Belonging Day 14: On Being Married to Your Opposite

BelongThere 

My husband and I have many aspects in common: our faith, our love of the outdoors and camping, our mutual need to exercise, our passion to play and listen to good music. Those are the points of intersection that drew us together, the initial realizations that made us rotate our posture from side to side to face to face.

Those “Oh, you too?” moments that surface while you’re dating and convince you that this person is just like you.

Then you go to pre-marital counseling and the counselor gives you all the pros and cons of the two of you taking on a life of marriage together.

Our went a little like this…

“Well, your potential husband is someone who values only using words when he needs to, when they’re meaningful. And you, you like to have warm, fuzzy words come your way, a lot. So there’s going to be some disconnect there.” And about five other points of potential conflict.

We nodded our heads dutifully and skipped out of there knowing we could defy all of his petty concerns, we were in love! We also had a paper test for next time, the Myers-Briggs personality assessment.

According to their website,

The essence of the theory is that much seemingly random variation in the behavior is actually quite orderly and consistent, being due to basic differences in the ways individuals prefer to use their perception and judgment.

Perception involves all the ways of becoming aware of things, people, happenings, or ideas. Judgment involves all the ways of coming to conclusions about what has been perceived. If people differ systematically in what they perceive and in how they reach conclusions, then it is only reasonable for them to differ correspondingly in their interests, reactions, values, motivations, and skills.

I tested as an ESFJ and he tested as an INTP. I will spare you the longer descriptions and simply point out the fact that we scored as exact opposites in the way we judge and perceive life. According to the indicators, I’m an externally focused, pragmatic, emotional planner and he’s an introspective, visionary, logical person that likes to keep his options open. All that to say, we interpret the same information in a contrasting way and consistently value divergent ways of doing things.

Undeterred by this information, we got married.

That was almost 13 years ago, and I’m thankful that our marriage has been a blessing to both of us. However, after the falling-in-love chemicals fade away and the years tick by, the differences in the way we relate to life compared to our spouses can become more evident than the similarities and we are no exception. The hard part about marriage is doing life with someone else, someone that is inevitably quite different than you, maybe even your opposite. But it’s also the part that is the point of marriage.

Marriage is about the journey, the process of becoming a changed person in order to honor the of the head of marriage, Christ, and in order to honor the one to whom we’re married. One who can listen to another perspective and really try to hear what they’re saying, without needing to feel defensive. One who can assert for their own needs in a way that doesn’t undermine another’s. One who can humbly serve at every opportunity, not because we’re doormats, but because that is what Jesus did and does. Changes that serve the world beyond the scope of the marriage.

We can be wonderful people on our own. Saintly, kind, Christ-like. But in the context of marriage, our best qualities are tested and our worst qualities can come out. We can not be married and not change, either for the better or worse.

I get frustrated by the petty evidences of our contrasts: like when every. single. pan. has to be used to make a Saturday morning breakfast or when my husband springs going to the beach right after church and I lack all the things I need for the family to have a good time. He gets annoyed when he thinks I’m being too spend-y or spoiling our kids. It’s in the pettiness that I’m tempted to think it’d be easier do this adult thing by myself. I don’t need his crazy ideas messing up my perfect approach to cooking, planning, shopping or raising children.

So daily you and I have a choice: continue to fly the flag of our own personality traits or ask ourselves how can I submit myself to the pumice stone of this other personality and become more beautiful, more like Christ? 

That doesn’t mean we allow abuse or unhealthy patterns of relating, I would never advocate for that. I’m talking about preferences and values, the things can chip away at us over time and lead to bitterness or beauty.

Marriage doesn’t work well if both parties aren’t invested in this idea of mutual submission, but when we are, we become new people, morphing from our extremes in deference to the center. To a place where our personalities are tempered in light of our spouses’ and those differences don’t matter so much anymore.

Honey, I kind of hope you skip reading this one, because I know I’m going to get called out. XO

Comments

  1. Love that last sentence! This is truly a very wonderful piece of writing.

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