When Differences Become a Challenge


Photo Caption: Quarrelling Young Couple in the Bed, Young People Lying Turned Away From Each other and Lay on Their Sides Holding Grudges and Being Offended

I started working in a hardware store when I was nineteen years old. One day saw an item on an order sheet described as a “male fitting.” I had no idea what this meant, so I asked my boss about it. He grinned and took me to the back room. He pulled out a plumbing part and said “This is a male fitting.” Then he pulled out another part. “This is a female fitting.” Then he put the two parts together—the male inserted into the female—to show me why they were called that.

I was stunned. I turned beet-red. My boss laughed.

From that day on, I became convinced that all plumbers were perverts. And every time someone came in asking for a male or female fitting, I had to bite my tongue to keep from cracking up. Even hardware store guys understand that men and women are inherently different. Not only do they look different, but they have distinct purposes.

We are created to fit together. God made us to work as a team. “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.'” (Genesis 2:18). When couples understand they were made for each other, it becomes easier to embrace their differences. By doing so, they’re able to create something dynamic and beautiful together—something neither of them could have made as individuals.

On his own, a man may accomplish great things. But when he binds himself to a godly wife, the possibilities become even greater. On her own, a woman may find a perfectly happy and productive life, but a brand-new world of opportunities opens up to her if she can build a meaningful life with a husband. When we embrace our differences, we become stronger as a team. When we reject and criticize those differences, we find trouble.

How often do you hear of a couple filing for divorce due to “irreconcilable differences”? That’s the phrase people use when there’s not a single identifiable thing that pulls them apart, but a number of problems they just can’t seem to sort out. So they give up.

In my years of counseling, I’ve discovered that most of these couples married because of their differences. They were drawn to each other because of their dissimilar natures, their distinct personalities, the unique ways they thought and looked and acted. Those differences made them want to build a life together. Then they seemed surprised how difficult it was to blend two unique individuals into a unified whole. They got stuck. They stopped trying.

You and your spouse are different, and that is a good thing. But it is also something that inevitably leads to conflict, misunderstandings, and problems you need to work out. Marriage is about learning to reconcile the differences that make us so special and unique. Don’t fight them, but welcome them. Grow through them and embrace the new and exciting possibilities our different personalities can bring.

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