~So accept each other just as Christ has accepted you; then God will be glorified.~
Ah, this has been a very difficult challenge area in my life recently. With both of us being unemployed and at home, we have stumbled over each other for past few months. In the beginning, I reacted to the differences I had discovered unfolding within my husband on my own terms and limited understanding of them. Each moment of opportunity would seem to flare up in my face and turn into an argument. There were moments when it appeared that we might not make it to the next day married. I kept asking myself, “What AM I doing wrong? Why is he treating me this way? Why doesn’t he listen better?” Then BOOOOOOMMM…it hit me…I was making it all about ME! I was trying to handle it ALL BY MYSELF. Silly me. Silly pride.
I eagerly sought out the Lord’s wisdom and guidance as to how to positively deal with the differences between the both of us. I found the answer within a book I had purchased several years ago [shortly after we were married]. The book is called “20 Rules and Tools for a Great Marriage” by Dr. Steve Stephens.
Here is some excerpts from the book: Rule 2: Accept Differences
“Every couple has its differences. Maybe spender has married a saver. Or a highly structured person is drawn to someone who celebrates spontaneity. Or a collector who likes a certain amount of clutter has married a tosser who draws great joy from clearing away clutter. God clearly has a sense of humor. He made us so that opposites attract. Often, once we get together, we drive each other crazy.
Sometimes it’s easy to let differences get the best of you, and you begin to believe that you’re just too incompatible to make your marriage work. NONSENSE!
We are all incompatible in some are or another. If compatibility were the main criteria for a great marriage, everyone would give up. God knows that balance is important;that’s why he gave you a spouse who is different from you. Thank him for those differences. Don’t try to pressure your partner into thinking of feeling or acting like you do. Instead, make an effort to understand and appreciate the differences.
If you grumble or nag, you will become bitter. If you fight, you will become frustrated. but if you relax and accept the differences as a blessing, you will learn the art of flexibility and compromise. You will grow in maturity, and the texture of your life will become richer. In the end, you will develop into a better person—a person of character and compassion.
Most conflicts are not about major moral or ethical issues but about different preferences. She wants it her way and he wants it his. The Bible asks, “What causes fights and quarrels among you??” In the next verse it answers its own question: “You want something but don’t get it” James 4:1-2, NIV.
As we learn to accept that we won’t always have to have it our way, marriage becomes a lot easier. After a while we realize that most of our fights are either stupid or selfish. As you learn to respect each other’s differences, you’ll find that you aren’t fighting as much and that you’re actually moving closer to each other. As you begin to accept the ways in which you and your spouse are different, you will begin to grow closer together. and as you grow closer, the differences will no longer seem like such a big deal.
Let’s pray together:
Thank you for making my partner just the way he is—with all his strengths and weaknesses and differences. Before the earth was formed you dreamed of my spouse. When the time was right you shaped his soul and watched his life grow into what it is today. It is no accident that the two of us are together. Yet there are days when our togetherness is challenged by our differences. Help me to accept what you have given me. Help me to rejoice in our differences, rather than merely tolerating them. Forgive me for the many times I have been less than respectful—those times I have not paid proper attention or have not acted upon my spouse’s words and ways which were different than my own. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
The next time you have an argument with your spouse, ask yourself, “Is this really about preferences?” Then try to see the issue from your spouse’s perspective. you might even try it their way.