“A great marriage is not when the perfect couple comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences.”
— Dave Meurer
Our conflicts generally arise out of difference—we don’t see the world the same as our spouse. We do too much around the house and get resentful, or we are accused of not doing enough. From both standpoints it’s about difference; different expectations, standards and ‘agreements’ for living. And there are the things she does that he doesn’t see and vice versa. It’s pretty easy to see difference when it’s pointed out in those terms.
We’re blind somewhat as to the other’s need—their deeper wishes for how things would emerge and develop and flow in relationship.
Because there is no such thing as the perfect couple—the marriage made in heaven—we have to settle for the fact that we’re all wired differently.
That accepted we move on, knowing we’re bound to see and want things differently.
We begin to accept this by:
1. Seeing ourselves as capable of doing the very things that are important to us, so we relieve our partner from our burden on them for doing this. We do it. It’s important to us; not so much is it important to them (which doesn’t make them bad). And our hope is that this is reciprocal—but it’s not our expectation. Then we’re able to sit back and marvel at the contributions we’re making to each other’s life in partnership—as we each complement (add to) each other.
2. Acknowledging that God put us together, not because we were exactly the same; though we had so much in common initially. No, he put us in union for the very matter of adding to us as individuals—that both partners would grow to love the fact that they can help the other in ways we cannot really do for ourselves.
3. Wondering within the differences as to how many separate and distinct views of life can be had. We get past our own eyes, and our own ears no longer drown our concentration for the sounds going on in our heads; we hear other sounds more distinctly and they help us to appreciate the sheer enormity of life beyond the self—a freeing reality that takes us on into beautiful humility.
4. Immersing ourselves in the world of difference, to the point that we take risks by doing things differently, just for the raw experience of it. Being open enough to try things is being open enough to see God in the world.
Differences are usually the point of conflict in marriage: “If only he’d see things the way I do... if only she’d keep the home the way I like it.” We polarise and get nowhere. Entering into the majesty of difference helps sweep the conflict aside. There is wonder in difference, and growth, too. God has good things stored in difference.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.