When Mark and I started dating it was our differences that attracted us to one another. It only took about six months of marriage for those same differences to tick us off! In fact, many of us spend the duration of our marriages trying to change our spouses rather than valuing the ways God created him or her differently.

I certainly fall into that category. I fell in love with a dreamer -- a man with a vision. I married a man who rarely pays attention to detail. I fell in love with a coffee connoisseur. I married a man who leaves coffee spills all over the kitchen floor. Do you see how our perspectives change?

Ogden Nash once said, "Marriage is the alliance of two people, one of whom never remembers birthdays and the other never forgets them." Often this is the crux of our marriage frustrations: differing priorities. We are truly different from each other and if we don't allow our differences to complement one another, they'll rip us apart.

When Mark and I found ourselves in marriage counseling after hitting rock bottom, we began a new marriage "internship". We really didn't understand marriage and we certainly didn't understand one another. During that phase of restoration, I began repeating the phrase, "He's not wrong, he's just different," many times throughout the day. Mark swears he often heard me saying it under my breath with clenched teeth. But the truth is, this shifted my thinking. I let go of pride and judgment. And I realized there is more than one way to process decisions, express love, and meet someone else's needs.

Dave Meurer, author of Daze of Our Wives puts it this way, "God has made each one of us to be unique. A great marriage is not when the 'perfect couple' comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences."

We are imperfect and we do need to learn to enjoy our differences. But first, we have to understand how God has created us differently.

Temperaments

In marriage, we usually find one person who is more of an extrovert and one who is more introverted. We usually find one who is passive and one who is more aggressive. We find one who is a thinker and one who is a feeler. None of these distinctions are right or wrong -- they are simply different.

In our home, Mark is the feeler and I am the thinker. I know that in many marriages the wife takes the role of the feeler and the husband plays the thinker. So much for generalities! There are always exceptions to the rules. When Mark and I are faced with a decision, I'm the one looking for the facts and the details. He's processing it based upon how he feels.

Each of us needs to value the way God wired us, differences included. Sometimes facts are needed to make a good decision or to sort out a situation. In those times, Mark has learned to trust my investigative tendencies. At other times, Mark may sense the deeper levels of a situation. When that happens, I have learned to trust his intuitions rather than discount them simply because they lack facts. He and I are made differently, yet our differences -- used together -- actually make us stronger.

You and I have to stop fighting our spouse's differences and begin to celebrate them! We find joy in our relationship when we can truly say, "Thank you God for giving me a husband/wife who has strengths that make my life richer!"

Love Languages

In the beginning of our marriage Mark would sometimes stop at the floral shop and buy a bouquet of flowers for me. It was a thoughtful gesture. However, I always felt like it was a waste of our hard-earned money. I didn't want him to buy me things; I just wanted him to spend time with me!