Differences: How to Celebrate Them in Marriage
In our youthful whims, we do not always realize the gravity of the statement “marriage is not easy.” Sure, we hear old pro’s at it say it all the time. In the beginning, we only see our differences as cute and adorable.
Early Days of Romance in Marriage
In the early days, everything our significant other does is adorable. Some examples may be:
- The way he chomps on ice is so “him, and how she chews on her nails while thinking is so “her.”
- How he keeps everything in order makes her feel safe. And when she is scatterbrained is sweet and intriguing.
- When he drives slowly and is cautious about everything. It is like he realizes that he is carrying precious cargo. Or the way she races around the corners excites him because she is adventurous and a bit reckless.
(Disclaimer: these are in no way personal reflections)
We cannot imagine that any of those completely endearing differences will ever get tiring. They are the perfect spouse!
Let’s Get Real!
In truth, the only one who could ever be a perfect spouse is Jesus. He is the only one who accepts our flawed and annoying ways. We are merely human, and imperfect. Your spouse is going to make mistakes, and so are you.
When the glossy romance of the honeymoon phase starts to dull, then those cute little antics can grind on us like we never imagined. Suddenly, the chomping ice and nail biting (or anything crunchy for that matter) is the most annoying sound you have ever heard. His need for order is overbearing, and her scattered thoughts make him feel like she isn’t listening to him. And his slow driving, well who knew you married grandpa! At the same time, he thinks she drives like a maniac and is careless. We did not see, or feel, all that when this relationship began.
What’s the Secret to Celebrating Our Differences?
In the beginning, we underestimate how much our differences can rub a raw spot on our attitudes, and at times, even drive us to the brink of insanity. Oh, but they do! Even more surprising is that we suddenly realize we have NO IDEA how to maneuver through the emotions that build up because of the ways we differ.
How do we even begin to celebrate our differences? What’s the secret recipe? Well, it lies in the ingredients, the spices if you will. Each one works together to make a marriage beautiful.
The Flavor of Acceptance
There is only one you, and only one them. God doesn’t make carbon copies when he dreams us up and forms us in the womb. He gave us each strengths and weaknesses, so that we can be helpful to each other. It is a good thing you are not just alike. Imagine how boring life would be if you married your clone.
Make room for your differences and accept them unconditionally. Fostering an environment that appreciates the way you differ makes it easier for acceptance to flow. Solid communication skills in marriage will help you build an environment of acceptance. Accepting each other unconditionally improves intimacy in marriage. Don’t be afraid to seek relationship coaching if you are struggling to accept differences.
The Aroma of Grace
Ok, so you have accepted that you are different, now what? You are still feeling irritated and frustrated about it.
Perhaps you are frustrated because you need to add another spice to the air, grace. “Grace is unconditional love toward a person who does not deserve it.” (Paul Zahl). It is mercy, not merit. Jesus extends mercy to us constantly. We do not have to earn it. It is a gift given freely by the blood He shed for us. Just as we are gifted with what we did not earn, we should not require our spouse to earn it either. Give grace frequently and freely.
Do you struggle to extend grace freely? If the answer is yes, it could be because of unrealistic expectations for your marriage and spouse. Expectations are at the Root of Many Conflicts in Marriage. Unrealistic expectations can hinder acceptance and grace for our spouses.
Oh Hey! That’s All?
It sounds so simple. However, mastering consistent acceptance and grace is not. IT TAKES COMMITMENT! Jesus may have been a natural at it, but we have to develop it. Our minds must be renewed with the love of Christ.
Here are more tips to celebrate differences.
Keep working at it and you will be a world champion one day!