Someone once said, “You may never think alike, but you can work to think together.” If you ask us, those are wise words! They’ve inspired us many times, through the years, to work to bridge our differences instead of erecting walls of contention. Those walls will only separate us. And that’s not what marriage is all about! So, we’re continually learning how to be different together.
It’s a matter of marrying our differences together so they work for us rather than against us. And this takes a lot of creativity sometimes. It also takes intentionality and involves a lot of give and take.
FYI: We have this Insight available in Podcast form. To listen, just click on the Podcast button to the right. →
When we first married, we thought we were so alike. (Most couples do.) But as time passed we discovered the opposite. We’re SO different! But we’ve learned over the years that being different can actually be good. We can find common ground to make our differences work for the greater good of our marriage.
It isn’t easy, however. Our differences can cause a lot of problems, IF WE LET THEM. But we’re determined not to let them. Instead, we’re learning how to marry those differences. It comes down to the fact that me + me can make a great “we” team if we work to make it that way! Our individual differences can work together in good ways much as different body parts benefit the whole body.
So, we’ve decided in this Marriage Insight to give you a peek into some of the differences we’re working through. See if you can relate in your own marital differences. Perhaps this will inspire you to find ways to build more relationship bridges in your marriage.
• Steve is more impulsive; I’m more careful. But we’ve found that we actually balance each other quite well, when we allow it to. So, we lean into doing just that!
• Steve likes to joke around. I’m the more serious one in the family. But Steve’s sense of humor actually endears me to him even more because I do love to laugh. Plus, as the Bible tells us, it’s good medicine! And that’s the truth! I have to admit though, that sometimes the timing of his joking around can cause problems. So, we’re continually working on that one! But it’s a fun problem to work on once we get past the annoyance stage.
• Steve is higher energy when it comes to playing around. I’m higher energy when it comes to work matters. So, he helps me to let go of more things; and I help him to work harder and finish what he starts. We’re a great team, when we approach it that way. Too much work and too much fun can bring lopsided results. We’re both learning that balance is important.
• Steve’s approach to most work projects is, “That’s good enough.” I tend to think, “That’s not good enough.” So, I help him to do a better job on work projects; and he helps me to ease back a bit on my expectations, which can be good sometimes.
• Napping is one of my favorite pastimes. To Cindy, it’s not important at all (except on Sunday). So, I nap and Cindy find quieter things to do. I wake up refreshed; and Cindy has done what she wants to do, and we’re both happy with that.
• I can usually fall asleep in just a few minutes. It can take Cindy a LONG time to fall asleep—same room, same surroundings, different results. (Note from Cindy: Oh, how I wish I had Steve’s sleeping talent! But envy and coveting isn’t a good thing. So, it is what it is; and we just go with the flow. God created us differently.)
• I really enjoy action movies. Cindy can only take so much of that type of commotion. It gets her too amped up before bedtime. And that just adds to her sleeping problem. (So, we have conceded that there is a restriction in how late we’ll watch these type of movies. Nothing is allowed that is particularly sad, bad, or explosive past 7:00. Everything past 7:00 is to be calm and peaceful. And I’m okay with that. We both can live well with that one.)
• I would eat mostly junk food if it were up to me. Cindy is into nutrition. Cindy feels it’s part of her mission to keep me as healthy as I can. After all, she want him to live longer! And who can argue with that motive? So, she’s been pretty stubborn on this one (with some exceptions). We’ve had a tug and pull going on this one through the years. But more recently I’m seeing wisdom in healthier eating. So now, we’re pretty united on this “mission”. The walls have come down and we’re now walking over this bridge together. Thank you Jesus!
• Steve has had a tendency to be a morning person. (He hosted a morning drive radio show. So he had to be up pretty early.) I’ve become a morning person. But what’s funny is that now I’m usually up before he is. I’ve learned to adapt and I actually like it. And he enjoys sleeping a bit longer.
• When it comes to having company over, Steve prefers just a few. My philosophy is “the more the merrier.” I love a house full of people enjoying themselves. Through the years, though, I’ve learned to cut back; and he is accepting of more.
• Steve has never been much of a reader. I’m a veracious reader. But lately, he’s reading a lot more. And he’s really enjoying it. This goes to show you that even after all these years of marriage, we can change :)
• Steve likes to listen to a minister who is more of a preacher. I like the teaching approach. That’s still the same. But we’ve learned to be okay with this. We refuse to argue about the preacher or the church we attend. That can’t be God’s will for us. So, we pray about it; and we’ve always been able to get to a place where we’re united in where we worship. After all, it’s all about God, isn’t it? Would He really want us to be divided over spiritual situations? In case you’re wondering, the answer is no.
• I’m all about comfort as far as how the house is decorated. Cindy likes comfort too. But she also like things to look “put together.” (Through the years we’ve learned to compromise on this. Our home is a combo of comfort and artsy things. And that works for us. We’re both happy!)
• Cindy has always liked spicy food. I have not; my family didn’t eat spicy food. (But over the years I’ve expanded my taste preferences. And now, I actually like my food spicier than Cindy. Go figure!)
• I’m not an artsy person. I never have been. This is “funny” because my parents owned a high end art gallery. Cindy loves art, and was a watercolor artist and an art major in college. But through the years, I’ve expanded my taste for art. I now like having it around our home. Even so, Cindy has learned not to push art on me too much. It’s all about balance.
• If we have company over and the house is a mess afterward, my philosophy is “Lets go to bed. Tomorrow is another day.” That makes sense to me. Cindy’s is: “Lets clean it up now so we don’t have to face it tomorrow.” (We’ve been learning to compromise on that one. Actually, I’m compromising on that more than Cindy. But I’m okay with that… most of the time.)
As Far As Being Different Together:
• When it comes to conflict, Steve wants to hide from it. But I want to deal with it and get it behind us. This made matters tense through the years until we both learned to give and take on this issue. He now deals with matters more readily; and I’m learning to back off quicker. But we both agree to deal with our conflicting issues at some point. Sometimes it’s soon; and sometimes it’s not.
• Steve is a zippy driver. His car is his palace and he doesn’t want drivers to get in his way. I tend to be cautious and give people their space. (The good news is that when I’m in the car Steve backs down more often. He knows that he makes me too nervous when he gets too close to the car in front of him. “Out of love for me,” as he phrases it, he is giving more space to the drivers ahead of us. Thank you Jesus!)
• Steve is a homebody. I’ve learned to be a homebody and now I even work from home. (We live by the motto, “together is a wonderful place to be.” So whether that’s at home or out somewhere, we’re good :)
• Steve tends to say, “yes” to committing us to doing something right away. I say, “yes” after giving it prayerful thought. (Now, we confer with each other before saying yes to commitments. That helps a lot. Plus, we’ve learned that we can’t do it all. Just because we CAN do something, it doesn’t mean we should. We’ve learned not to pack our schedule so tightly. We’re now giving God more elbow room to bring the “unexpected” in with His last minute “appointments” for us. And that has been good for us!)
• Steve was a Christian radio broadcaster; so he enjoys being in front of the microphone or in front of a crowd. That’s not my comfort zone. I’m more of a “behind the scenes” person. I’m happy feeding Steve the info he needs for whatever public event he’s hosting. (This works out well for both of us. Although, when it comes to marriage matters, we’re both passionate speakers.)
• I’m more of a researcher, where he’s more of a person who likes to “wing it.” (So, we use that when we’re speaking, and other times too. The combo is good!)
• Surprisingly, even with Steve’s radio background, he is more of a “Condenser” in his personal communication style. And I’m an “Amplifier”. It’s strange but it’s true. Although sometimes, the reverse is true. (To understand what that means, see the article: What’s Your Communication Style in Your Marriage?)
• For years, I was the one who would initiate the family gatherings, phone calls, and vacations and family talks. Steve loves our family; but he hardly ever initiated anything. (However, Steve is now a great initiator; and I let him, and I encourage it. It’s wonderful to see this change. And we’re both loving it!)
There you have it! Those are just SOME of our many differences. There are a lot more; but you get the idea. Fortunately for our marriage, we’re learning that we CAN be different together.
In the past we would compete with each other. Or we would think that our individual way was “better” than the other’s. We allowed our differences to put a wedge between us. But how ridiculous was that? It made no sense at all. That’s not why we married. So, we finally woke up and started making some changes. And these changes have been good.
In dealing with this issue in your marriage, below is a good explanation to a confusing question. We hope it brings some clarity to the matter.
“Why did God make us so different? Besides having a sense of humor, I believe there are three reasons. First, our differences force us to depend on God. Without God, marriage is impossible. God wants to be at the center of man-woman relationships, so He created a relationship so difficult that we have to keep Him there to make it work.
Second, our differences can lead to a complementary relationship. The man and the woman each contribute unique qualities that, together, can make a balanced whole.
Third, our differences can lead to deep intimacy. Because we are so different, we can come together again and again in a limitless number of physical, emotional, and spiritual combinations. (Dr David Clarke, from Men Are Clams, Women Are Crowbars)
That’s so true! God obviously has a plan in all of this. If we really think about it, if we were both so much alike, it would almost erase our individuality. And that would take a bit of the sparkle out of our relationship. And that could get boring!
Bridge Marriage Differences
We hope you’re able to bridge your differences and allow them to work for your marriage. Don’t allow your differences to tear you apart; instead look for ways to be different together. It all comes down to God’s view:
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)
May the “cord” of your marriage be unbroken! And if it is, may the Lord help you to strengthen it!
Cindy and Steve Wright
— ADDITIONALLY —
To help you further, we give a lot of personal stories, humor, and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below:
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One response to “Being Different TOGETHER”
Thank you very much for this article. It’s always very encouraging. I think being different together requires a certain level of convergence and agreement to form an alliance that agrees to make concessions where need be. If you don’t have the base ingredient of God and a desire to obey God completely, then being different together is a fallacy and wishful thinking. More often in such cases, one spouse becomes a doormat & martyr as they cede ground as a trade-off for peaceful co-existence. Eventually that spouse ends up so disenfranchised as nothing concerning themselves is valued. They die slowly and painfully or wake up one day and walk out. Unfortunately I am at that place of disillusionment.