When my wife and I dated, my banking habits were less than stellar. I didn’t know where my check ledger was hidden. If I needed to know how much money I had, I went to the ATM for an account balance check—this was pre-Internet banking.
Everything always worked out. I paid my rent, kept gas in my truck, and was able to take my sweetheart to my favorite Tex-Mex restaurant regularly. I thought everything was a-ok.
Then we got married. We had a come to Jesus meeting about finances. My wife is meticulous with finances—she tracks and records and manages. Our differences don’t stop with money. My wife is a Type A. I like to roll with the punches, and I am always coming up with a crazy idea. Interestingly enough, we’re both introverts!
Here’s my disclaimer: I am not an expert, and I don’t know much. I do know that my wife and I are very different, and I know God brought us together. Our personalities are very different, but we work well together.
With the understanding that it’s okay to be different than your spouse, how do you manage the personality differences in your marriage? Here are a few ideas based on my experiences:
Your spouse doesn’t need to be fixed.
When my wife is given a work assignment, she wants to complete it as perfectly as possible as quickly as possible. I don’t understand that. I don’t work that way. I’m not lazy. That’s probably not too believable after reading about my college banking habits, but it’s true. I just prefer to allocate time to a task close to its deadline.
Early on, we tried to fix each other. I wanted her to be a certain way, and she wanted to change me. Those conversations didn’t go well. God made my wife. She is my favorite person, and it is foolish of me to think I could “fix” her. The issue wasn’t that my wife was wrong; it was an issue of selfishness on my part. I wanted her to behave a certain way. That wasn’t her problem. It was mine.
Give your spouse space.
Are you married to an introvert? An extrovert? A Type A man? A Type B woman? A driver? A far cry from yourself on the Meyers-Briggs? Be graceful and allow your spouse an opportunity to do whatever drives her or him. That sounds easy, right? Just gracefully walk out of the room, and let them do what they do.
Take it a step further, though. If your wife is an extrovert and you are an introvert, take a deep breath, and go to the dinner party without moping. Let your spouse be in her element. Give her space to be herself and support her. Is your husband a Type A driver? Give him the opportunity to run. In love, allow your spouse the freedom and space to be who God created her or him to be.
Celebrate the differences.
Have you ever read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman? He has a free resource on his website that helps uncover your primary love language. My wife took the test, then I took the test. Our love languages weren’t similar at all—surprise! But we realize that celebrating our different love languages is vital. My wife needs affirmation. I really like gifts. And we use that knowledge to love each other as best we can.
Personality differences need to be acknowledged and celebrated too. I value my wife’s passionate dedication to the task at hand. I am thankful for her driven nature; she has helped me more times than I can count. Even though it’s at a glacial pace, I have incorporated some of her ways. I see the value in her approach to tasks.
I am still the same guy from back in the ATM days, but I have been refined. I do have a default pattern, but my wife shows me daily that there is more than one way… and by her own admission, she has mellowed out after being around me for over a decade.
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17, NIV)
When I was younger this verse conjured up the image of a dark smoky barn with a sweaty blacksmith standing in front of a huge fire, smashing his hammer against a piece of metal, sharpening it through brute force. The image was intense and incorrect. We don’t sharpen one another like that.
I think a better image would be a chef sharpening his knife on a sharpening steel. Have you ever seen that on a cooking show? Shik! shik! The chef isn’t transforming the blade. He is honing it. The chef is getting the steel back in alignment. It is a maintenance skill.
I think the same thing is true in this verse. I also believe it to be true in a marriage where two different types of people have joined as one. I know God brought my wife and me together. In our relationship, our differences have been mutually beneficial. We have found ways to augment and sharpen one another.
In all likelihood, you and your spouse are very different. That’s a good thing.
Are you and your spouse different? In what ways has God used that to sharpen you? Start a conversation with your friends by sharing one of these photos: