Living with Differences by Barbara Rainey

Philippians 2:2
Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.

It’s one thing to acknowledge that differences make you strong as a couple, but it’s another to figure out how to live with those differences! Here are a few suggestions:

Pray for yourself. Ask God to examine your attitudes and motives and to give you a greater capacity to understand, accept and even appreciate your mate’s differences.

When we were first married, Dennis’s free spirit and impulsiveness tended to drive my disciplined nature crazy. I felt that we had no schedule, no budget and no regular devotions.

I remember praying diligently for God to change all the things in Dennis I didn’t like. Then I realized my attitude needed to be changed. In time I began to see how much I needed his spontaneity to balance my more rigid control.

Talk about differences with your mate. Tell him you are not rejecting him and that you remain committed. If you find that your mate is not emotionally prepared to discuss a touchy issue, leave the subject alone.

If your mate is willing to talk about a difference that is bothering you, share your feelings without accusing him and pointing the finger of blame. Let him know you realize you’re not perfect and that you understand him, or want to understand him, in this area.

If your mate considers a difference to be a weakness, ask if you can help. Then, at the end of your discussion, remind your mate again of your commitment and acceptance. We call this the “bookend principle.” Just as bookends are used to prop up books that contain truth, so your reminders of love and complete acceptance at both ends of the discussion will support the truth of what you have said. And it makes the truth a whole lot easier to hear!

Prayer:
For the ability to discuss differences openly without being defensive or feeling threatened.

Discuss:
How do your differences make you stronger as a couple? Your spouse’s?

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