Recently my husband, Jon, and I were outside with our little son drawing with sidewalk chalk. I was drawing lots of colorful pictures with my artsy flare. As I was finishing the layers of shading in my sunset, it occurred to me that I had never actually seen my husband draw anything. I looked over to observe his creations … he was writing math equations. Math. Using the same color over and over.
I then realized just how different we are, because it would never in a million years occur to me to draw math with sidewalk chalk for fun on a sunny day.
We are extremely different.
Jon is analytical, and I am creative.
My man likes to take his time. I like to hurry up.
He’s a laid-back breeze. I’m a hurricane.
I see the big forest; he sees the bark on the trees.
These differences sometimes make us laugh. But sometimes they’ve made us snap at each other. He wishes I would slow down and do things right — be a little more analytical. I wish he would speed up and finish so we can move onto the next thing — see the big picture.
Isn’t it funny how opposites attract? But then after marriage, those differences can quickly shift from adorable to slightly aggravating. Suddenly you find yourself trying to make your spouse become more like you. You wish they’d do things the way you do, at your pace, with your perspective.
But God said marriage is about two people joining together to become something new — not two people coming together to make each person like the other. We shouldn’t try to erase or silence our spouse’s unique perspective, because God created it. A diverse approach to doing things is important to your marriage, otherwise the synergy — and the beauty — wouldn’t exist. Your individual differences should make your marriage stronger.
Not sure how to start finding strength in your differences? Here are a few ways to start:
Respect each other’s opinion
Even if you think your spouse is wrong, you should still give them the benefit of the doubt and listen to them. Don’t immediately dismiss what they think just because it doesn’t align with your personal opinion. Consider where they’re coming from. Respect them as the person you fell in love with. Esteem them as God’s son or daughter, created with a unique perspective. Your spouse usually has a valid reason for thinking the way they do — it’s not just to push your buttons.
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Recognize that your way is not always the best way
Sometimes the way you’ve always done something — though it may work — is not the best way. Sometimes your spouse has a better approach and you can find strength in that. It’s important to be willing to give up “being right” to do what’s best.
For example, when Jon and I were dating, he helped me move into a new town house. After a long day of unpacking, I was still hustling through boxes. I probably could’ve stayed up until 2:00 a.m. unpacking and putting things away. My method of moving was to work until I collapsed. It was around 8:00 p.m. when Jon said, “Hey, before I head home, do you want to just sit down and watch a movie?”
I thought to myself, “Seriously? There are still 100 boxes to unpack! I can’t sit down.” But then he reminded me that the boxes weren’t going anywhere and that taking care of myself was important, too.
So, I sat down and watched a movie. It felt amazing.
My hurricane way of powering through until everything is done isn’t always best. Jon’s laid-back personality helped me realize that it’s OK to slow down, relax and take breaks.
On the flip side, Jon occasionally needs my strengths, too. When we bought our first house, he wanted to slowly make all the updates so everything would be done perfectly. I wanted to grab a paint roller and go. I suggested we tackle one room at a time and just start. He agreed, and we renovated the whole house much faster than he thought we could. I reminded him that everything didn’t have to be done perfectly — that sometimes good and done is good enough.
Remember the purpose of marriage
You don’t get married to make your spouse a better organizer, driver, cook or budget-keeper. Marriage is meant to represent how Christ loves the church. It’s meant to help each of you love like Jesus does. If your spouse does something differently than you, remember that the most important thing is how you love them through it.
If you find yourself married to your opposite, don’t become frustrated. Rejoice! You now have access to a whole new set of skills and strengths that can make life a whole lot more well-rounded. Your marriage can thrive and find strength in your differences if you work at it.