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~So accept each other just as Christ has accepted you; then God will be glorified.~
Ah, this has been a very difficult challenge area in my life recently. With both of us being unemployed and at home, we have stumbled over each other for past few months. In the beginning, I reacted to the differences I had discovered unfolding within my husband on my own terms and limited understanding of them. Each moment of opportunity would seem to flare up in my face and turn into an argument. There were moments when it appeared that we might not make it to the next day married. I kept asking myself, “What AM I doing wrong? Why is he treating me this way? Why doesn’t he listen better?” Then BOOOOOOMMM…it hit me…I was making it all about ME! I was trying to handle it ALL BY MYSELF. Silly me. Silly pride.
I eagerly sought out the Lord’s wisdom and guidance as to how to positively deal with the differences between the both of us. I found the answer within a book I had purchased several years ago [shortly after we were married]. The book is called “20 Rules and Tools for a Great Marriage” by Dr. Steve Stephens.
Here is some excerpts from the book: Rule 2: Accept Differences
“Every couple has its differences. Maybe spender has married a saver. Or a highly structured person is drawn to someone who celebrates spontaneity. Or a collector who likes a certain amount of clutter has married a tosser who draws great joy from clearing away clutter. God clearly has a sense of humor. He made us so that opposites attract. Often, once we get together, we drive each other crazy.
Sometimes it’s easy to let differences get the best of you, and you begin to believe that you’re just too incompatible to make your marriage work. NONSENSE!
We are all incompatible in some are or another. If compatibility were the main criteria for a great marriage, everyone would give up. God knows that balance is important;that’s why he gave you a spouse who is different from you. Thank him for those differences. Don’t try to pressure your partner into thinking of feeling or acting like you do. Instead, make an effort to understand and appreciate the differences.
If you grumble or nag, you will become bitter. If you fight, you will become frustrated. but if you relax and accept the differences as a blessing, you will learn the art of flexibility and compromise. You will grow in maturity, and the texture of your life will become richer. In the end, you will develop into a better person—a person of character and compassion.
Most conflicts are not about major moral or ethical issues but about different preferences. She wants it her way and he wants it his. The Bible asks, “What causes fights and quarrels among you??” In the next verse it answers its own question: “You want something but don’t get it” James 4:1-2, NIV.
As we learn to accept that we won’t always have to have it our way, marriage becomes a lot easier. After a while we realize that most of our fights are either stupid or selfish. As you learn to respect each other’s differences, you’ll find that you aren’t fighting as much and that you’re actually moving closer to each other. As you begin to accept the ways in which you and your spouse are different, you will begin to grow closer together. and as you grow closer, the differences will no longer seem like such a big deal.
Let’s pray together:
Thank you for making my partner just the way he is—with all his strengths and weaknesses and differences. Before the earth was formed you dreamed of my spouse. When the time was right you shaped his soul and watched his life grow into what it is today. It is no accident that the two of us are together. Yet there are days when our togetherness is challenged by our differences. Help me to accept what you have given me. Help me to rejoice in our differences, rather than merely tolerating them. Forgive me for the many times I have been less than respectful—those times I have not paid proper attention or have not acted upon my spouse’s words and ways which were different than my own. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
The next time you have an argument with your spouse, ask yourself, “Is this really about preferences?” Then try to see the issue from your spouse’s perspective. you might even try it their way.
I purchase Christian living books from time to time to refresh and renew basic behavior patterns, understand a certain need, or to deepen my walk. When I was first saved I went to great lengths to search the local Christian bookstore for books to read more about my new relationship with Jesus. In my hunt, I came upon this book, “Dancing in the Arms of God” by Connie Neal. She shares her spiritual journey as the book follows the allegory of the fairy tale Cinderella. I read it with eagerness and with the thrill and anticipation of understanding the commitment to my “Prince Charming” Jesus. It was such a great help to me then.
I recently picked it up after nearly ten years of sitting on a shelf and reread it. One chapter has made a major impression on me this second time reading it through. I have come to a point in my life that caused me to identify with Connie Neal’s testimony. She explains that she keeps herself so busy that she had begun to neglect herself in several areas of her life and how she turned to God with a specific prayer to help her learn to care for herself. Her honesty in sharing reached into my heart and touched an area of my life that I too have neglected the simple caretaking of myself and my home.
One sentence in particular has threaded its way through my mind over and over the last several days: She states: “It is an ongoing commitment. I still pray for God’s help with these desired changes, and I also pray that he will change me within so that these outer changes are genuine expression of what he is doing on within me.”
I personally struggle with my weight and motivation to accomplish the simple tasks of taking care of my home. I so desperately want to change my physical fitness activity into something welcome and healthy. I am exhausted by the mere thought of walking outside to get my mail [which is about 100 feet from house]. I carry far too much weight upon my body and the stress of it is really beginning to show. I am only 46 years old. I move like I am eighty. The sentence above caused me to see myself in a different light than I have seen in a long while. Perhaps, we are not truly ready to change until it is God’s time as well. Or I was not ready to bring that to him.
I have more to share on this subject. I will add to the blog over the next couple days.