Better Together

Better Together - Kirsten and Benjamin Watson
Images of Grace Photography
Working through our differences makes our marriage stronger

In our marriage, my husband, Benjamin, is the finance guy. For him, things are black and white. He knows what we’re doing and how we’re going to get there—and it’s always directly from point A to point B.

I tend to think outside the box. I bring nuance to our decisions, and I start at the same point A, but I might take a pit stop or two before eventually arriving at point B.

While Benjamin asks, “Why are we doing this?” I say, “Why not give it a try?” That’s how we’ve related to each other since our college days when we began dating. It was our joke when we introduced ourselves, and it even led to our nicknames for each other: he’s Why? and I’m Why Not? It’s how our relationship still plays out, 16 years later.

Even though we have distinct personalities and different perspectives, we have the same goals. We not only recognize these differences in each other, but we also believe they bring balance in our marriage. We’ve even learned to maximize those variances for the betterment of our relationship.

When we’re united in our vision, we’re an unstoppable team.

What we bring to marriage

Benjamin is an amazing leader. He’s good at weighing the options, making decisions and knowing why we’re doing what we’re doing. He doesn’t act on a whim—he’s methodical and thoughtful and good at considering different scenarios.

Our gifts make us better together.

I push Benjamin to think outside the box, and he reels me in when I go too far. I also help balance us out as a couple. I’m the one who says, “It doesn’t have to be done the way it’s always been done.” I’m not impulsive, but I do push us to move beyond our comfort zone and take some risks. When both of our gifts work in tandem, we end up taking more chances, but in a thoughtful way.

I’m very verbal, especially in my relationship with Benjamin. This has a good side, because I’m tenacious about making sure we talk through important issues, both as a couple and with our children. But sometimes Benjamin’s quiet way of simply being present is exactly what I need.

His quiet steadiness was exactly what I needed when delivering our fifth child. I don’t remember much about that delivery, but I distinctly remember Benjamin breathing with me. Instead of telling me to breathe, he inhaled and deeply exhaled with me. Over and over again.

My brain was overloaded, so my rational functioning wasn’t really working. I simply followed his example, inhaling and exhaling, and that’s how I delivered our baby girl.

Our gifts can cause friction, too.

Don’t get me wrong—just because we balance each other doesn’t mean it’s all peaches and cream. Sometimes our differences drive us crazy. There are moments when I want to say, “Would you get on my side for a second?!” We’re firstborns, so we’re both used to being right. It’s been a process of learning and growing together over the past decade and a half.

“He’s so lucky to have me”

During the first few years of our marriage, I made it my goal to change Benjamin. I assumed the Lord put us together so I could transform my husband into the man God wanted him to be, and I thought he was so lucky to have me. (I say this mostly in jest, but a part of me really believed it.)

Back then, Benjamin was in the NFL and would make appearances around the city where people stood in line to get their picture taken with him or get an autograph. One night I was sitting off to the side at an event, irritated about some recent tiff, when an unfamiliar woman came up to me.

“You’re so lucky to be married to Ben!” she said. “He’s so nice!”

I put on my best fake smile and replied, “He is nice.”

Not always nice

Since Benjamin and I weren’t exactly on speaking terms at the moment, nice wasn’t the word I would have used to describe my husband. He was stubborn and disciplined and smart and so many things I didn’t yet have the words to express. Yes, he was nice, but he sure could upset me.

I loved Benjamin and wanted to be a good wife to him, but I was mostly determined to prove my worth. My focus was on me and what I could accomplish. This often resulted in butting heads with my new husband—someone who was busy working out his own stuff.

Changing me

Then I started talking to women who were further along in marriage. They told me, “Girl, you’d better get on your knees and see how you need to change.” That’s when I started asking God, “What kind of wife do You want me to be?” and that’s when the Lord began working wonders in our marriage.

The more I worked on myself instead of worrying about what my husband needed to do, the more the Holy Spirit was at work. What I’ve come to realize is that God is much better at changing other people than we are.

That’s because He changed me.

Support during changing seasons

Ever since Benjamin and I started doing our “Why or Why Not” podcast, we’ve learned to work together in new ways. In the past, we supported each other, but we had our own lanes. He played pro football, and I’m never going to do that. I was at home with the kids and busy with home schooling. With seven kids in a span of 10 years—including twins—it’s important for us to be in sync with each other. We were on the same path, but we had different roles.

Our differences make us better together

With our podcast, for example, we’re both heavily involved, but there are big differences in the way we prepare. I’ll create a general outline, with questions and spaces for our answers, then print it out for each of us. When we go to record, my paper looks the same. I tend to say what I feel in the moment—I have no idea what’s going to come out of my mouth. But Benjamin’s page is full of research, Scripture verses and articles to support his points. Despite our differences, there’s a level of trust, knowing we have each other’s back. Even if we disagree, we respect each other.

Changing support

With the recent release of my book, it’s been fun to experience somewhat of a role reversal in our relationship. Benjamin has always been there for me, but now that he’s retired from playing, his support is evident in more tangible ways. Our kids and I were there for every game he played, cheering him on, praying for him and hugging him afterward, win or lose. Now that I’ve been the one in the spotlight, I’ve seen Benjamin take on the role of encourager. He assured me I had something to say, created time and space for me to write, celebrated with me when the book launched, and even rented a billboard to let people know about it! Along the way, he taught the kids to cheer me on and pray for strength to keep going.

Grounded in God’s Word

While our personalities and temperaments differ, Benjamin and I are united when it comes to the values we rely on to strengthen our family. We believe the Bible is the Word of God and that it gives us the wisdom and hope we need to carry on.

Before we were dating, Benjamin shared at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting that marriage is like a triangle: God is at the top, and the husband and wife are the other ends. The only way to get closer to each other is for each person to enhance their relationship with God. That reminder continues to fuel us, especially when life gets challenging.

My prayers

Over the years, I’ve learned to pray Scripture over my entire family. If one of our children is feeling anxious, I’ll paraphrase Psalm 46:1-3: “God, You are Grace’s refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Remind her of Your presence and cast out her fear.” One evening our daughter came home crying from soccer tryouts. Another girl at practice had told her that she couldn’t see my daughter’s sweat because she’s black. After more tears and a long conversation with my daughter and the rest of our kiddos, Benjamin and I prayed for that other little girl. Turns out they were placed on the same team, and by the end of the season they became friends.

Relying on God makes us better together

Benjamin and I are both strong-willed, capable people. But we’ve come to realize that when we rely on our own strength—whether we’re making parenting decisions, moving to a new home, or making career choices—that’s when things get difficult. It’s only when we rely on God and spend time in His Word that we stay connected.

I’m convinced that Benjamin and I are better together—a powerful force when we’re on the same page. And while there remain some things that we’re able to do on our own, it’s much more fun when we’re on the same team.

Dynamic CTA Template Below


About the Author

Read More About:

You May Also Like

Smiling couple chooses joy in they marriage
Dealing with Differences

Choose Joy Over Happiness

When troubles come, joy is often exposed as undependable happiness. Kay and Rick Warren learned that happiness wasn’t enough — they needed joy — true joy that can only come from God.

Close-up of faces of happy husband and wife standing back to back and looking over their shoulders at each other.
Dealing with Differences

Dealing With Your Differences: Decide, Don’t Slide

Learning constructive ways to handle your differences is one of the most important things you can do to protect your marriage. You can decide to take control of your issues.

Communication Styles

Dealing With Your Differences: Do Your Part

We will all blow it sometimes. But if you really strive to limit your reckless words, you will create a climate that fosters openness and closeness in your marriage.