It’s an all too familiar saying in relationships, and one that can spell trouble years into a marriage. Being 12 years into marriage myself, I can honestly say that we have had our struggles – and our laughs – along the way. Spender vs. saver, intro vs. extrovert, dreamer vs. planner, wanting 5 kids vs. 3 kids (we compromised at 4!), strong willed vs. laid back, spontaneous vs. delayed gratification, surface cleaning vs. deep cleaning, and most obvious and challenging…man vs. woman! These are the first ones to come to mind over the years; I’m sure many more could be listed if it weren’t midnight….oh yeah, that reminds me…procrastinator vs. work ahead!!!
Why do we tend to be attracted to someone who is so different? I believe God has a specific and strategic purpose in all this.
So, this begs the question…what was God up to when he created us? It’s obvious that Adam was in full communion with God prior to the creation of Eve. Was Adam dissatisfied with only having the very God of the universe to hang out with? Surely not. But God knew Adam needed one to come along side, to have companionship with, and one to make him a more complete man. Enter Eve, a creation quite different in thought, bodily structure, and role in life than Adam. With these differences comes completeness for both of them. God didn’t make a mistake in creating woman. God knew Adam needed a helper, a life-giver with whom to share life. God also knew that Eve would look, think, and react in ways Adam did not. These differences likely attracted Adam to her. He had quite the surprise next to him when he woke from his deep sleep! This was all part of God’s plan.
In my counseling experience, there are two ways to respond to the opposites of your spouse:
1. Resent the other person for being so different; second-guess yourself by pondering if you made the right choice in marrying your spouse; spend a lifetime trying to change your spouse to fit your idea of what he/she should be.
2. Accept and embrace your differences as a blessing from God. He always knows what you need, and who you need in your life. Use your spouse’s differences to enhance your thinking, behavior, and overall quality of life. Allow yourself to be ‘sharpened’ by your spouse. Allow your ‘differences’ to become strengths within your marriage.
4-5 years into our marriage, with the same argument repeating itself, we addressed the root cause of our problem – selfishness. Through selfishness I wanted her to change, to be more like me, to stifle her dreams, spontaneity, and creativity. What was resentment at the time turned into an opportunity for growth and understanding for me, and a deeper love and respect for my wife. You see, God knew what he was doing when he gave me the gift of my wife, just as he did with Adam and Eve. It is my job to bring out the BEST in her, just as Christ desires to bring out the best in all of us. When the Bible says to husbands, ‘love your wife as Christ loved the church’, all selfishness is placed aside. Christ genuinely wants the best for us, and we want the same for our spouse.
So, the next time your spouse wants a night on the town and you want a quite night at home, replace that urge to resent with an opportunity to thank God for the blessing of your differences. Use the situation to communicate each other’s needs and find a compromise along the way. You will be more in love each day with that strategy! Besides, how boring and/or chaotic would life be if you were married to a clone of yourself anyway??!!!!