In a marriage relationship, knowing and understanding our differences can mean the difference between a successful loving marriage or a failure. Our ability to communicate is greatly hinged on knowing how the other hears. We can not be effective communicators if what we are saying or what we are trying to say is perceived differently by our spouse.
The problem being, we are saying things that make perfect sense to us, but not necessarily to the one we are speaking. We might think we are making a successful point while to our spouse we are not making a point at all, or even worse what we’re saying coming across as something totally different and we don’t even realise it.
Spouses: different by design
God made us totally different and what’s more, He did it on purpose. Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humour?
Marriage can be heaven on earth, or hell itself. Nobody ever starts out with a preconceived idea that the person they are marrying is going to create a living hell for them, but so many times that is exactly what happens. This was not Gods intention from the beginning, yet it is many times the case. If that is the case for you, if you are in a marriage relationship that is floundering, please realise that there is hope.
Communication is a learned skill set. Nobody starts out with all the answers, they have to be learned. In my opinion that is something that takes a lifetime. I believe we never stop learning. We are all in process so we should show grace to one another as this is Gods desire. He shows us grace and we should show one another grace. You may have the attitude that your spouse just doesn’t deserve any more grace from you, but God in His infinite love showed grace to us when we least deserved it. As a matter of fact I believe that Gods desire is to show the world what great grace is through our marriage.
He created us so totally different, yet we can only see through our eyes, not through the eyes of our spouse. We have to learn the way our spouse receives and processes information. We tend to take it for granted that they think like we do when that is just not at all the case.
I had a real revelation in this area a little over 15 years ago. We went to our first marriage conference and I heard this minister talking about how different we are, and for the first time I began to understand some things. At that time we had been married 25 years and I thought I pretty much knew it all. I have since found out that I didn’t know nearly as much as I thought, and had a lot of catching up to do. I have found this same attitude with a lot of couples, especially with the men. The way we communicate is completely different and the way we receive communication is completely different. I’m still learning but thank God for that man. He helped us turn our marriage around.
My wife and I are now certified marriage specialist and we endeavour to help other couples. Our great desire is to help others avoid the snags and pit falls that we went through. I especially like working with pre marriage counselling as we get to help others start out the right way. What an incredible difference that makes. We didn’t get any counselling and it was just by our desire to not get divorced that kept us together. However that did not make a good marriage, we both had to learn.
As I’ve already said, God created us different. I think it is safe to say that we will often try to control and even fear the things we don’t understand and even eventually come to resent.
Gods Word tells us that finding a wife is a blessing from God. A blessing is conditional. With every blessing comes responsibility. We have to know how to take care of the blessing that God has entrusted us. I don’t want it to be said that I opposed the blessing of God, or resented the gift that He gave me, do you? We all have to start somewhere, so let us start by being grateful for the blessing. It is hard to be gracious to an ingrate. It is no different with God. We set ourselves up for failure if we won’t first acknowledge the wonderful gift He has given us.
We must recognise that we are not enemies, there is a war against marriage in our country and around the world, but that war should not be against our spouse. Let us recognise who the real enemy is and that his job is to divide us. If we have the right tools and proper understanding, it will make all the difference in the world.
Likewise you husbands, dwell with them with understanding, giving honour to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered (1 Peter 3:7)
If we don’t know how to do that then we are going to have a hard time. Thank God He didn’t leave us defenseless. Let’s start out by understanding we are not opposites, but we are different. If we do not understand this then we may start to see our spouse as the opposition. They aren’t the opposition, Satan is. Understanding who we are in our God given role is a critical first step.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:27)
He made us man, male and female. That is not making one part of man superior to the other part of man, but we are different parts of man and we have different functions. In today’s society people don’t want to hear this, as it’s become politically incorrect to say any thing to the contrary. That doesn’t mean that it is not true. As we all can see the role of man and wife is getting blurred. Young people are being taught all kinds of crazy things in school that sounds politically correct, yet I believe it’s meant to intentionally confuse. Our children are growing up in a society with no clear roles. No wonder we’re in such a mess! God has given us a distinct purpose on this earth. We each have a job to do. I am not better than my wife or visa a versa, but we are different. Knowing and understanding our differences can mean the difference between success or failure. If we’re not walking in our God-given roles, how are we ever going to fulfil the plan and purpose of God has for our lives?
There is an agenda and our families are at stake, make no mistake about it! There is a lot of science out there saying how different we really are. All you have to do is do a little research and you will see that we see differently, we hear differently, we smell and taste differently, we even can feel differently. Many studies have shown that women are more sensitive to touch. That is not to mention how different our brains work. There lots of scientific studies on this one aspect alone. Wow.
I read one study recently while doing some research that was talking about the science side and the political side of gender difference. This was an older article possible 20 years old, but even back then the people doing these studies were coming up against the politically correctness crowd. This wasn’t a Christian based article, they were just doing scientific research. You have to know who the real enemy is and that he is trying to destroy the family unit.
“So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:6 )
There is a real enemy out there and we must know his tricks and not allow division in our marriage!
We see things differently, we process information differently. Women will use both the left and right sides of their brain at the same time while men typically use only one side at a time. It takes time and patience to learn how we communicate and receive communication from someone who sees things differently. We’ve got to work at it. A great marriage takes work, there are no shortcuts, it doesn’t just happen that way.
You will never mould your spouse into your image. Learn to appreciate the differences instead of resenting them. The Bible says two are better than one. When we come into agreement there is power. If we can’t come into agreement then there is division. Nobody wants that.
My wife and I seldom see things the same. We see things from different perspectives. However because of this we can come together and be better to solve problems and find solutions. We should be a solution oriented unit. Problems are going to come, how are we going to solve them. We must remember that we are not trying to win an argument we are trying to find the solution to the problem, so seeing things from different perspectives and different viewpoints can be a good thing.
Mt. 5:9. You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
We can look at a situation from different ways and come up with a solution. Every problem is not a life or death or a heaven or hell discussion, we should be open and flexible to the solution. Let us get the mind of God together and fix something.
I will say this especially to the guys, be attentive to your wife when she is talking. If you won’t, then many times she will quit talking and you will loose a great resource in your marriage. Beside that you can cause an opening for resentment and resentment can turn into bitterness which is a very hard thing to get rid of. So listen to what she has to say, consider what she has to say. She should know that if she has something to say and is trying to communicate that you care enough to pay attention. If you refuse to pay attention you are refusing the greatest gift God has given you outside of salvation and the Holy Spirit; a gift you NEED by the way. If you are rejecting her you are also rejecting the One who gave her to you. She will pick up on things that you don’t see.
The Bible says there is wisdom in a multitude of counsellors. Remember she has the Spirit of God dwelling in her as well. I saw one study a couple of years ago where 200 couples; one couple at a time was driven down a one mile stretch of road and then asked to write down everything they saw. Women saw approximately 79 things and guys saw approximately 12.
It’s interesting to see just how differently we see. It doesn’t mean guys are not paying attention, but we look at things differently. Guys have a tendency to focus in on specific things where as the ladies are taking it all in. I’ve learned to appreciate our differences and not resent them. We are stronger and better together, than apart, don’t ever forget that! We each have different strengths and different weaknesses and together we are stronger because we will cover each others weaknesses not exploit them. Let us build something together.
It takes grace to take two totally different creatures and bring them together and make them one. God has given us grace for this specific reason.
Matthew 19:5 – ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’
I believe this is a lifelong process, becoming one. It is not easy but the rewards are great as we learn to submit to one another in the fear of the Lord and grow together in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is a powerful truth if we will receive it. Our wives should be a reflection of God and we have a responsibility to help her get there.
We are no longer two but one flesh, we hurt ourselves when we don’t treat our wives right. Our wives are the greatest gift outside of salvation and the Holy spirit that we have, not our children – our wives. So build her up with the word of God. Speak life over her regardless of the circumstances, even if you have to call those things which be not as though they are.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself (Ephesians 5:25)
Pray together and set goals together, she can’t be a helpmate if you don’t know where you are going can she? God will give us direction throughout our life and by His grace enable us to fulfil His will. We have to depend on Him first and on each other second. We are called to succeed and not fail. Just remember this life is a journey on the way to a destination, enjoy it. We are stronger together so we should build one another up and show grace to one another. None of us are perfect, just remember God’s great grace that He has shown to us. Pray for one another daily and build one another up, the stronger you make your spouse the stronger your marriage will become.
When you pray for one another you’re not just thinking kind and wishful thoughts, you’re getting God personally involved in your marriage, and that makes all the difference in the world. I read some statistics that said the divorce rate is approximately one in two, the same for Christians and non Christians alike, however, when couples prayed together and for one another the divorce rate goes from one in two to one in almost twelve hundred. Are you praying for your spouse, are you praying with your spouse? Some people say I’m not good at praying out loud. You don’t have to have elaborate prayers just effective ones, pray according to the Word of God and you can expect answers.
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him (1 John 5:14, 15)
What a powerful Scripture. Get Him involved in your marriage, it’s never too late to start.
After all, that’s His great desire.
As with all things marriage takes work, it doesn’t just happen. There are great rewards and blessings to not only you, but for your children, for generations to come. Amen.
By Mark Baker
Mark was raised a Catholic and was born again at the age of 17. He received God’s call into ministry at the age of 19 and began to prepare for ministry. He graduated from Rhema Bible Training Center in 1979. “The Lord has called me to teach. My desire is to help all that are seeking the truth to come into a deeper understanding of what God has done for us through Christ Jesus. Olive Branch Ministries is an outgrowth of that desire”, says Mark. Please visit his website for more resources to help you on your journey. www.olivebranchministries.us