It’s been said that “opposites attract.” Whether or not it’s true, many people do find they are quite different from their spouse. During the dating stage, this realization of distinctly opposing preferences and opinions likely brought some laughter and fun.
Something changes a few years into a marriage, however. Even for the husband and wife that are similar in many ways – the slightest differences in perspective, desires, or lifestyle can create tension, problems, and frustration.
It’s not hard to understand why our dissimilarity creates trouble. We all want things how we want them, and when something (or someone) gets in the way of what we want, it bugs us (to say the least). If we are honest with ourselves, we know our selfishness runs deep and prioritizing our spouse’s desires can clash with our self-interest.
To address this issue, much could be said about selfless love, sacrificial kindness, and humility…but we will save those for another time. For today, I wonder if we can simply learn to see these differences as more of a blessing than a curse.
The Beauty of Marital Discrepancies
If you and your husband always agreed, always liked the same things, always got along…well, that would be nice. But you know what that would not be good for? Growing you. Challenging you. Refining you. Proverbs 27:17 says,
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
The subject of this proverb is not specifically related to marriage, but the idea is: we can benefit, or become more “sharp,” from our interactions with others. And I would argue that this “sharpening” can happen exponentially in marriage.
In fact, a stronger statement might be appropriate for marriage. Maybe, a statement such as: Like sandpaper to rough wood, so is one spouse to another.
I bet you can picture that…the way your husband can be like the coarse, scratchy, rubbing of sandpaper in your life. No one likes that feeling! Nonetheless, it is a good thing. Because you and I have some areas that we need smoothed out. We have selfishness, impatience, laziness, irritability (to name a few) hiding in the recesses of our hearts – and the struggles of marriage bring these issues to the surface. We are forced to look our sinfulness in the face, and hopefully – deal with it.
When Less is Not More
In one sense, the more you and your husband are opposites, the more godly you can become.
Look at the situation from the outside. Picture a friend who is married to a man entirely different from her. Let’s say he wants family time to run differently than she does. His idea of a vacation is incompatible with hers. He would like her to cook different meals than she desires to make. Their temperaments are opposite. They like to do totally different things on their off days. And let’s just get real here – their sex drive is at opposite ends of the spectrum. With all that said, she has countless ways to put herself aside and love her husband sacrificially.
Your friend is getting to workout massive spiritual muscles. Imagine the godliness she will exude if she is willing to work at not being selfish, impatient, lazy, or irritable when a conflict of interest arises. (Note: She may actually look more godly if she wasn’t facing these constant conflicts of interest, but that’s just because the sin in her heart isn’t being forced to the surface.)
Enough about your friend — how about you? I imagine, in your marriage there are some ways you are quite different from your husband. It would be easier if there were no conflict of interest, but that would mean you never get the opportunity to refine the recesses of your heart.
Hence, our differences can be more of a blessing than a curse. In eternity, we will be truly thankful for whatever tools God used to make us more holy. In other words, we will be thankful marriage wasn’t simply smooth sailing!
Thankful for Sandpaper!
No doubt you are familiar with the perspective the book of James gives on trials. James 1:2-4 says,
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Our marital discrepancies could certainly be considered a trial. Trials that we can find joy in. And if we can persevere in godliness through them, we can work out all our “rough spots.” For, like sandpaper to rough wood, so is one spouse to another. While it is never fun, the sandpaper our husbands provide (by simply being different) is a great benefit to our lives.
Next time you get worked up or frustrated because you don’t see eye to eye with your spouse, remember it is actually a blessing. In fact, if you are one of those people who really did marry an opposite, you are extra blessed — you have countless opportunities to grow, to be challenged, to be refined. And you will be forever grateful you were.