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
For some reason, God chose to put his image into a man and a woman. He created us different in virtually every way! But today’s blog isn’t as much about our differences as how those differences impact our marriage and impact us. This week’s “Family in 60 Seconds” video series is about the same topic. You can check them out HERE.
As husbands and wives when we come to the marriage, we are different. Our differences get exposed and we decide we have marriage problems. Today we want to celebrate those differences and recognize them as God’s plan! But that’s easier said than done.
When I took an honest look at myself, I had to admit I was selfish. Before I was married I was single and selfish. Then I got married and now I’m married and selfish. But if I approach these differences between Kelli and me through the lens of my selfishness; like James 4 warns us, it leads to quarrels and fights.
But if we believe God created us male and female… if we believe God designed marriage… if we believe marriage is the image bearer of Christ and the church… then we must go counter to our selfishness and be selfless. The good news is if we do that, not only do we get oneness in our marriage, but as a bonus we become more like Jesus.
You don’t believe me? Consider this example. Remember, we are talking generalities here. And yes, we know there are exceptions to these differences, but generally speaking these tend to be true.
Difference: In an average day, men speak about twelve thousand words and women speak about twenty-four thousand words.
Challenge: Tom comes home at the end of his day. He’s used up all of his words for that day. His wife Sara has been home all day. She’s hardly begun using all her words for that day.
Selfish Interaction – Tom immediately goes to his room to change and hide out for a while. Sara comes after Tom to ask about his day. Tom just wants to “veg” out. Sara really wants to talk. Tom gives her a couple of one and two word responses. “Great.” “Really well.” Pretty soon Tom is irritated at all the questions. Sara is upset at Tom’s avoidance. Things escalate and pretty soon they are in an all out fight!
So the question is, “Who’s right?” But that’s the wrong question. As long as it is an issue of who’s right, Tom and Sara are in trouble. From their wiring, based on the way God created them, Tom and Sara are each responding correctly. Tom will forever tend towards disengaging and “chillin’”. Sara, by nature, will always tend towards verbal processing.
When they face a financial problem as a family, it’s likely Tom will want to sit quietly and ponder the issue until he comes up with a game plan. Meanwhile, it wouldn’t be surprising if Sara wanted to talk it out. It’s not unusual for a husband and wife to discover their natural inclination in everyday life issues run completely opposite to the other.
And if we follow our selfish desires, then we will expect our partner to understand my need to have peace and quiet… or my need to talk about what’s going on! But this is a beautiful opportunity to die to self and serve our spouse. Tom can serve Sara by coming home and saying, “Honey, give me a minute to change and then I’ll come out so we can talk about our day.” Of course Sara can serve Tom by saying, “Sweetheart, I know you’re tired. I can’t wait to hear about your day, but why don’t you change and relax for a bit and we can visit later.”
Shanti Feldhahn in her recent book, The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages, points out that happy couples do fight, but they tend to fight about who can serve the other. So if Tom and Sara were one of those happy couples they would insist on serving the other. That’s a happy fight!!!
But here’s what happens that’s beautiful. As they live life and face everyday challenges, Sara will be Sara and Tom will be Tom. So Sara will want to verbally process and Tom will want to ponder. But if they will invite the influence of the other; they will become more like Jesus. Because Tom will become more like Sara and gain from the benefit of talking it out. And Sara will become more like Tom and learn to quiet herself and hear the voice of the Lord before she speaks.
And this is just one small example of how God can use our spouse’s differences to make us more like Jesus! If we’re willing to die to self and serve our spouse!