and Eve. He personally and physically got involved to create them. Adam and Eve were fully and equally created in the image of God. That is, they were created with similar abilities and were given the same responsibilities. God came and spoke to them before sin. If they were created as opposites, why didnít God treat them so in the beginning? If they were opposites, God would have given them different instructions and would have had different expectations for each one. In Genesis 1:26-27, we have the first example of Godís idea of male and female being complementary beings. He said "Let us make humankind in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created human-kind in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." Adam and Eve, having equal and complementary intelligence and powers from God, would work harmoniously in their new home. Together they were given the same instructions and empowerment. When Adam first saw Eve, he was pleased and surprised because what he saw was his "other self." All the other animals were opposite to Adam. The animals were unable to communicate with Adam. They could not speak Adamís language neither could they provide his need for love. Eve complemented him. She could talk, respond, share, and love him. Eve was his alter-ego.
One reason why many suggest that men and women are opposites is simply because we have different sex organs. If we examine these organs closely, we will agree that if they did not complement each other we simply could not have sex with each other and produce offspring. Have you every tried to fit a square peg into a round hole? You cannot. Why? Because they are opposites. Have you every heard of man having sex with a cat to produce a son?
It was Godís intentions that male and female live harmoniously on this earth. That their talents, gifts, and strength be joined to produce a mutual power for growth and development. I am suggesting that this harmony can only occur between two complementary beings, not opposites. It is correct, then, to deduce that opposites cannot live in harmony. If a wife and husband are experiencing continual conflicts, fights, ongoing outbursts of anger, belittlements, putdowns, etc., then it might be because they are treating each other as opposites and not as complements. Dear reader, try to think about your spouse as your complement and not your opposite in marriage. I am certain it will revolutionize your marriage.

Barrington H. Brennen, MA, NCP, BCCP, a marriage and family therapist and board certified clinical psychotherapist, USA.  Send your questions or comments to barringtonbrennen@gmail.com  or write to P.O. Box CB-11045, Nassau, The Bahamas, or visit www.soencouragement.org   or call 242-327-1980.  




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April 26, 2000, TAGnet/NetAserve / Network Solutions

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