Every couple will have some “irreconcilable differences” in marriage. That is the nature of relationships between two people. We are not clones.
We have different preferences and temperaments. Different past family cultures and histories. Different places we’ve lived. Unique perspectives on the world. Our own ideas, thoughts, feelings, and dreams.
It was our differences that most attracted us to our husbands when we first met. Their masculinity vs. our femininity. Their personalities that had something we admired maybe in areas where we were not as strong.
We will always have differences in marriage.
- Different parenting styles.
- Different cleaning preferences.
- Different dietary habits.
- Different scheduling preferences.
- Different hobbies.
- Different interests.
But different doesn’t mean the other is wrong. And it doesn’t mean the marriage is doomed.
Some of you really needed those words just now. You may even need to read those last two bolded sentences again.
The Secret to Resolving Differences in Marriage
It helps to know this truth:
Our Differences Can Be the Channel of a Lot of Good
It is our differences that help to stretch us as people. This is where we learn flexibility, patience, and spiritual maturity.
God often uses the things that won’t change in our marriage as sandpaper to help refine us and sand down our rough edges.
NOTE: This doesn’t mean we have to put up with abuse or being sinned against. We may need to address sin in our husband’s life. That’s not the kind of differences I am describing in this post. See below for more info.
The Secret to Dealing with Differences in Marriage
The differences, themselves, aren’t really the issue. It’s how we handle our differences that matters most.
I used to spend a lot of time trying to control my husband or force him to change to be more like me. I thought we had to think, speak, and act the same to have unity and love.
That was a recipe for misery for us both. It drove us farther from resolving the differences in our marriage.
Now, I seek to have a new approach to building a strong marriage.
I try to:
- Focus on my husband’s strengths. Every strength has an opposing weakness. I get to chose which side of the coin I want to focus on.
- Approach his masculine, unique perspective and world with wonder, friendliness, and curiosity instead of condemnation and a critical spirit.
- Have humility in my marriage, realizing my husband has a lot of wisdom I can learn from. And that I don’t always know best like I used to think.
- Realize different doesn’t mean wrong (if neither of us is sinning according to the Bible).
- Never look at him as my enemy now but as my fellow companion on this journey in life.
- Be open to anything the Lord wants to teach me and show me through the challenges.
- Thank God for our differences and invite God to use them to make us a stronger team.
- Appreciate that we have different strengths and weaknesses that make us better together than we are apart.
- Remember that our differences help to balance us out as a couple and also as parents.
- Trust God to use my husband’s differences to be a blessing in my life (Rom. 8:28).
- Assume the best rather than the worst when Greg does or says things differently than I would. The more I get to know his perspective, the more I realize he has great ideas, too.
- Be open to new ways of seeing the world and doing things. There are advantages to other people’s preferences, too.
- Be willing to compromise on things that really don’t matter that much in light of eternity.
– Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. I Cor. 13:4-5
– But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Gal. 5:22-23
Maybe you have suggestions you’d like to share, too. Have you learned how to make the most of the differences between you and your husband?
We’d love to hear about it.
There are some compromises we can’t make. We can’t abandon our faith and salvation in Jesus for our husband to join a false religion, go to a cult, embrace heresy, or worship something/someone other than Jesus (idolatry). We can’t follow him into sin.
We can’t be okay with adultery or a husband who is putting us or our kids in serious danger. If there are major issues in your marriage, please reach out for trustworthy, experienced help. From a pastor, wise counselor, the police, a doctor, or whatever kind of help you need.
There are times when a Christian wife may have to prayerfully consider separation. But there are also many times when that is not necessary. May the Lord give struggling wives the wisdom and discernment to know the difference.