They say opposites attract. And at first, the differences are what make each other loveable.
That’s why the introvert marries an extrovert.
The night owl ends up with a morning person.
The spender decides to get hitched with someone who’s really thrifty.
But after the wedding comes… life. And what was once cute is now irritating.
Why is she so soft with the kids? They need to learn some discipline or they’ll never grow up to be productive adults!
Why does he have to be so messy? All I want is an orderly home!
You know how it goes. Almost without fail, that personality trait that was so charmingly “opposite” and interesting when you were dating becomes a nuisance once you’re married. Gender differences only serve to compound the problem.
I bet some of you who are reading this are nodding your heads about now, a half-smile on your face, thinking about that quirk in your spouse you’d love to change.
For others it’s much more than an annoyance. It might be turning into an “irreconcilable difference.”
In today’s broadcast, Focus’ Dr. Greg Smalley and his wife, Erin, point out how the normal frustrations of marriage, when left unchecked, can be the cause of a lot of conflict. “Satan wants us to believe the differences are the problem,” Greg says.
But as he continues, we uncover the truth:
“God is saying, ‘What I created will never be the problem.’ The problem is never differences; it’s how people manage their differences,” Greg says. “The key is, can you learn how to manage these differences?”
We spent our time together learning how to manage those differences.
I’ll share three pieces of advice we explored:
1. Think of marriage like being in a canoe.
Back when you were dating, you had separate canoes. You could come together, row next to someone you relate to… and part ways. But now that you’re married, you’re in the same canoe. Every little movement you make impacts your spouse. If your spouse leans in one direction, it throws you off-balance as well. It might make you feel unsafe. That’s why spouses sometimes try to control each other – they feel threatened by the movement. What you have to learn is this: being in the same canoe is a good thing. Learn to row together.
2. Don’t be your spouse’s “doctor”
When you go into the hospital for a check-up, the doctors evaluate you for what’s wrong. They take a critical look to find out what’s off beam. Erin points out how, too often, we take that “clinical” approach to evaluating our spouse. When we look them up and down, we only have eyes for what doesn’t align to our preferences or expectations. We coldly critique them instead of extending grace. Needless to say, that’s not the best way to keep a marriage strong. Let’s choose to remember that God said what He made is good. Let’s choose grace.
3. Know thyself… and thy spouse
One thing that will help you show grace is to understand your inner workings, and what makes your spouse tick. Greg and Erin share a funny anecdote about a beautiful drive they once took in silence. While Greg was thinking how pleasant it was to quietly enjoy the scenery together, Erin interrupted his thoughts with a question – “What’s wrong?” She thought his silence meant he was ignoring her. In her mind, it was the perfect moment to connect. In that moment, they needed a better understanding of each other. He would have benefitted from knowing she wants to connect with words; she would have found it helpful to understand he needs times of quiet.
I hope you’ll tune in to today’s broadcast. What I’ve shared today is but the tip of the iceberg of the keen insight and practical advice Greg and Erin shared. When you tune in you’ll also learn about a personality test, available on our website, that helps give couples insight into each other’s personality. I believe you’ll find it a very useful tool in helping building a stronger relationship with your spouse.
Listen to “Cherishing the Differences in Your Spouse” on the radio, online or via app for iPhone or Android.
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