Today I’m starting what I hope to be a weekly feature on my blog: Marriage Monday.  Mark and I speak and write together about marriage.  Each Monday we’ll share about a common marriage struggle and how we’ve learned to handle it.  You just might want to share these Monday posts with your spouse!

Jill says: 

“He’s not wrong, he’s just different.  He’s not wrong, he’s just different.” I repeated that phrase over and over through clenched teeth as I tried to keep perspective in one more clash with my wrong unique, very-different-from-me husband.

Honestly Mark and I are complete opposites. 

He likes coffee; I like tea.
He likes mornings; I’m a night owl.
He prefers spicy food; Mild for me.
He is an extrovert; I’m an introvert.
He’s an external processor; I’m an internal processor.

When we were dating, those differences drew us to one another.  For the past 27 years, they’ve been driving us crazy.

But God didn’t make a mistake when He brought us together on a blind date right after I graduated from high school.  I’ve come to learn that those differences are designed to do two things:

1) They complete us.
2) They refine us.

Our differences are complementary.  While Mark has no trouble getting up with the kids in the morning, I don’t do mornings so well. And when Mark wears out early in the evening, I’m fine staying up for our teenagers to be home by a midnight curfew.  His desire to talk through issues draws me out.  My desire to think deeply about decisions prompts Mark to think more thoroughly at times.

Our differences refine me.  Author Gary Thomas asks the question, “What if God gave us marriage, not to make us happy, but to make us more holy?”  I’ve come to realize that dealing with our differences sometimes brings out a not-so-pretty side of me.  In those unlovely moments, I can choose to rationalize my behavior or I can own my behavior: tell God–and Mark–I’m sorry.  When I’m able to do that, I find myself closer to both God and my husband.

Mark says:

When Jill and I first met, I loved how different she was from me.  Places I was weak she was strong.  And places that she had little experience, I excelled.  We were the perfect team…until we said, “I do,” and started living day in and day out together.

I must admit, I honestly thought our differences would eventually disappear with enough years of marriage.  The Bible talks about “oneness” and that’s what I thought “oneness” meant.  We would eventually think the same and decisions would be made together very easily.  Because I was not defining “oneness” correctly, when our differences have felt so challenging I have wrongly believed them to be a liability to our relationship. “This is just too hard,” I’ve muttered under my breath too many times.  My wrong expectations of how I thought marriage should be was keeping my heart discontent much of the time.

Jill and I have always believed in the value of counseling.  We’ve sought out marriage counseling in our toughest seasons and personal counseling when we feel the need to strengthen our own emotional health.  Between counseling and allowing God to refine me, I’ve come to a new understanding of what “oneness” really is. “Oneness” happens when we accept and embrace our differences and are committed to working together for the common good of the family.

This new definition has brought about a new calm in my heart.  My expectations have drastically changed. I’m not looking for decisions to always be easy anymore.  We still have to work hard to blend our perspectives at times.  I now realize that we will always be different. I have laid down the divisiveness.  I’ve stopped trying to change Jill (well, at least most of the time!)

I’m still working on embracing those differences, but my guess is that will be a lifetime journey!

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What about you?  What have you learned about being wonderfully incompatible in your marriage?

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