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Slices of Life... The yin and yang of happily ever after

According to classical Chinese thought, the concept of yin and yang describes two opposing, and at the same time complementary, aspects of one phenomenon.

According to classical Chinese thought, the concept of yin and yang describes two opposing, and at the same time complementary, aspects of one phenomenon.

Some say that a good marriage is like yin and yang - two halves of the whole that work perfectly together to balance each other out. When it comes to my husband and me, this is sort of true - except for the working perfectly together part.

For instance, he got the geography gene; I have the getting lost one. He is logical and methodical; I am intuitive and haphazard. He remembers addresses and phone numbers; I remember song lyrics from the 1980s. He can build and put things together; I can paint.

A yin and yang system, when working properly, can greatly assist with home improvement projects. Everyone knows and understands their important and crucial role in the success of the outcome, even if it requires yinning when you'd rather be yanging.

This happened to my husband recently when we decided to paint the kitchen. While painting is normally out of his realm, he'd agreed, in the name of yin and yang (in other words, marital harmony), to assist me.

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As far as the actual work went, we'd split it down the middle. I would paint the four walls; my husband would apply a fresh coat to the two radiators. OK, maybe that doesn't sound "down the middle," but radiators are complicated.

Besides, the concept of yin and yang involves finding your own balance, however unbalanced that may be. Anyone who's been married for a few years knows that balanced doesn't always mean balanced, per se.

I wasn't sure when the work would get done. It was a "one of these days" kind of project. Last Saturday, my husband jumped out of bed and announced that today was the day.

"I think I'll paint the radiators today," he said with a zest that I hadn't seen since he caught his trophy walleye in 1997.

It sort of took me off guard. I thought I'd have to drag him into the project kicking and screaming. Here he was volunteering - of his own accord! I was so proud of his yin yang spirit.

I mentally rearranged my day's itinerary, reached for my painting clothes and got ready to go to town.

So did my husband - get ready to go to town, that is. He needed a special kind of paintbrush for the radiators and other miscellaneous supplies.

"You get started on the first wall, and I'll be back before you know it," he promised.

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I was making good headway when he returned about 45 minutes later.

"Did you get me my edger?" I asked.

"Shoot!" he said, sounding genuinely disappointed. "I'll have to go back."

I turned the corner - quite literally - and started on the second wall.

When my husband returned half an hour later, the kids were stirring. One of them needed to go to the store to purchase supplies for a project.

"I can take him," my husband offered amicably.

They were off, and I went to work with my new edger.

An hour later they returned - with project supplies, a DVD and multiple items for our fish tank.

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"Look at this great coral we got," my husband enthused. "We're going to set up the tank real quick. I'll be done in a jiffy."

He and the kids spent the next hour fooling with the fish. There was a lot to set up. It wasn't too long before I heard their laughter from the next room. I peeked over from the kitchen to see him and the kids on the couch in front of the TV. Apparently the DVD they'd bought was a comedy. Before I knew it, it was lunchtime.

"It's too late to start painting now," he mused over frozen pizza. "I think I'll get going tomorrow."

I smiled at him from across the table. He seemed convinced, in his own balanced and harmonic sort of way.

The next morning he awoke bright and fresh with renewed spirit - for a new project. I think I'll get started building a storage shed for the backyard," he said. "Maybe you can help me pound some nails."

"Sure," I said, thinking about how much I hate hammers. "Right after I finish painting the radiators."

He looked up, smiling, and I returned his grin.

We both knew that I'd never touch a hammer, just like he'd never get to the radiators. But in our own yin yang world, somehow that was OK.

Jill Pertler is a syndicated columnist and freelance writer working with graphic designer Nikki Willgohs to provide writing and design and other marketing services to businesses and individuals. You can check out their Web site at http://marketing-by-design.home.mchsi.com/ or e-mail Jill at pertmn@qwest.net .

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