family, marriage, relentless journey

OPPOSITES MAY ATTRACT BUT IT TAKES WORK TO GET ALONG

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Chad and I have been married for seven and a half years. I can honestly say that we are in a better place than we have ever been, but it hasn’t been without work and lots of it. Looking back, it has been quite a journey. It didn’t necessarily start out promising either. It wasn’t quite love at first sight for me. Lets just say that confidence was not something he lacked.  It didn’t take long however for me to see that the very thing that first put me off was the quality that became a non-negotiable for my future husband. We started dating and we both fell fast. We learned quickly that we had many shared interests, but truthfully, at the core, we are much more different than we are alike. Paula Abdul made this “Opposites Attract” idea famous singing words like, “Things in common, just ain’t one, but when we get together we have nothin’ but fun.” Nice try Paula, but it is a little more complicated than that.

I love the message translation of Ephesians 5:21-28 : “Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands. Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage.”

If you are married and reading this, lets have a moment of honesty. When we are standing in front of our friends, family and God reciting our marriage vows, we really had no idea what that would actually cost us. Marriage doesn’t solve our differences, it magnifies them, and it is only a beautiful union if there is mutual sacrifice. Paul lays out some massive tasks in these verses. When we marry, two very different people, from different backgrounds, with different habits and belief systems become one. And not just to survive, but to thrive, all for His glory. When you put it that way, it doesn’t sound “like nothin’ but fun”,  it sounds like a whole lot of work! In our case it has been, but it has been rewarding and a true source of joy.

You may also hear people say something like this. “What I love about my husband/wife is that he/she is different than me.” Or, “we really balance each other out.” These things are only true right up until they create conflict and misunderstanding. In our case, Chad is a very driven, forward thinking type of guy. He is not overly concerned about the past, and at times even struggles to enjoy the present. He is a natural born leader and modernization excites him. He’s outgoing, decisive and confident. He loves systems, taking charge and getting things done. And he does. I can’t tell you how much I love and admire these qualities, but there are times it can be overwhelming. As for me, I am a bit of an old soul. I am wildly idealistic, creative and sensitive. I hate nothing more than seeing people around me hurt. I am much more of an introvert, have a tendency to be reflective, enjoy the soaking up the present, and place a high value on deep, meaningful relationships. You get the idea. On paper, we are very different people. And truthfully, I do love that we are different. Two of me would never get anything done and two of Chad would compete to see who could burn out faster.

Many marriages that end in divorce often cite irreconcilable differences. I can relate. Chad and I in many ways could not be more different, but little by little, only through humbling ourselves, have we learned that our differences as two actually do make a much stronger one. I won’t leave you with a formula for marital success. I don’t think it exists. But I will say this. The same God who created this idea of marriage, also created both people in a marriage, and unlike us, He makes no mistakes. If we take to heart what Paul is instructing above, we take to heart things like understanding and support, and leading by not by domineering but by cherishing. By going all out for the  purpose of the “one”. This attitude sees our differences as a launching pad for growth and as a place where our strengths can be celebrated and multiplied. The instructions are clear and the work is worth it. So I ask. How are you and your spouse different? Are those differences celebrated or do they cause separation? Opposites may attract, but it takes work to get along.