God made my wife, Erin, and me with very different personalities and preferences. She loves coffee; I prefer iced tea. She spends; I save. She likes to shop in the mall with friends; I like to fish alone in the wilderness. Our personalities are about as different as two people’s can be.
And, honestly, I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Just as a variety of flavors can spice up a dish, differences put spice in our marriage. If we were too similar, our marriage would feel like plain oatmeal. But while differences bring flavor to a marriage, they also create inevitable challenges. So how can a husband and wife use their differences to strengthen their marriage?
God has placed within each human the longing to be deeply known. Early in our marriage, there were a lot of things Erin and I needed to learn about each other. I’m an introvert, and I need time alone to recharge. I asked Erin — an intense extrovert — if we could have at least one night a week when no one would come to our apartment. “You mean you don’t like to have people over every night?” she asked in wonder. Erin genuinely had no idea that, unlike her, I didn’t want to spend every moment relating to people. Learning about those differences helped us develop deeper intimacy.
God says that you and your spouse are made in His image (Genesis 1:27). You’re both “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). Even when my personality frustrates Erin, she is able to appreciate God’s handiwork in me. Which of your spouse’s personality traits are your favorites? Can you find value even in the traits that sometimes frustrate you?
See my strengths
Focusing on your spouse’s strengths is an amazing gift to him or her. As an extrovert, Erin gets energy from people. This is a strength for our marriage because she creates community. Any time we want to celebrate or to enjoy fellowship with other believers, Erin is our go-to. I’ve learned to value that strength, and we’re closer as a result.
Dr. Greg Smalley is the vice president of Marriage and Family Formation at Focus on the Family.