“We’re SO different!!!”
Isn’t that something you realize about each other the longer you live together as husband and wife?
Before you marry, you concentrate on the many things you have in common. But after you’ve been married for a while and your life gets busy with all it takes to maintain a household … WOW! You can sure see how very different you both approach life!
It can easily get to the point where eventually your differences overshadow all or most of your commonalities.
But what is that all about… why are we so different? Well, there are many reasons —a few of them are because:
- We were raised in different homes with different parents and siblings, maybe even different cultural influences were involved.
- We were influenced by different friends and life experiences. No two people go down exactly the same path in life and those experiences and people influence how we approach life.
- Our different educational, church, and personal experiences with God, all have a big influence on that which we value and decide is important to us.
- Because of our earlier experiences, we’ve formed different expectations concerning how we approach situations. Many of them, we didn’t even realize we held until something or someone (like our spouse) bumps into them and they come to the surface.
- We have been created uniquely different by God with different temperaments and DNA (which influences us as well).
- We have hormone and testosterone differences that influence us daily (and sometimes minute-by-minute).
The list can go on and on … and THEN there are our gender differences that influence how we approach life! We don’t even realize how much that can change the way we interact in various situations in life!
When we enter into the everyday pressures of life as husband and wife, all of these differences really start to come to the surface —BIG TIME —especially in how we approach communication! We can’t live on a bio-chemical high forever. Eventually (if we are good-hearted people) we will need to deal with reality of who we are and how we can make our partnership grow in love within our marriage.
So what do we do when our many differences blare out at us and cause so much confusion and anxiety?
That’s when we grow up. After-all, marriage isn’t for the faint of heart or for children. We have made a grown-up commitment and we need to learn how to live up to our commitment with each other maturely in the sight, and with the help, of God!
As the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13 (the Love Chapter), “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I [grew up] I put childish ways behind me” (1 Corinthians 13:11). That’s great reasoning for all of us to apply!
When we grab onto the reality of the maturity it takes to make our love and marriage work, that’s when we become students of each other and students of marriage. And that’s when we ask God to help us to learn how to use our differences to work for us, much as God points out in the Bible that the different parts of the body are to work together. (See:1 Corinthians 12:12-26.)
In studying each other and in studying marriage and asking God for wisdom, we can become a better marital team. (And even if you don’t have a spouse that will cooperate in acting as part of a marital team, you can gain much wisdom and help by studying and applying what God teaches you along the way.) Because:
“Once you understand why your husband acts that way, or why your wife thinks that way, it can change how you feel about him or her, though nothing has really changed. Compassion will come with an accompanying perseverance —all because you now understand. I cannot overstate the importance of understanding.” (Pastor Mark Gungor, from article “The Power of Understanding” posted on Laughyourway.com)
Studying your spouse and the differences that your background influences and your gender differences makes in your approach to life and communication, can help the way you understand and perceive your spouse’s actions (and non-actions). Philip J. Swihart, one of the authors of the book “The First Five Years of Marriage” puts it this way:
“It’s possible that the communication gender gap lies in how messages are perceived. But the style and content of the messages themselves differ, too. Men tend to use language to transmit information, report facts, fix problems, clarify status, and establish control. Women are more likely to view language as a means to greater intimacy, stronger or richer relationships, and fostering cooperation rather than competition. In other words, it’s ‘debate vs. relate.’
“That means you and your spouse may be tuned in to very different ‘meanings’ in what each of you is saying. This provides fertile ground for misunderstanding, hurt feelings, and conflict. What one of you thinks is the other’s ‘hidden meaning’ can be 180 degrees out of phase with what the speaker really intends to communicate. This can easily lead to distorted conclusions about the other person’s motivations.
So to help you to better understand each other and how your many differences play into the way you communicate with each other, I found several articles posted on different web sites to help you. Here, at Marriage Missions, we pray they will assist you in building communication bridges once you better understand each other.
Please keep in mind that sometimes the communication roles will be reversed —we/I get that! And if that is true, then accept it that way and go from there. But for the most part, you will probably find the following articles true to a great deal of your situation in your gender differences. Just glean the advice you can use and don’t use the rest, asking God for wisdom.
To read these articles, please click onto the web site links provided below:
And for something on the lighter side (figuring that laughter is the “best medicine” to help you cope with your differences), please click onto the web site link below to read:
This article is written by Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International.
If you have additional tips you can share to help others in this area of marriage, or you want to share requests for prayer and/or ask others for advice, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.
Filed under: Communication and Conflict