Differences in marriage: wedges or building blocks?

9 Jul 2014 Ruth L Snyder

couple feeding birdsMy grandfather used to say, “If you marry the right person, there’s nothing like it; and if you marry the wrong person, there’s nothing like it.”

Here are some other quotes I found on marriage:

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times with the same person.” Mignon McLaughlin

“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” Friedrich Nietzsche

“Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave.” Martin Luther

“Marriage is neither heaven nor hell; it is simply purgatory.” Abraham Lincoln

The quote by Abraham Lincoln makes us smile and chuckle, and perhaps wince. Why is it that some marriages are so happy while other couples seem to hang on for dear life, simply enduring the ride? All couples have differences, all couples struggle at times, and all couples make choices. How we respond to our differences and struggles can literally make or break our relationship.

Here are some of the differences between my husband and I:

  • night owl/early bird
  • spontaneous/planner
  • caramel/chocolate
  • talker/listener
  • realist/dreamer
  • relaxes by snowmobiling or motorbiking/relaxes by reading or going for a walk

We can allow our differences to drive wedges between us or we can choose to celebrate our differences and use our differences as building blocks. If I focus on trying to make my spouse the same as me, things don’t go very well. In fact, the harder I try to make my husband like me, the farther apart we grow. Marriage works better when there’s give and take. We are very different from each other and we need to accept those differences. There’s a reason opposites attract. My husband has strengths and weaknesses and so do I. We need to learn to allow each other’s strengths to offset our weaknesses. When we do this, we are stronger as a team than we are individually.

Michael Hyatt says, “Think about it. If you married someone just like you, then you wouldn’t have to grow, you wouldn’t have to get out of your comfort zone, and you wouldn’t have to enter into someone else’s world.”

Gary and Barbara Rosberg encourage us to ask these questions:

  • Where do I need to show some grace, real grace, to the person I married? Where do I need to let go and let God do His thing with my spouse?
  • Who needs my words of affirmation more than anyone in my life? Is it easier for me to affirm my kids and my friends than it is for me to affirm my spouse?
  • What are we doing to build safety into our marriage so we can take the risks to love unconditionally?
  • When was the last time we took time to go deeper with each other? Are we making time to connect with each other daily?
  • Am I studying my spouse? Do I know his or her strengths as well as his or her weaknesses? Am I helping to build on the former and strengthen the latter so that I can best become one with my mate?

For more helpful tips, check out: Happy to be Stuck with You.

What have you learned about changing differences from wedges into building blocks? Please share 🙂

 

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