“I never knew how different we are. The longer we are married the more our differences seem to surface. And they cause conflict! Is this normal? What’s the matter with us? What can we do about it?”
Conflict in marriage is normal. We are all self-centered, selfish people and we think we are right. Our goal in marriage is not to become conflict-free, but to learn how to manage conflict in a healthy way.
One of the causes of conflict are our differences. We have gender differences, personality differences and many other differences.
When I fell in love with John, I was attracted to his sense of stability. He was solid and predictable. I could count on him. He made me feel secure. I, on the other hand, am more spontaneous. I like surprises and fun. After being married for a while, his stability seemed boring! I longed for him to initiate some spontaneous fun.
Enter frustration–for both of us.
I had to accept the fact that we are different in this area. Instead of expecting him to initiate, I had to be the one who planned fun things. It was not fair to try to change him. Most importantly, I learned to be grateful for his stability and to focus on this.
I tend to see things in black and white. He sees in grey. I am decisive and he likes to mull things over. I am a visionary, full of ideas-often too many for him.
Differences seem to irritate; but could they compliment each other instead?
I had to realize that my man is wise and seems to know what is an appropriate idea for this time and what is not. I dump my ideas on him and trust him to sort through them. Because he mulls things over, he can protect me from making a quick, wrong decision, and he is a good sounding board. He, on the other hand, needs my decisiveness and my creativity.
After 47 years of marriage we have learned, and are still learning, how to make our differences work together for good. We are growing as individuals and as a couple.
Picture a large jigsaw puzzle.
It is comprised of multiple pieces, all different sizes and shapes, which have to fit carefully together to make a beautiful picture. Each piece of the puzzle is distinct, different with a specific place in which it belongs.
Building a marriage is a lot like putting a puzzle together, one piece at a time. It takes a lifetime. It would be so boring if it came all put together! Be patient. God has made you different. He has the final picture in mind. Because we are always growing, it won’t be finished this side of heaven. However, He will make it beautiful as we allow Him to mold us into the couple He has created us to be.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, ask yourself: What can I do to encourage my mate? It may be something completely different than what would encourage you. Give him a Valentine’s Day coupon for something that will make him smile.