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Opposites Attract Until They Bump Heads

When my husband and I were dating, I would get completely enthralled just watching and listening to him. He was witty, bold, daring, and very convincing. He had monstrous dreams and was such a hard worker. His sense of humor was the cherry on top for me. I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this man who so effortlessly made me cackle. He had a flurry of traits that got me hooked. 

And although it was apparent to me that his personality was in many ways different from mine, this didn’t detract me one bit. As a matter of fact, it only made me feel more drawn to him- if only to savor and benefit from the traits that I lacked. The adage that opposites attract held true for me. Within the first two years of our marriage, the same traits that had lured me to him like a magnet seemed to have morphed into points of irritation. 

It suddenly irked me that he was a social butterfly, thrusting me into public spaces, whereas the introvert in me preferred to be holed up at home. I started frowning at the fact that he was a risk taker, making bold decisions for our new family, whereas I would have preferred taking my time carefully looking out for any pitfalls. His spontaneity also started to tick me off. He would, for instance, phone our friends at the spur of the moment and invite them over for lunch or dinner. I, on the other hand, preferred organized planning where hosting guests was concerned. 

Needless to say, we spent lots of time embroiled in conflict because of our differences. We were both simmering in frustration and wondered how to find harmony. Thankfully we somehow managed to wiggle out of the resentment rut and figured out how to live with our differences. Here are some useful tips if you are smack dab in a conflict-laced season in your marriage. 

1. Stop trying to Change Your Spouse.

There’s a wacky joke that states love is blind, but marriage is an eye-opener. The differences you spotted and probably fancied in your partner during dating and courtship tend to get magnified in marriage. This is mostly because you are now with your partner around the clock. You no longer have to part ways after a coffee or lunch date. You now hurtle home together and wake up together the following day. You have a front-row seat in their lives and are well acquainted with both their strengths and weaknesses.   

One of the injustices you can take out on your spouse is trying to change them. It’s downright unfair and selfish. Besides, it’s nearly impossible to change an adult. Only God can redirect the heart of a man or woman. Jeremiah observed the heart is deceitful above all things and exceedingly wicked, and no man can know it. It is the Lord who searches the heart and tests the mind (Jeremiah 17: 9-10). 

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Only God can yank out a heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19). Nagging your partner and coercing them to change will only breed resentment in your marriage. Your partner will feel condemned and rejected. They signed up for acceptance and unconditional love and won’t take it lying down if you give them the opposite. However, this does not mean you cannot challenge your spouse to embrace healthier behaviors. By all means, respectfully let your partner know the areas where they could be and do better. But desist from pestering and manipulating them to change. 

2. Bear With Each Other’s Weaknesses.

“We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. For even Christ did not please Himself, but as it is written, ‘The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.’” – Romans 15:1-2

What is your attitude towards what you consider to be your spouse’s weaknesses? Do they aggravate you and cause you to say or do things you later regret? Paul teaches us a more excellent way where other people’s weaknesses are concerned. We are to bear with each other’s weaknesses – and not to please ourselves. This means when one of your spouse’s weaknesses rears its (weak) head, it’s time to please them and not yourself. 

This means it’s not time to scold, berate or rebuke them. On the contrary, it’s time to extend the unconditional love of Christ. The love that is patient and kind. Love that does not envy, boast, and neither is it proud. Love that does not dishonor others is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, and keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Love that always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13: 4-7) 

Paul remarks that as we please those weaker than us and not ourselves, it leads to their edification (Romans 15:2). This implies the way to stir up change in our spouses where their weaknesses are concerned is not by disparaging them but by bearing with them. 

3. View Your Differences as Blessings.

So your wife is a health freak and loves to whip up low-calorie foods and snacks. You, on the other hand, have always loved calorie-dense greasy food. You can either pout about the revolution in your kitchen or view it as a blessing. With healthier eating habits, you are less prone to lifestyle diseases and may shed some weight. Couples should learn to celebrate their differences as opposed to getting irritated by them. 

Besides, wouldn’t life be painstakingly vanilla if we were all the same? Paul taught that just as we have many members in one body, all the members do not have the same function. (Romans 12:4). It is absurd to wish your partner was just like you and even more absurd to try and change them to your liking. Couples should instead celebrate their differences and revel in the value, spice, and flavor their differences inject into their marriage. 

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4. Arm Yourself with Forgiveness.

“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” – Ephesians 4: 32

It’s baffling how often we are quick to extend forgiveness to everyone else around us, save from our spouses. It’s much easier to dish out forgiveness to our co-workers, relatives, neighbors, shop attendants, children, etc. But when do our spouses need forgiveness? That becomes a different story altogether. We don’t take their offenses lying down. We turn the offense over and over in our heads, scrutinizing it from all possible angles. We allow the offense to simmer with us for a long time so that we can feel every ounce of irritation it bears. 

The scriptures brim over with the admonition for believers to forgive each other. Nowhere does the word of God suggest our spouses are an exception. In fact, being the closest people around us, it goes without saying they are the ones we should be forgiving most. Peter asked Jesus how often one should forgive his brother who sins against him, and Jesus gave a baffling answer – seventy times seven (Mathew 18:22). Here, Jesus was indicating we should never run out of forgiveness for our brothers- the people closest to us. Your spouse is the person closest to you; therefore, you need to fill your tank of forgiveness for them to the brim. As your differences come to the forefront in marriage, be ready to dish out forgiveness.

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/izusek

Crosswalk Writer Keren KanyagoKeren Kanyago is a freelance writer and blogger at Parenting Spring. As a wife and mom, she uses her blog to weigh in on pertinent issues around parenting, marriage, and the Christian Faith. She holds a degree in mass communication with a specialty in print media. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram and/or shoot her an email at kerenkanyago@gmail.com.


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