Conflict in marriage is normal. We are self-centered, selfish people and we think we are right. Our goal in marriage is not to become conflict-free but to learn how to manage conflict in a healthy way.
“I never knew how different we are. The longer we are married the more our differences seem to surface. And they cause conflict! Is this normal? What’s the matter with us? What can we do about it?”
One of the causes of conflict is our differences. We have gender differences, personality differences, and many other differences.
When I fell in love with John, I was attracted to his sense of stability. He was solid, predictable. I could count on him. He made me feel secure. I, on the other hand, am more spontaneous. I like surprises and fun. After being married for a while his stability seemed boring! I longed for him to initiate some spontaneous fun.
Enter frustration–for both of us.
I had to accept the fact that we are different in this area. Instead of expecting him to initiate, I had to be the one who planned fun things. It was not fair to try to change him. Most importantly I learned to be grateful for his stability and to focus on this.
I tend to see things in black and white. He sees in gray. I am decisive and he likes to mull things over. I am a visionary, full of ideas; often too many for him.
Differences can irritate or could they compliment each other?
I had to realize that my man is wise and seems to know what is an appropriate idea for this time and what is not. I dump my ideas on him and trust him to sort through them. Because he mulls things over he can protect me from making a quick wrong decision and he is a good sounding board. He, on the other hand, needs my decisiveness and my creativity.
After 47 years of marriage, we have learned and are still learning how to make our differences work together for good. We are growing as individuals and as a couple.
Picture a large jigsaw puzzle:
Multiple pieces, different sizes, and shapes which have to fit carefully together to make a beautiful picture. Each piece of the puzzle is distinct, different with a specific place in which to fit. Building a marriage is a lot like putting a puzzle together, one piece at a time. It takes a lifetime. But it would be so boring if it came all put together! Be patient. God has made you different. He has the final picture in mind.
Because we are always growing, it won’t be finished this side of heaven. However, He will make it beautiful as we allow Him to mold us into the couple He has created us to be.
In His Grace,
Mom to 5 children (including twins!), grandma to 21 (including quadruplets!), and married to her husband, John, for 47 years. She has written 13 books and speaks on marriage, parenting, and women’s issues. Her favorite time of the year is June when all her kids and grandkids are together for a week of “cousins and family camp” in the foothills of the Shenandoah Mountains of Virginia. You can read more from Susan on her personal blog. Or visit her on Facebook.