How Differences Shape and Strengthen Your Marriage
By: Rebecca Barlow Jordan
For You shaped me, inside and out. You knitted me together in my mother’s womb long before I took my first breath. I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe. You have approached even the smallest details with excellence; Your works are wonderful; I carry this knowledge deep within my soul. - Psalm 139:13-14 VOICE
When God created us in His image, both male and female, He designed us with unique characteristics, gifts, and abilities. With spiritual maturity, we learn to accept that about ourselves, and we teach that to our children. None of us are cookie-cutter creations.
Yet nowhere is that truth more challenging than in the marriage relationship. That’s where different or unique suddenly rises as a hot topic.
Not that all women and men are predictable or labeled the same. All men are not mechanical or detail-oriented. All women are not great cooks or teachers. God gave each of us unique tendencies and abilities to accomplish His purpose in our lives. But in too many ways to mention, men and women are truly different.
Not only did God create us different from each other as male and female, with varying strengths and weaknesses, He also gave us individual characteristics that could either discourage or enhance the marriage relationship—depending on how we react or respond to each other. Too often, we allow our opposite behaviors to attack, not attract each other.
It took years for my husband and me to “get” that truth—that we are both different. We both possess strengths and weaknesses, but not necessarily the same ones. I rip; Larry cuts. I toss; he sorts. He files; I pile.
Sometimes those differences can bring conflict. One night when we were planning to lead a marriage enrichment retreat, our differences glared like a neon light. I wanted to throw in a little creativity—maybe some alliteration, drama, or flair into our teaching. But as long as it was relevant and current, Larry leaned toward the known and reliable. In the end (toward midnight, I think), we ended up laughing, realizing that familiar distraction and its dead-end. We pooled our strengths and learned from our weaknesses. And gained a great illustration for teaching the value of differences at our retreat the following month.
Through the years God has been teaching us the true value of our differences in our relationship. As it turned out, the very things that chafed me about my husband were the strengths that I needed. He helped fill in the gaps of my weaknesses. The same thing has happened for Larry—my strengths complimented his areas of weakness. I believe that’s by God’s design and plan.
That’s what God does with our unique differences if we’ll let Him. I’m still learning how God wants to blend those differences into the kind of relationship He wants us to have in marriage—one of acceptance and love.
But the older we grow, the more we realize how our uniqueness enhances and blesses us in ways we never thought possible. Instead of butting heads and moving in opposite directions, we can now lock hands and hearts and move together. We’re on the same side!
Not necessarily easy, but I love the journey so far.
Rebecca Barlow Jordan is a bestselling inspirational author and passionate follower of Jesus who loves to paint encouragement on the hearts of others. She has authored and contributed to over 20 books and has written over 2000 other articles, devotions, greeting cards, and other inspirational pieces. She is a regular Crosswalk contributor whose daily devotional Daily in Your Presence is also available for delivery through Crosswalk.com. You can sign up for Rebecca’s free ebook and find out more about her and her encouraging blog at www.rebeccabarlowjordan.com.
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Originally published Thursday, 02 February 2023.