Viva la difference!

Do you remember your dating days?

Can you recall how you felt about your partner when you first started going out together regularly? I can – it was incredible. I met a vibrant, spontaneous, extraverted, larger than life, creative, funny young man. It didn’t take long for me to be attracted to Andy – he brought a whole new perspective to my life because he was so different to me. And isn’t it true that often when we fall in love, we do so because that person is different from us.

We enjoy and appreciate those differences because they bring a freshness, an excitement and a diversity to our lives. Our curiosity is roused and we are keen to understand them. And then we get married.

After marriage, what happens?

Those differences that once attracted us can now be like two magnets repelling one another. We can view those differences through a more critical lens.

For us it went something like this……

Before we were married I loved Andy’s outgoing bubbly personality; he was so easy to talk to.
But after we were married, I asked myself, “Will he ever let me finish a sentence?”

Before we were married, Andy loved the way I was such a great listener.
But after we were married he wished I would share more, and not run away from an argument.

Before marriage, I thought he was a high-achiever and a goal-setter.
But after we were married I just wanted a weekend without a “to do” list so I could just read my book!

And so the list goes on….I’m sure you get the picture.

Before marriage we appreciated those differences.

But after marriage … well! So what has changed? Often, it’s just our attitude.

Ruth Graham was interviewed by a reporter and was asked if there was anything she’d like to see changed in her husband Billy. I like what she said: she said, “Why yes, but I learned early on in my marriage that my job was to love Billy and it was God’s job to change him.”

There’s a real lesson for us all, whether we are talking about our spouse or simply others in our world. It’s not our job to change someone, it’s God’s. We are commanded to love them – no matter what their differences.

Differences are not right or wrong – they are merely different.

It’s easy for us to focus on the differences of our spouse as a negative trait. In other words to view ourselves as right and our partner as wrong. But it’s absolutely vital that we understand that differences are not right or wrong, they are merely different. Learning to embrace those differences were the key for us. Remembering to view those differences as strengths and not weaknesses ensured that we stayed in appreciation mode not critical mode. I strongly believe that I’m a more rounded, more complete person as a result of the differences that Andy brought to our marriage and my life.

One final thought. When you’re faced with a situation that points out the differences between you and your mate, remember that while he is not perfect, he is God’s perfect gift to you. God can help you learn to love and accept your spouse just as he/she is.

Nikki Bray

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