Author Leo Tolstoy once said, “What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility.”
Tolstoy’s profound insight is precisely why a successful marriage isn’t a matter of fate, chemistry, or a roll of the dice. Good relationships are about finding common ground in the midst of differences that naturally occur between two people.
The problem is, a lot of couples give up on each other too easily. Rather than growing as individuals and as a couple and learning to understand each other better, they say, “You know what? It’s not working. Let’s just give up.”
Why that happens isn’t really a mystery. It’s partly the destructive influence of our enemy. John 10:10 tells us, “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy.” Satan wants to devour marriage because it reflects the image of God on earth.
It’s also partly because of our own behavior. Look beneath the surface of most failed relationships, and you’ll find some common patterns.
Take Mark and Jenny, for example. They rarely discussed their relationship, and when they did talk, they glossed over their areas of incompatibility – from money to sex to which end of the toothpaste to squeeze!
It only took a few short years of ignoring their differences for Mark and Jenny to feel like “the chemistry just wasn’t right” and to consider divorce. It’s really sad when a marriage disintegrates because a husband and wife don’t understand that fundamental truth – their problem isn’t their differences, it’s their inability to address them.
Differences don’t need to be obstacles to a healthy relationship. In fact, our spouse’s strengths are meant to complement our weaknesses. With patience, we can learn to embrace our spouse’s unique view of life, and as we do, we’ll find our marriage strengthened and enriched.
On our radio program today are popular guests Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley. Greg is the vice president of Marriage here at Focus and, together, he and Erin do a great job in helping lead our marriage outreach.
Whether your marriage is doing well or could use a lot of support, the ideas they’ll share can help you go deeper in your relationship. With God, not only are all things possible, but there’s always hope.