Appreciate Your Differences in Marriage

Written with love, by Pastor Dave Page

One of my favorite Seinfeld episodes is when Jerry falls in love with someone he perceives to be just like him. It goes like this:

Jerry: I think I'm in love.
Kramer: Oh. Come on.
Jerry: No it's true. This woman saved my life. I was crossing the street. I was almost hit by a car and then we talked and the whole thing just seemed like a dream.
Kramer: If a guy saved your life you'd be in love with him too.
Jerry: No, no this woman is different, she's incredible. She's just like me. She talks like me; she acts like me. She even ordered cereal at a restaurant. We even have the same initials. Wait a minute, I just realized what's going on.
Kramer: What?
Jerry: Now I know what I've been looking for all these years – myself! I've been waiting for me to come along and now I've swept myself off my feet.
Kramer: You stop it man, you're FREAKING ME OUT!

Needles to say that relationship didn’t work out.


Opposites Attract, Opposites Attack

Truth be told, most couples are opposites. Opposites attract and then opposites attack.  When I first met Carrie, I was attracted to her physically and because she was so different than me. Sadly, over time, these same differences began to annoy me. In fact, I thought I’d made a mistake and married the wrong person.

I then did what any loving husband would do. I tried to fix her in order to make her more like me. I was shocked when she rejected my custom personal development plan for her life. Needless to say, this led to much conflict those first few years of marriage.

Marrying someone who is opposite of you has some real benefits. If you married someone who was just like you, then you wouldn’t improve, grow, get out of your comfort zone or enter into another person’s thought world. 

King Solomon once said, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”[1]

Differences can help each spouse mature. Differences can add richness, depth, and texture to your marriage, that is, if you embrace them.  In fact, your differences could turn out to be your greatest asset as a couple. 


Identify Your Differences

Adrienne Gunde Photography

Adrienne Gunde Photography

You know you are different than your spouse, but in what ways are you different? For example, Carrie and I are very opposite in our temperaments on the Myers-Briggs Types.  I prefer introversion; she prefers extroversion. To recharge my batteries, I like to go to the beach and run (alone) by the water. She likes to go to Disneyland with other people.  In fact, she prefers the 3-day pass. I’d rather have a root canal then go to Disneyland for three days but she loves the adventure and being around people.  We make decisions differently. I prefer thinking; she prefers feeling.  We approach structure differently. I prefer judging; she prefers perceiving.

According to the StrengthsFinder test, we have different strengths. My top strength is Achiever. I am task oriented and like to achieve something every day. Her top strength is Empathy.  She is people oriented and very empathetic.  She works with special education kids, primarily autistic kids. It’s a real gift that I don’t have.


Accept One Another

Accept one another just as God has accepted you. That means warts and all.  A major breakthrough came in our marriage when I was able to accept Carrie’s differences and she was able to accept mine.  It’s still an ongoing challenge but it’s the only way I know how to survive and thrive in marriage. Give your spouse the freedom to be themselves.


Become Better Together

Differences are not something to be resented. They are something to celebrate and use. I am a risk taker. Carrie likes to play it safe.  I am logical, analytical, decisive, clear, and assertive. I like to plan things in advance.  Carrie is energetic, enthusiastic, curious, creative, and imaginative. She is spontaneous.  She has helped me stop and smell the roses in life and just sort of loosen up. She is a fun person to be around and I appreciate that. I think I have helped her appreciate advanced planning and the results of good planning, especially on our vacations.

King Solomon observed, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.”[2]

I believe everything happens for a purpose.  You weren’t attracted to your spouse by accident. Maybe God led you to him or her because He knew precisely what you needed to reach your full potential.

[1] Proverbs 27:17 (NLT)

[2] Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NKJV)