Giving Credit for Differences in Marriage

Marriage is the bringing together of two very different people in the attempt at creating what the Bible calls “one flesh”. There in, however, lies the challenge that keeps many marriages from thriving.

If you are a parent of multiple children, then you know how different your children are, even when raised in the same house with the same parents. How much more so the blending of two people from different family backgrounds and life experiences, that also happens to be anatomically different. Marriage is tough many times because of those differences.

One very simple practice (at least in theory) that will dramatically improve the communication and working relationship between a couple, is when the man and woman begin to give credit for who the other person is, who they are wired to be.  When the differences are understood and valued rather than criticized and battled, the marriage is strengthened rather than hindered by those differences.

One example in my marriage is that I will never be as deeply emotional about life as Cheryl is. I can wish that I were, Cheryl can pray that I will be, but most likely Cheryl is always going to be the more emotional one of us. In the same way, Cheryl will most likely never see life from the rational perspective that I see it. I can get frustrated about it, try to force reality on her, but when she is emotional about an issue, she is not likely to see the black and white of life that I see. While this is challenging in building the relationship and often causes conflict, if we allow those differences to balance us rather than separate us, the differences have proven countless times to be a blessing to our marriage.

This does not mean that the person, for instance, that is intentionally hurtful should continue to be hurtful without attempting to change, but it does mean that the core being of who we are should be taken into consideration in building a healthy relationship. When differences are appreciated rather than fought against, it improves communication, limits tension, and strengthens the relationship. You will likely spend a lifetime together continuing to explore differences…make the journey fun rather than disruptive.

What are some ways you and your spouse are different? What are some ways you can make those differences work for your marriage rather than against it?

Share some of what you’ve learned here so we can learn from your experience.

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16 thoughts on “Giving Credit for Differences in Marriage

  1. I wonder if this article applies to my problem. My spouse has a real problem with saying he's sorry and admitting when he's wrong. He'll either shut down altogether or he will give reasons for committing the wrong normally as a justification. The wrong's are normally very petty things like telling a white lie or unintentionally killing a moment. Nothing I would generally be too upset about, but still I just wish he would just simply say he's sorry as a way of letting me know that he recognizes how he may have made me feel. His mom says that's the way he has always been and all this time I have been trying to get him to change this about himself, but should I just accept this as his nature?

  2. Our problem is that we can't sem to communicate effectively. Just a minute ago we were having a conversation and I felt like he was trying to put me down while I was trying to build myself up. So when I asked him about his comment he said he didn't know what I was talking about and I was going off topic.. but then 10 minutes later tells me that he lied about me being off topic just so I wouldn't prove a point and think he was trying to put me down. When in fact he did realize how I could have taken his comment the wrong way…..But instead of him just saying that the comment wasn't intended to put me down he made up a lie of a story about how I wasn't understanding the conversation anyway and how he didn't know what I was talking about.. He is so immature I can't stand him. We are currently only engaged… I will try to started praising him for his differences but I garuntee he is going to put me down. Like when I can't remember things he calls me Dorey (the fish that couldn't remember things on Finding Nemo). I dont like that especially when he is dumb as a door knob most of the time.

    • You obviously both need counseling to learn to communicate. You're very different people … God designed…and must learn to let those differences work for you rather than against. Praying for you.
      Twitter: Ronedmondson

  3. I was confident that both Kenny and I came into this marriage with no delusions, willing to accept one another's peculiaries, but I wanted to be able to pinpoint exactly what it is about me that he chooses to overlook. So I asked him, "What is it about me that drives you bonkers but that you, in your wisdom, choose to tolerate?" He answered, "I, in my wisdom, would never answer a question like that, which is right up there with, 'Honey, does this make me look fat?'"

  4. My wife, Amy, and I will be married for 15 years this July. Best and craziest 15 years of our lives. Who knew that putting two incredibly anal yet completely different people together would be such an adventure.

    I love my wife now more than ever in part to exactly what you are saying. I have to learn to love our differences, even if I think I'm right and she needs to change. She is more of the thinker than I am. I run on emotions and she doesn't as much. She is much more type A and I will never be. For a long time I fought against it. I would swing from thinking that she is wrong and needs to change to there is something wrong with me and God really screwed up.

    As we have walked through life and ministry together I continue to see the way God so perfectly put us together to accomplish His will. We still might drive each other nuts (and other people nuts too) but this is how God made us and so long as we aren't walking in sinful lifestyles we are fine.

    I love my wife and exactly who God made her to be. I continue to quote Proverbs 31:29 to her (even though she thinks I'm a little corny). It says "Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all." I mean that.

  5. LOL You and Cheryl are like Deane and me – except opposite! Deane is the one who runs on emotion and I am the one analyzing everything. Sometimes he pulls me forward and sometimes I rein him in. It balances most of the time.

  6. Ron,

    As a long time lurker (seldomly commenting) thank you for these posts on marriage. This particular point has been an eye opener over the past year for my wife and I. After almost ten years, we are finally learning to accept one another for what God has created us to be. It has created opportunities for us to grow closer and deepen our relationship.

    I enjoy your blog so very much, especially when you speak on leadership (my favorite topic). Thanks for freely pouring wisdom into others.

    • Thank you Jonathan for posting this time. Quite honestly, I've been tempted to skip these Monday Marriage Moments, because I haven't received much feedback, yet over the years I know whenever I speak on marriage people ask for more. Not because I'm an expert, you should know, but because it is so needed. Thanks for your encouragement today!
      Twitter: Ronedmondson