“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! This is especially true as it pertains to communication differences.
It can easily get to the point where eventually your differences overshadow 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 decide is important to us.
- Because of our earlier experiences, we’ve formed different expectations concerning how we approach situations. We didn’t even realize we held many of them until something or someone (like our spouse) bumps into them. That’s when 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 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!
Differences Come to the Surface
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. This is especially true in how we approach communication! We can’t live on a bio-chemical high forever. Eventually we will need to deal with reality of how we can make our partnership grow in love within our marriage.
So what do we do when our many differences 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 in marrying. 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. This is much like what God points out in the Bible. The different parts of the body are to work together. (See:1 Corinthians 12:12-26.) And so are the different spouses.
Being a Marital Team
In studying each other and 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. That’s true even though nothing has really changed. Compassion will come with an accompanying perseverance. This is all because you now understand. I cannot overstate the importance of understanding.” (Pastor Mark Gungor)
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. It’s an avenue to 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 how your differences play into the way you communicate with each other, I found several Internet articles to help you. We pray they assist you in building communication bridges once you better understand each other.
Roles Can Be Reversed
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:
Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this article. If you have additional tips you can share to help others, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.
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Filed under: Communication and Conflict