The Goal of Marriage is Not to Think alike But to Think Together
Blending of Personalities in Marriage
Wouldn’t marriage be easier if husbands and wives were exactly alike, if husband and wife agreed on every issue, if they were on the same page in all decision? They will have nothing to argue about. But marriage will be less interesting when everything is same. If there are no contradictions between the couple, no checks and balances, no disagreements or second opinions, then life will become boring and there are more tendencies to make more mistakes in life. Oddly enough, tension can be a good thing. It is pressure that makes diamond and fire makes gold. Husband and wife need each other and the friction caused by their differences to grow strong.
Marital friction is not so much from husbands and wives being physically, emotionally, psychologically, and culturally different, but that they don’t understand the differences and accommodate them in their relations. When your eyes are focused constantly on all the wrong things –your spouse’s mistakes and shortcomings then you are going to have marital problems. When you begin to take your eyes off your spouse’s imperfections and put them on a perfect God who is capable of doing seemingly impossible things, your perception and your marriage start to change.
None of us would argue the fact that men and women are physically different. There are many physical differences: women live longer than men; men are usually stronger and able to run faster and lift more than women; and men have a greater amount of hormone testosterone, which increases their tendency toward aggression and physical activities.
Husband and wife might also differ in ways of looking at the world and living their lives:
v One might need closeness and intimacy while the other needs some space and doesn’t want to be bothered.
v One might be a spendthrift while the other is a miser.
v One wants to control the other while the other wants to be independent and doesn’t want to be told what to do.
v One wants sex regularly while the other wants it once a while.
v One wants to live a very clean house but the other is not good at homemaking.
v One feels that the children must be brought up strictly while the other feels that they should be given a lot of freedom to make their own decisions.
v One feels that his/her work is more important than everything while the other feels the family must take first place.
v One is faithful and the other is frivolous.
v One feels that his/her friends, parents or the children are more important while the other feels that the marriage is more important.
The differences that might exist between couples are inexhaustible. Some couples see their partner’s flaws but have deep commitment to remaining in the marriage. Some people brighten a room just by their presence, while others brighten the room by leaving. You should be a room lighter, not gloomy grumbler. Mathew 5:16 says, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your father in heaven.” Some marriages last with happiness despite some differences in values. The process of solving a problem can strengthen or weaken a relationship. Most men are less concerned and do not feel same as women when solving a problem.
Karol Ladd wrote, “Reflect for a moment on all the complementary items we use each day: nuts and bolts, cup and saucer, hammer and nails, needle and thread, fork and knife, soap and water. Each couplet represents two separate, individual objects working together to help and complete each other.” Therefore we need to see marriage as two individuals though different like the couplets working together for a greater good, not working against each other simply because they are different.
Men approach problems in a very different manner than women. For most men, solving a problem presents an opportunity to demonstrate their competence, their strength of resolve, and their commitment to the relationship. How the problem is solved is not nearly as important as solving it effectively and in the best possible manner. Men have a tendency to dominate and to assume authority in a problem solving.
Sinclair Ferguson said, “Marriage, and the process of coming to it, is not heaven! It is the bonding together of two sinners in order to make a partnership that is substantially greater than either of them alone.”
Committed couples learn to accept their difference rather than make them sources of arguments. Not every argument is worth the fight. There is wisdom in choosing not to take every issue to battle. Some couples agree to stay together and take on the daily challenges despite widely divergent needs and desires. Some things are worth fighting for; some things are not. It is as if each agrees, “Yes, I love and accept him/her despite those flaws. Yes, there are big value differences between us and we can stay together. No matter what, we can work it out.”
Marriage, like all relationships, involves give and take. Winning an argument and getting what you want may feel good in the short term, but you gain more in the long run if you give peace a chance. That is not to say you should not argue with your spouse. There are times to stand up for what you want or need. There are times to bring up a hurt or frustration and discuss it. If a particular issue is going to continue to bother you, you shouldn’t overlook it. It is better to discuss is than allow it to fester and grow into a bigger problem.
How do couples weather out their basic differences to stay together to achieve a happy relationship? Gary Chapman wrote, “Love is not the answer to everything, but it creates a climate of security in which we can seek answers to those things that bother us. In the security of love, a couple can discuss difference without condemnation. Conflicts can be resolved. Two people who are different can learn to live together in harmony. We discover how to bring out the best in each other. These are the rewards of love.” Sometimes the best thing to do in a situation is to overlook our hurt, swallow our pride, and set aside our needs and desires.
Some learn to become more tolerant of their partner’s behavior by giving up the struggle for change on demand. You must remember that every dream is not meant to become a reality in this life. You agree to stop pushing the buttons that set your partner off. You should be committed to staying together despite the differences between you and put the interests of the partnership over fighting about who is right or wrong. Try to accept that each partner is different and that differences bring variety and challenges to the relationship. With this acceptance comes the desire to accommodate more to your partner’s wishes. True personal change involves openness, non-blaming and non-defensive communication about conflict.
It is a funny thing about human values –they often become struck when another person demands change, they loosen when there is closeness, acceptance and seeing the partner through sympathetic eyes when both begin to see the pros and cons of each other position and see their partner with compassion, they begin to change naturally as they no longer have to defend their stance. Closeness comes about when you see the problem, not your partner, as the enemy.
Often when we contemplate marriage, we worry about losing our autonomy and individuality. But becoming one doesn’t mean losing who we are as individuals; rather, it means using who we are as individuals to complement each other and strengthen the marriage. When I say one, I mean that men and women have a right to equal opportunity and protection in marriage. Marriage is all about two unique individuals working like two strands of rope, twined together for greater strength and more useful service.
Who are you? How are you unique? What gifts and talents do you possess? How does your strength complement your spouse? How does his strength balance your weaknesses or gifts, talents and abilities vice versa to make your marriage successful? Each day, there should be a rededication of your marriage and reaffirmation of what you feel for each other. These words are meaningless without the day-to-day proving of them by your actions.