I once heard someone say, “You may never think alike, but you can work to think together.” Those are wise words, if you ask me. Steve and I have learned that this also means that we can be different together.
Throughout our 45+ years of marriage, I have to say that Steve and I have grown to think together in a lot of ways. We used to be SO different in almost every way two people could approach matters. But through the years, we’re finding ways to bridge those differences. And we’re learning to make them work for us, rather than against us.
Some of the ways we are different and yet we make it work for the “we” in our marriage is:
• Steve is more impulsive, I’m more careful. (We actually balance each other, when we allow it to.)
• Steve is a real joker. I’m more of the serious one in the family (although I love to laugh. Steve makes me laugh a lot, which endears me to him even more).
• Steve is higher energy when it comes to playing around. I’m higher energy when it comes to work matters. (He helps me to enjoy life more and I help him to be more productive.)
• Steve’s approach to most work projects is, “That’s good enough.” I have a tendency to think, “That’s not good enough.” (I help him to do a bit better of a job on work projects. And he helps me to ease back a bit, which can be good.)
• Napping is one of his favorite past times. To me, it’s almost torture.
• Steve can fall asleep in a few minutes, or less. It takes me a LONG time to fall asleep. Oh, how I wish I had that talent.
• Steve would eat mostly junk food if it were up to him. I’m into nutrition. It’s my mission to keep him as healthy as I can (“friendly” persuasion helps).
• Steve is a morning person (as long as it’s not too early). I’ve become a morning person and what’s funny is that now I’m usually up before he is. I’ve learned to adapt and I actually like it now.
• When it comes to having company over, Steve would prefer just a few. My philosophy is “the more the merrier.” I love a house full of people enjoying themselves. (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. See, even after 45+ years, we can and do change :)
• Steve likes to listen to a minister who is more of a preacher. I like the teaching approach. (That’s still the same.)
• Steve is all about comfort, when it comes to decorating. I LOVE comfort. But I also like things to look nice, as well. (I once wanted to be an interior designer. But lately, I’ve been letting go of more artsy things in exchange for comfort.)
• Steve is not artsy, at all (even though his parents owned a high end art gallery). I love art. I was a watercolor artist and was an art major in college —wanting to teach art in elementary school. (He has expanded his taste. And I have learned to not push art on him as much.)
• If we have company and the house is a mess afterward, Steve’s philosophy is “Let’s go to bed. Tomorrow is another day.” Mine is, “Lets clean it up now so we don’t have to face it tomorrow.” (We have been learning to compromise back and forth on that one.)
Also, As Far As Being Different Together:
• When it comes to conflict, Steve wants to hide from it. 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 when it seems important to him.)
• Steve is a zippy driver —his car is his palace and he doesn’t want drivers to get in his way. I have a tendency to be cautious and give people their space. (The good news is that Steve is backing down a bit more realizing 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 will say “yes” to committing us to doing something right away. I say, “yes” after giving it prayerful thought. (I used to say “yes” too easily earlier in our marriage, and it caused problems. I’ve backed off on that one, and so has Steve. We just can’t do it all. Just because we CAN do it, it doesn’t mean we should. We’ve learned that we need to give God more elbow room to bring the “unexpected” in so we can participate with His last minute “appointments” for us.)
• Steve was a radio broadcaster so he enjoys being in front of the microphone or in front of a crowd. I’m not that comfortable in those spots and prefer to be a “behind the scenes” person. I’m happy feeding Steve the info he needs to use for whatever public event he’s involved in. That is because I’m more of a researcher, where he’s more of a person who likes to “wing it.” (Although when it comes to marriage matters, we’re both passionate speakers.)
• For years, I was the one who would initiate the family gatherings, family phone calls, and family vacations and talks. Steve loved family, but wasn’t motivated to initiate anything. (Steve is now a great initiator, and I let him, and encourage it.)
• As one Marriage Message revealed, Steve is a “Condenser” and I’m an “Amplifier” in our communication styles (See: Marriage Message #204).
Those are just SOME of the many differences we face. But as I said before, fortunately for our marriage, we’ve learned how to bridge our differences. We’ve even used them to our advantage as a couple. It took us a long time to learn to use our talents in ways so they help us rather than hinder us. 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. (See Marriage Message #217 – When the “WE” Breaks Apart.) How ridiculous was that? Together, when we apply the “we” to our relationship, we’re much more productive, powerful, and successful in that ,which we apply ourselves to do.
If we really think about it, if we were both so much alike, it would almost erase our individuality —that which brings a bit of sparkle into our relationship.
Bridge Marriage Differences
I hope you’re able to bridge your differences and allow them to work for your marriage, rather than tearing against it. Look for ways to be different together.
“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)
Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this blog.
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