couple-168191_1280 My husband, Darrin, and I are a classic case of opposites attracting. We are aligned in our faith and core values and in our commitment to and love for each other and our children. We have some common interests, and our life together includes a lot of fun and laughter.

In general, though, we’re wired very differently. The ways in which we approach life often lie on opposite ends of the spectrum. Much of the time, we’re profoundly grateful for God’s design in our union. Our respective strengths and weaknesses create a helpful and beautiful balance. We don’t have far to go to find an opinion or perspective that will likely be quite different from our own. We’re less likely to excuse one another’s sins and weaknesses. The flip side of the coin, however, is that we also have to work really hard to understand, accept, and appreciate the differences in each other. Frankly, learning to do this has been significantly more difficult than we expected.

As an engaged couple, we received plenty of general encouragement along the lines of “marriage is really hard.” We appreciated the mostly good intentions behind this admonition and were thankful for the advice. Living in covenant with another sinful, imperfect human being is messy and, while full of many beautiful moments, is not a constant fairy tale. Whether you and your spouse are opposites like us, or you find yourself married to someone very similar to you, no married person lives in a difficulty-free union. It was helpful to be aware of this truth before actually experiencing it, and to know that struggling was normal.

Embrace Their Differences

However, knowing that marriage can be hard and knowing how to practically and specifically love well in the nitty gritty day-to-day are two different things. In our case, this has often meant struggling to understand the perspective and actions of each other in situations where our differences make unity a challenge. We’ve always taken our marriage covenant seriously and know we’re committed to each other and to God for life. We aren’t looking for a way out. We also want more than a “business partner” relationship, or to give into the temptation to let bitterness and anger grow and drive a wedge between us. We truly desire a marriage where we honor and enjoy one another’s differences as gifts from God. Over the years we’ve definitely found that the hard work that helps us appreciate and enjoy one another more is usually practical and specific. We’re learning to approach our moments of tension and irritation with each other as God-ordained opportunities to build a stronger marriage. In light of that goal, there are a couple steps of repentance and action we try to practice regularly.

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