How Differences with Your Spouse Can Make Your Marriage Stronger

I hear it all the time. “My husband [or wife] doesn’t understand me. We are so different. We don’t really have anything in common.”

Apples and Oranges - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/bluestocking, Image #3501504

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/bluestocking

When I first met Gail, I was attracted to her precisely because she was different. Sadly, after a few years, these same differences started to annoy me. In fact, I began to think that my approach to live was right and hers wrong.

I then did what any loving husband would do. I tried to fix her—to make her more like me. And she did the same. Not surprisingly, this led to several years of conflict.

What we forgot was that there’s a reason opposites attract–because it’s good for us.

Think about it. If you married someone just like you, then

  • You wouldn’t have to grow.
  • You wouldn’t have to get out of your comfort zone.
  • You wouldn’t have to enter into someone else’s world.

Instead, differences are precisely what you need to become the person God created you to be. As Solomon noted, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend” (Proverbs 27:17, NLT).

Differences can add richness, depth, and texture to your marriage. If you embrace them.

Your differences can be your biggest asset as a couple—if you learn how to use them. Here are three steps for doing so.

  1. Identify your differences. You know you are different than your spouse, but that is not enough. I am talking about more specificity. In what ways are you different?

    For example, Gail and I are the exact opposite on each of the Myers-Briggs types. I am an INFJ. She is an ESTP. This means:

    • We approach the world differently. I prefer introversion; she prefers extraversion (note: this is the way the word is spelled in the Myers-Briggs literature).
    • We gather information differently. I prefer intuition; she prefers sensing.
    • We make decisions differently. I prefer feeling; she prefers thinking.
    • We approach structure differently. I prefer judging; she prefers perceiving.

    According to StrengthsFinder test, we have completely different strengths. Mine are:

    • Achiever
    • Intellection
    • Strategic
    • Futuristic
    • Relator

    Gail’s are:

    • Positivity
    • Woo
    • Developer
    • Connectedness
    • Adaptability

    From these tests—and 33 years of observing her—I know the specific ways that we are different.

  2. Acknowledge your differences. It’s not enough to identify your differences and then file away what you’ve observed. No, you must acknowledge these—and celebrate them—in real time.

    Let me give you a practical example. As an extravert (again, the Myers-Briggs spelling), Gail draws her energy from being with people. As an introvert, people wear me out. I prefer being alone.

    But because we love one another, we make sure that help the other person get what they need. Tonight we are going to a dinner party. I would prefer to stay home and read, but I know Gail needs to connect with others to remain emotionally healthy. (I need it too; I just don’t always recognize the need.)

    On the other hand, she knows I can’t be with people every night or I will burnout. So, because she loves me, she sometimes chooses to stay home so I can re-charge. (She also needs this; she just doesn’t always recognize it.)

  3. Leverage your differences. Differences are not something to be resented. They are something to celebrate and use.

    Think of it this way: If Gail and I were exactly the same on the Myers-Briggs results, we would only have four tools at our disposal. But since we are completely opposite, we have eight. It’s as if we have more colors on our palette with which to paint the canvas of our lives!

    The real test of this is in making decisions. As a “J,” I like an orderly, structured world. I want to make decisions quickly and get them behind me.

    Gail is just the opposite. She doesn’t have the same need for structure. She wants to explore all the options. She prefers to have her decisions in front of her.

    Let to myself, I can be impulsive, making decisions I later regret. Let to herself, Gail can procrastinate, missing opportunities she later regrets. Together, we ensure that we explore all our options but then make a decision.

King Solomon once observed,

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. (Ecclesiastes 4:9–10, NKJV).

We usually think of this in terms of friendship, but it applies equally to marriage.

You weren’t attracted to your spouse by accident. What if God led you to him or her because He knew precisely what you needed to realize your full potential.

Question: What do your differences make possible for your marriage? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

    Our differences give us a broader spectrum to approach our neighbors and friends.  Our differences balance my strong desire to plan with my wife’s desire to be more spontaneous.  Our differences give us a better leg to stand on when raising our children.  Our differences give us a much better life.  I’m so thankful for my wife and for the way God made us different.

    • Rachel Lance

      Great perspective, Jon. It is our differences that remind us how we are indeed fearfully and wonderfully made. Have you identified, with your wife, particular differences to celebrate?

      • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

        Good question…

        I think we have in different areas of our lives.  For example from a financial perspective, I’m the tight wad (nerd – as Dave Ramsey would say), and my wife is more generous and free spirited.  I think we are learning to balance each other out.  I have helped her to become more financially stable, and she has helped me to become more generous.

      • Ben

        once identified then take advantage

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      I love the use of the word “balance.”  Very fitting. 

  • http://www.christianfaithatwork.com Chris Patton

    I had similar experience to yours with conflict in the early years of our marriage (now at 17 years!).  I will add one difference that I found to be earth-shattering for me – we have different Love Languages.

    In his book, The 5 Love Languages, Gary Chapman talks about how we each speak a different language in the way we try to tell people we love them (and the way we hear, “I love you” from them.  

    My love language is words of affirmation.  That means I use affirming words to tell my wife I love her.  I also need to hear those same kind of words from her to know that she loves me.  This is all fine and well if she has the same language!

    The problem is that her language is acts of service.  So she does various acts like cleaning, cooking, etc. to tell me she loves me.  And she needs me to do similar acts to hear from me that I love her.

    If you are not aware of these differences, it can make for some very confusing conversations around the house!  She is busting her tail around the house and I am telling her how good she is doing, but neither of us hears the other saying, “I love you!”

    Once the light came on after reading the book, it is amazing the change in conversation.  Now I am busting my tail around the house and she is telling me how good I am doing!  Either this is a conspiracy to get men to help around the house or it really works!

    Either way, embracing the differences is the only way to make it work!

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Thanks for sharing your experience. Great to hear an example from the “Love Languages”. I’ve yet to check that out, but I probably should.

      • http://www.christianfaithatwork.com Chris Patton

        Jason, if you are married, I promise you will not regret doing so.  

        I was stunned to see that all of my efforts at saying “I love you” were going unheard.  We are both believers, have hearts for God, and wanted our marriage to be strong.  Unfortunately, we were speaking different languages and not communicating at all…and this was after 10 years of marriage!I now keep 5 or 6 copies of the book in my office to give to employees or friends as needed.  Really good stuff!

        • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

          I am and love it!

        • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

          Chris, I completely agree on Love Languages.  Crazy good. 

      • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

        Jason, the Love Language book is really a quick read, and then you take the little quiz, and voila, you have a better understanding of each other.  I highly recommend it.

      • http://www.facebook.com/BrentJohnson1959 Brent Lowell Johnson

        I highly recommend the love languages book. 

        • http://www.FaithfulChoices.com/ Paula

          Me too, but I would view it as an over arching idea because many of our love language styles overlap into one another.  It helps to open our eyes to attempts we may have missed without necessarily boxing ourselves into one arena.

    • Rachel Lance

      Yes! The 5 Live Languages are so simple and unassuming but make such an impact. I have to confess they seem to have fallen off my radar. Time to reread the book – thanks for the reminder!

    • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

      Hi Chris, I just left a similar comment, as my husband and I had different languages as well.  But by learning each other’s language, we can feel the love no matter what language we are speaking.  Great point!

    • http://www.facebook.com/BrentJohnson1959 Brent Lowell Johnson

      Hi Chris, my wife are exactly the same as you 2.  I am words of affirmation and she is acts of service.  Sometimes we have enjoyed the differences and sometimes it is frustrating.  But I sit back and am so blessed by the differences and love the way she is. 

      On another note, when we were first married, she used to talk to me a mile a minute when I got back from work.  I would not respond to her and she would think I was mad.  She figured out over a period of time that if she just sat next to me for 5-10 minutes, I would start chattering with her after I had post processed my day. 

      So many differences.  I wouldn’t want to be the same at all.  That would be boring!  Great comments!

      • http://www.christianfaithatwork.com Chris Patton

        Brent, my wife does the exact same thing! I have tried to do a better job of processing my day on the short ride home and now she gives me another 3-5 minutes (usually!) before she opens the fire hydrant of words. It’s not perfect, but it works most of the time!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      It’s a great resource in parenting, as well as marriage. Changes how each family member relates to and understands one another.

  • http://twitter.com/blissfulE Elisa

    Such a great, affirming look at marriage! I’m also an INFJ, and my husband and I have the same sorts of differences you mention. Embracing them makes both of us stronger.

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    Getting married. Now there’s a thought that has yet to occur to me. I’m still chasing after my dream of perfect solitude, something I’ve never been able to afford for extended periods of time. Parents, roommates—somebody always has another key to the premises I live in and keeps walking in and out. Drives me absolutely crazy. If I went from this state to being all-out married, I think I’d shoot myself. 

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      I understand the sentiment, but there is a huge payoff.

    • Karyn

      Single life is a Mercedes Benz. Enjoy it. Treasure it. And only trade it in when/if you find a Rolls Royce.

      • http://www.FaithfulChoices.com/ Paula

        Why trade it in when you can fix up that Mercedes?  Good stuff like that will take you a long way.  Don’t get distracted by the glimmer out your window.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      You’re right. Marriage is a huge transition. It’s something you need to be sure you’re ready for. But there is a huge payoff for being married.

      The companionship. The love shared. The gain of more family. And more.

      But if it’s not for you, it’s not for you.

      • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

        My point wasn’t that marriage is a huge transition. On the contrary. In my case, it’s the potential minuteness rather than the enormity of such a “transition” that freaks me out. It would be going from one state of no solitude to another state of no solitude, when solitude (defined as “living alone”) is what I crave the most. I’m almost having a panic attack when I hear stuff like “more family,” even though I’m an only child and my family was always rather smallish to begin with. I guess I’m just a hermit by nature.

  • http://www.frymonkeys.com Alan Kay

    Great post. My wife and I recognized our differences through Myers-Briggs testing many years ago. 

    The differences between us is the one that we’ve worked on the most. This means that we have periods of conflict, but always work through them when they arise. It doesn’t always work, but we always make some sort of progress. The result is a great deal of love.   

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Congrats on taking the steps to improve your marriage Alan! Understanding your differences can lead to greater intimacy.

  • http://missionallendale.wordpress.com/ Joey Espinosa

    Probably my favorite book on marriage is “What Did You Expect??” (Tripp). He also talks about this principle, that God uses our marriage to grow us and help us depend on Him.

    When my wife and I are in conflict, that is an opportunity for MYSELF to trust in the Gospel.

    Yeah, that’s not easy, to realize that even when I think the problem is in my wife, it’s ultimately about me and my heart.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Thanks for sharing the book recommendation Joey. I checked it out on Amazon and it looks like it has received great reviews.

      • http://missionallendale.wordpress.com/ Joey Espinosa

        You’re welcome! Enjoy!

  • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

    Our differences give our children the opportunity to see what it means to work together.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      My son is only 4 months old, but I can tell that is going to be huge as he gets older.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Indeed. It is critical that they learn this, because they will face similar situations throughout life. Thanks for sharing that.

      • http://tonychung.ca/ Tony Chung

        Yes. I agree. One of the strengths of both my wife’s and my families is that even though they don’t yet profess faith in Christ, they believe in the sanctity of marriage and stick through it all to the end. Contrast this to a number of my church friends’ marriages where one of the partners’ parents didn’t stick together. Most of them are now divorced.

    • http://www.cheriblogs.info Cheri Gregory

      So true. 

      They also help us understand our children in ways we might not if we only had our own perspective. Our daughter is a lot like me, so I don’t have to work very hard to “get” her. 

      In relating to our son, however, I’ve had to draw deeply from my knowledge/ experience of my husband. And I always wanted “You’re so like your father!” to be a fond affirmation of a particular God-given trait, never a statement of resentment or rejection. 

      • http://tonychung.ca/ Tony Chung

        I love how my boys desire to “be like dad.” They keep comparing the many ways we’re the same. I want to live with the type of character and integrity so that when they’re teenagers they will still look up to me, and consider it a compliment when others catch traces of me in them.

        • http://www.cheriblogs.info Cheri Gregory

          I’ve been hanging out with teenagers daily for over two decades, now, and I can tell you that no matter how they act during their teen years, they desperately crave their parent’s attention and blessing. 

          By planning ahead, you are already giving them both.

  • Leonard

    In great marriages the couple build their relationship. In mediocre or
    failed marriages couples describe the relationship as something they have rather than invest in and
    co-create. The secret to successful management of relationships lies in the
    word “build”. To build successfully, you need to have a clear plan. This plan
    needs to be based on what both participants want.

    While one hopes that Providence will provide
    the material wherewithal, the actual process of building is the responsibility
    of the couple and cannot be left to anything outside of their personal agency
    and power.

    Good marriages are created and have to be
    consciously maintained, they do not just happen – regardless of the
    appropriateness or otherwise of the match. But many people grow up in homes
    which often did not exemplify or model the type of relationship that they wish
    to create, and so they did not experience and were not educated in how to
    create or maintain long-term, committed, intimate relationships.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      “Good marriages are created.” That is wisdom my friend. A happy, healthy, and vibrant marriage requires work. I might even tweak it a bit to say that marriages are hammered and forged…

      • http://recreationalwordslinger.wordpress.com/ RecreationalWordSlinger

        I like the visual of “hammered and forged”…very true!

      • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

        Great word, Jason. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I like this insight very much. It is true.

  • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

    My wife and I have always had a difference of opinion. It started with theology and it continues today with proper chip dipping etiquette. We’ve explored our differences to nth degree and have come out on the other side because we’ve made a commitment to consistently be open with one another.

    As husbands and wives, I think we need to be ruthless about talking and working through perceived differences. Through these conversations, the relationship will grow stronger and together you’ll discover how to maximize your collective gifts.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Love that you guys have a chip dipping dispute. My wife and I disagree over the proper way to hang the toilet paper. Does the new sheet come up and over or does it go behind and down?

      • http://www.cheriblogs.info Cheri Gregory

        It all depends on whether you have cats!

        • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

          Haha… Well, no cats in our household. I’m guesing cats would make it behind and down?

          For me, it’s up and over. 

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        My wife discovered (with research to back it up) that you use less if it comes from behind and down.  I don’t know where she comes up with this stuff, or why someone would study how much toilet paper gets used by various people, but they did, and my wife found it.  Her reasoning:  With five kids, we need to save every penny we can!

        • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

          That said, I like the TP installed the other way, but I gave in to her wishes on this one…

          • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

            I can’t believe that my wife and I are not the only one to have the toilet paper “discussion.” Thanks Jeff, this made my night. ha.

        • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

          Interesting. I wonder if it’ because pulling it from the top is easier? Less breakage, etc…

          If there is less used, I may have to concede and ask her to do it her way. Always looking for new ways to save money.

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            Lol!

        • http://tonychung.ca/ Tony Chung

          It actually makes sense that when the paper is rolled under then the housing gets in the way, causing premature ripping. That would account for using less. I had a friend with a strange condition where her skin was brittle and chunked off whenever her hand brushed against the apparatus.

          Another familiar debate is the “folder vs wadder”.

          Sorry, Michael, for perpetuating a borderline scatological discussion on your blog comments.

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            Pretty sad, how our conversations can degenerate…  Lol!

      • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

        Joe, Us too!  Nice to not be alone. 

    • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

      As long as neither of you double dip, I think either way is fine.  ;-)

    • http://recreationalwordslinger.wordpress.com/ RecreationalWordSlinger

      We don’t have the chip issue…or toilet paper issue…but we do have: TOOTHPASTE ISSUES! He squeezes from the middle, and I squeeze from the bottom. Everyone knows that’s the best way to get the most out of your tube. ;)

      • http://henryfiallo.wordpress.com/ Enrique Fiallo

        Solved that one. 2 tubes!

      • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

        I’m a middle squeezer too. Maybe a guy thing? But once the toothpaste gets low, I squeeze every last bit out of the tube.

  • http://www.thadthoughts.com/ Thad P

    Differences, as you note, can frequently be the strengths in another person.  In our case, my wife is best bargainer/negotiator I have ever met.  When we lived in Asia, she was the one who did the “haggling” for the best price.  Works the same here when we make major purchases.  In a marriage, differences should be the complimentary aspects of each individual in a greater whole.

  • Vwmashni

    Awesome and timely post!

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Glad you enjoyed the post! 

  • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    This is an important distinction. Thanks for sharing it.

  • http://gailbhyatt.wordpress.com/ Gail Hyatt

    We are SO different, aren’t we? You know what they say, “If it doesn’t kill you, it will make you stronger.”

    Whew. It’s made us stronger. 

    I love you with all my heart!

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Gail, that quote is a great reminder.  

    • http://tonychung.ca tonychung

      And there you have verification right from the source! Gail, you and Michael are so perfect for each other!

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        We are indeed blessed!

  • http://www.sheliamullican.com/ Shelia

    Amen and Amen!! Mike and I had a similar trajectory. Loved the differences. Hated the differences. Tried to fix. Then, slowly, agonizingly, learned to love the differences again. But for different reasons.

    Because they challenge and provoke, they season and enliven and give color, and sometimes, they just make us laugh.

    Thank you for your words. And for the winsome way you and Gail live this out day after day.

  • Karyn

    No-one in their right minds would have matched me with my husband. But we both knew that we were right for each other. I expressed concern to one pastor about the number of people who told us how incompatible we were and he said love isn’t about compatibility, it’s about commitment. I rather like that idea. When I have finished fizzing and popping and bouncing off the walls, I find him right where I left him. He is my rock and my safe place. And I add a little zest to his life. We’ve been married for 24 years now.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      You make a great and valid point Karyn. When we married we made a commitment. That is something many people have forgotten. It’s not always about feelings or love, sometimes we have to stick it out because we’ve committed.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        Agree 100%!

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      Excellent story!  My wife and I are in our 18th year, and we complement each other in similar ways.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I’m so glad you shared this, Karyn. My husband and I had a similar experience, hearing from a few people convinced we weren’t right for each other, would never make it, etc. But we love each other, are resolutely committed, and have learned to enjoy the differences. He’s the stable, steadfast and leveling presence in my life. And I’m the spice that adds a little kick to his.

  • Connie Almony

    This is why the Bible talks about the Body of Christ. We all are a different part, hopefully working as a whole, in order to achieve a unified purpose. If we were all legs, we’d certainly be able to “go places,” but we wouldn’t be able to do anything once we got there. As parents, my husband and I run in to more difficulties where we are alike, because we do not have that other perspective or skill that a “different” person could draw from.

    Love this post!

  • Kwblock

    My husband is a linear kind of a guy ( his words) who likes to go from point A to point B. however, he’s also great with people, loving to make them laugh, and intuitive about relationships. I am artistic and creative ( he describes me as a ‘free spirit’), a little organized but more joyful about life (for the most part, anyway) and attentive to beauty wherever I find it ( he sometimes groans and asks me, ” does every day have to a beautiful day?!”) with this combination of abilities, we’ve successfully raised six children to adulthood, helping each other through the complexities and occasional emotional pitfalls of parenthood. He’s run an adoption agency for 30 years and I ‘be written a book on motherhood. I hope we can use our combined talents and years of experience to further minister to families somehow.

    • Jim Martin

      Kwblock, how wonderful that you are in a place in your marriage where you are able to celebrate and appreciate your differences.

  • Scott M

    I completely agree!  My wife and I are complete opposites in most ways and approach life very differently.  I would be less of a person today if not for her.  Her differences have helped me see the world in a new perspective and I have grown a lot just in the 10 years we have been together.  Love this reminder.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Amen.

  • http://www.ivanhoesanchez.com Ivanhoe Sánchez

    Differences in my marriage has taught me to think outside the box.  Without those differences I wouldn’t be as successful as I am, because my wife can clearly point out the mistakes I can’t (or don’t want to) see. Yes, she has help me up many times and I just wish I could do for her half of what she has done for me.  

    • Jim Martin

      Ivanhoe, I am glad that you made this important point.  Sometimes married people will completely close themselves off to the help (or correction) they can receive from one another.  Quite often the other is able to help the other because they are so different.

  • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ Joel Fortner

    I absolutely this post.  I’m so thankful my wife is who she is. Like Gail and you, we are very different and that is precisely why every year living gets better. We bring our uniqueness and skills to the marriage every day to make it what we want it to be.  Recently, I was listing progress made on annual goals we set in 7 different categories (Yes, Zig’s model).  The funny thing is about half of them were focused on growing our marriage even though they’re listed in the different categories.  Being a new list, I didn’t really realize it until then. And you know what? It made me feel great about our marriage and hopeful for our future together.

    • Jim Martin

      Joel, good for you!  The process that you describe and the realization that so many of them were focused on your marriage must have been very encouraging to both you and your wife.

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    The one book that has had a profound effect on my marriage is “His Needs, Her Needs,” by Willard Harley. When I realized my wife has different needs than my own, it was like a light bulb went on over my head. Now I know why she acts so strange… wanting things like flowers and candy, instead of the latest technology. She has a completely different needs list than I do.

    While our personalities overlap to some degree, the needs list really pointed out how we could be help each other and really be there for the other person. I highly recommend this book for newlyweds and couples contemplating marriage. If you read it before you get married, you might save yourself years of grief trying to change the other person. When you embrace the differences your marriage can really prosper.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Great book John! My wife and I read it before we were married and it gave us great insights into each other.

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      One of the top books out there, in my opinion.  My wife and I used it for our pre-marital counseling and I use it with the couples I counsel now.  Excellent resource!

    • http://tonychung.ca tonychung

      We were given that one during pre-marital counseling. Another book is by Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott, “Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts”. Wow. Eye-opening thoughts about how our during engagement our perceptions don’t always line up with reality. If mistaken beliefs transfer into our marriage, we begin to set unrealistic expectations, and then….

  • http://www.cheriblogs.info Cheri Gregory

    “What if God led you to him or her because He knew precisely what you needed to realize your full potential.”

    It’s taken me years to realize the truth of this wise observation!

    My husband and I are opposites, too. He’s Melancholy/Phlegmatic, while I’m Sanguine/Choleric. I’m ENFJ, and he’s INTP (the “N” is not a point of commonality, as I use my “iNtuition” for personal relationships while he uses his for theoretical abstractions!)

    Our differences have made it IMpossible to be selfish and stay married. They’ve made it possible — and necessary — for us to work hard at maturing as individuals. We married at 21, so we’ve quite literally “grown up” together over the last 23 years.

    Have you seen Dr. Corey Allan’s “marriage manifesto”?  His premise is that “marriage is designed to help [individuals] grow up.” I probably would have blown off such a notion when we first got married (back when I knew it all) but it sure rings true after almost a quarter of a century of experience!   http://www.simplemarriage.net/manifesto.html

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Thank you for sharing this resource. The idea of “growing up” together is compelling. I’ve been married for 1.5 years and when I reflect back on my relationship with my wife (almost 7 years) I can see how we’ve grown together in spite of all of our differences. Two becoming one…

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      I’ve heard of this resource before, but haven’t looked to closely.  Maybe I need to take a deeper look at this.  Thanks for sharing!

  • http://henryfiallo.wordpress.com/ Enrique Fiallo

    I’m speechless. What a great post. I have been married for 6 years, and we have gotten to where Michael described, where we are not valuing our differences. This post has really gotten me to think about how I am not embracing the differences, valuing and using them for the benefit of our marriage/partnership. I think that one word from your post really struck home for me: EMBRACE. The Free Dictionary defines it as:
    1. To clasp or hold close with the arms, usually as an expression of affection.2. To include as part of something broader.4. To take up willingly or eagerly.5. To avail oneself of.

    It is an all encompassing word! Thanks Michael!

    • Jim Martin

      Enrique, I remember a season in our marriage when I did the same kind of thing Michael refers to.  I did not embrace the real differences in my wife and myself.  You are right, the word “embrace” describes a very important value for those of us who are married. 

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    Thanks for sharing this today Michael.

    My wife and I are total opposites. I like quick decisions, being around people, adrenaline, and more. My wife likes to be alone, mull over decisions, having lots of things to choose from…

    This speaks to me and makes me realize I need to be more understanding of her differences. They were exciting before. I’m sure they can be exciting again.

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      Sounds like you are describing Heather and me.  Except that it’s backwards.  My wife is more like you and I’m the opposite!

  • Rob Sorbo

    It’s funny my wife’s parents NEVER fight, never argue, never disagree, but my wife and I often tease each other and have no issue with disagreeing with each other in public (we’re not those crazy people screaming at each other, we’re both very composed). My mother in law often thinks our marriage is in shambles because of that, but my wife (who is nearly done with her MA in counseling) has to try to explain that well-handled conflict is actually proven to strengthen marriages.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I agree. Avoiding conflict doesn’t mean it isn’t there. And sooner or later it will take a toll on one’s physical, spiritual and emotional health. It doesn’t just “go away.” Well-handled conflict, on the other hand, not only diffuses it, but it teaches us to handle conflict well elsewhere — and we all know life is ripe with opportunities for conflict!

      • http://tonychung.ca/ Tony Chung

        I’ve bought into the notion that arguments are fine as long as both parties want to solve the problem. If each party wants to be “right” without understanding the other’s perspective, then the argument is pointless–neither wants to change. Good observation on the differences topic.

  • Joe Steuter

    I completely agree with you, Michael. My wife and I are much like you and your wife, although I’m the extrovert and she’s introvert. We are in our second year of marriage and I’m starting to realize more and more every day how much of a blessing it is that she provides me with a different perspective on love, life and the true meaning of a life-long partnership. Thank you for the post! 

    • Jim Martin

      Joe, how wonderful that you see this as a blessing so early in your marriage!  I am afraid that it took me a lot longer to see this.

    • http://recreationalwordslinger.wordpress.com/ RecreationalWordSlinger

      I know what you mean Joe…I’m in my third year of marriage, and it has been a blessing to have someone to “do life” with everyday.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for this! I’m engaged and getting married in August! This post was really helpful in our endeavor to grow on purpose in our relationship!

    • Rachel Lance

      Blessings as you start your life together – may you always live on purpose & with intentionality!

      • Anonymous

        Thanks Rachel! Where are you from?

        • Rachel Lance

          Anchorage, AK – have you been?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Greg-Oonaugh-Wood/532511954 Greg Oonaugh Wood

    Great reminder of why we are MEANT to be together.  She completes me. :-)  In life and in ministry.

  • Catie Perschke

    I needed to read this today! My husband and I are learning to work as a team like never before in our 24 years of marriage! I had gotten to the identify and acknowledge our differences, but now need to move on to celebrating and exploring all the ways that together we add to each other and have more colors to paint our world. Thank you.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Don’t you love Michael’s “colors on the canvas” analogy? What a picture!

    • Rachel Lance

      I love Michael’s point about celebrating the differences. Have you thought of ways you and your husband will be able to celebrate each other?

  • Pingback: How our differences make us stronger « Ryan Goh: Life through these eyes

  • http://www.ruthiedean.com/ Ruthie Dean

    My husband and I have taken the personality tests mentioned above and we discovered so much about each other! He is a developer and I’m a classic “achiever” and we often fought about people I didn’t think he need to be investing in because I wanted him to move forward. We’re learning to let our strengths benefit each other as we understand our perspective differences. Do you think couples should take these tests before marriage (if possible)? Are there ever any personality differences that make marriage nearly impossible?

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Some personality differences are certainly more challenging than others, but I don’t think it’s impossible. However, value differences are huge. How can I learn to appreciate differences in values, when it lies at the core of what I believe?

  • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

    Understanding our differences can help avoid conflict too.

    My husband and I have different love languages. (Based on Gary Chapman’s book). My husband is an “Acts of Service and I am a “Quality Time.”  Before I went out of town once, he took my car and filled it with gas, washed it, vacuumed it out, and loaded my luggage. At first I felt resentful that he “didn’t even want to spend time with me before I left.” However, after thinking about it, I realized that he was showing me how much he loved me, in his own language, before I left.   By realizing this, instead of being angry, I was endeared.
    It’s so important to realize the differences in each other.  And add God to the mix, and you have a 3 cord strand, not easily broken. 

    • http://recreationalwordslinger.wordpress.com/ RecreationalWordSlinger

      Finding out our love languages was a huge insight for my husband and me! Glad to see it helped other people, too.

    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      It’s all about the perspective we use to view things. Glad to see it work for you, Kelly.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Alright, I think you’ve closed the deal. The cover of that Love Languages book scared me when it first came out. However, you are probably the 100th person to prove its value. I think I’m convinced I need to give it a read.

      • http://www.christianfaithatwork.com Chris Patton

        Wow, Jason…my efforts did not help?!? At least tell me I was #99…

        • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

          Of course they helped…I’ll give you #99.

      • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

        If you REALLY don’t want to read the book, just go to the website, and read the definitions, and then take the quiz online.  You will glean info that way.  It’s like the Cliff Note version.  

        http://www.5lovelanguages.com/learn-the-languages/the-five-love-languages/

  • http://www.wonderwomanimnot.com/ Elizabeth Hill

    My husband and I started dating as teenagers.  He hated Chinese food, traveling or change of any kind.  He was very disciplined and regimented.  I on the other hand loved trying new foods and places but was very “fly by the seat of my pants” and disorganized. 

     Over time, we’ve balanced each other in very positive ways.  He now loves Chinese food and is always up for trying new flavors.  While he still doesn’t love traveling the way that I do, he is now willing to explore new places and take trips with the me and the kids. I on the other hand have become a little more disciplined and organized.

    Marriage is definitely about compromise, but compromise without losing yourself.  Right before our wedding I heard Dr. Dobson interviewing an elderly man who had been married forever.  His advice was “There were times in our marriage when I didn’t love my wife.  There were times in our marriage when my wife didn’t love me.  The trick to a long marriage is to make sure you don’t fall our of love at the same time.  That way there is always one of you who can love enough for the both of you.”  After 22 years of marriage I can say that is definitely true and something that I held on to through the rough years.

    • http://recreationalwordslinger.wordpress.com/ RecreationalWordSlinger

      What a great quote! Thank you for sharing…it inspired me!

    • Jim Martin

      This is a great quote, Elizabeth.  One to remember.

  • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

    My wife and I approach pretty much every situation in a different way. She sees things that I don’t and I see thing that she doesn’t. It really makes for a well rounded decision when it comes time to make one. It can be frustrating at times when we allow it to feel as opposition instead of help. But when we know the other is out to help us then it is a treasured and amazing difference.

    • Rachel Lance

      Excellent point about the well-rounded decisions made when you’re we complement each other. Pete Richardson is a life planning coach that has worked with our staff and really stresses the value of balancing teams with different strengths and types. The same must apply to marriage – it’s only in our differences that we are able to come together and function at our best as one.

      • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

        Exactly! This isn’t an easy process but it sure is helpful once we make the transition.

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      Heather and I are the same way.  I’ve learned to value her viewpoint instead of ignoring it or ridiculing it for being different than mine.

      • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

        Ya I struggled with that for a little bit. I felt like she was just bringing up opposing views to make things difficult but when I since I have realized she is just trying to get me to think a decision all the way through it has been a great help!

        • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

          It is simply amazing just how much help our “helpmeet” can be!

  • http://twitter.com/SiaKnight Sia Knight

    Timely post, Michael!  In marriage, the goal is to always see the best in your partner.   Your spouse should be the one person that you can count on having your back whether or not he/she totally agrees with you.

    • http://recreationalwordslinger.wordpress.com/ RecreationalWordSlinger

      This is my favorite part about marriage…having my husband’s back and him having mine!

  • Jill

    Michael,

    I am an INFJ as well and I have 8 children. Believe it or not, I make sure I get my quiet and my writing time!! Taking the Meyers Brigg years ago (during training with Wycliffe Bible Translators) was the best thing for my husband and I. He could finally see that I wasn’t pretending to need quiet and contemplation time…I was wired for it! My husband is loud and a leader. He doesn’t just think outside the box, he explodes the box! He was sent to Japan to work on the nuclear power plant there after the tsunami…he had to get the parts made in the U.S., communicate with the Japanese engineers(he doesn’t speak the language) and go into a completely unknown situation and get the task done. He did it! Meanwhile, I was at home biting my nails!!

    We are so different but we’ve been married thirty years by the grace of God.

    jill farris
    http://www.generationalwomanhood.wordpress.com
    http://www.jillcampbellfarris.com

    • Jim Martin

      Jill, taking the Meyers Brigg test years ago created not only insight for me personally but conversation between my wife and me.  

  • http://twitter.com/locklear_jay Jay D. Locklear

    Robert Mulholland deals with this some in his book “Invitation to a Journey” when he talks about the need to nurture our “shadow side,” or the opposite side of our personality traits.  Extraverts need to intentionally withdraw sometimes, while introverts need to intentionally be around people – kind of like the dinner party you mentioned.  Mulholland is dealing with this on an individual level, but I think that the same applies when talking about it on a relational level.  Just as we need to work on our opposite, or shadow, side personally we must also learn to accept and nurture the differences we find in our relationships, particularly in the marriage relationship.  Great post – thank you for sharing this!

    • Rachel Lance

      Very interesting to think of nurturing the shadow side. Thanks for the challenging thought!

  • Anonymous

    The greatest gift God has ever given me is my salvation.  The second greatest gift is my spouse.  Following Michael’s advice will not only strengthen your marriage, it will also promote unity.

  • Anonymous

    Great post, Michael. My wife and I also completed the StrengthFinders test with the same goal in mind. We then had both our grown children and daughter-in-law do this test so we have a better understanding of each other’s strengths.  It’s been a fascinating process of discovery to identify our commonalities, and to appreciate our differences.

    I would suggest another important assessment for a couple is to identify and define their Differentiating Values. While most people think of values as ‘core values’ (which I refer to as fundamental values, and there are only a select number of them), there can be tremendous power for a married couple to identify and define their top differentiating values. 

    For my wife and I, we identified 3 differentiating values that have become the basis for all our decision-making: Loyalty, Discovery, and Optimism. These 3 values encompass our God-given strengths and keep us focused on our joint purpose – thus leading a meaningful life.

    • Rachel Lance

      What a great next step – thanks for the suggestion.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

      Ferguson,
      That is really inspiring that you and your wife took the time to create decision making values- what a cool idea. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1039823730 Rob Holliday

    I agree with everything said here. What really stood out to me was the practicality of the insights- both the processes that effectively help us recognize each other’s strengths and tendencies and the processes toward reconciling the differences and making them complementary rather than polarizing. It strikes me as far too common for couples to discover their differences and then compartmentalize them to minimize conflict rather than, as you’ve nicely reinforced here with scripture, recognize how accentuating our opposites can complete one another and deepen the foundation of our marriage.

    • Jim Martin

      Rob, good observation.  I was thinking as I read this post that I wish I had read this in the early years of our marriage.  As you suggest in your comment, the post is not only insightful but connects with the way we might behave as a result.

  • http://recreationalwordslinger.wordpress.com/ RecreationalWordSlinger

    I need to look into doing those tests with my husband. We completed the Love Languages survey online, but I already intuitively knew what it would say about him! One difference that I have noticed over our 2.5 years of marriage is that he wants me to sit next to him on the couch all the time, whether we are watching TV or reading. I prefer to have my own space, and I also get up and do stuff throughout the house, which would just disturb him.  

  • Beth Anderson

    My husband and I are also opposites. We balance each other out and complete each other. It’s been a beautiful marriage of almost 30 years.

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Complete, don’t compete.  I love that, Beth!

  • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

    Though I’m not married yet, (but currently taking applications) :D this is something to keep in mind for me, because I can just seek men out who are the same as me. I have to remember that opposites can bring great things to the relationship. 

    • http://www.nginaotiende.blogspot.com Ngina Otiende

      Even the one who seems “the same” as you, doesn’t end up being exactly that….after  you marry him! 

      He is a man – so that just kinda makes him different already :)

      Plus that ‘sameness” kinda lasts as long as they are on the other side of the altar.  Once you are in the same house, the real self (and formerly unknown , even to themselves!) emerges! 

       I thought my husband and I were pretty similar, still have lotsa things in common to date..but lo and behold…we are two different souls!

      I think these differences are  God’s way of making us more like Him, less like the bratty little beings we have the absolute potential to become, if we are left by ourselves. 

      All the best in the applications-processing :) :) :)

      • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

        Thanks.. Application processing is a slow process. :)

  • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

    I have heard Andy Stanley speak on this. Being different can create tension, but it is a good tension. One that helps your marriage grow and helps you learn more about yourself.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

      It may not always seem like “good tension” at the time. But over the long haul you can look back on it as helpful for growth and maturity.

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    Wow!  I was just talking with a friend about this last night!  My wife and I have been able to identify our differences after 18 years of marriage.  We have developed ways to complement each other rather than compete or collide.  When we celebrate our differences and use them to boost our affection for one another, our marriages can soar to whole new levels.  Thanks for posting this!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Differences CAN boost affection for one another. I find my husband’s differences to be quite attractive, because they are typically things I’m not good at. It also helps to speak positively of those differences. Saying “I love how you stay so calm in tough situations,” makes it less annoying at other times. :)

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        I agree.  But sometimes, those traits can be really annoying… :)

        • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

          As I’m sure mine are to her as well…

          • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

            What?!?! I’m sure you and I are never annoying … ;)

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            Lol!

  • http://www.hope101.net Lori Tracy Boruff

    Our differences have made it possible for us to be married 31 years. We discovered competing was distructive and found ways to complete each other. #3 Leverage your differences is such a key.  It is sad how many marriages have ended and families torn apart by not simply communicating and learning how to celebrate the differences.

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Agreed, Lori.   A little more effort to understand each other and commit to love the person no matter what, would save a lot of marriages avoiding much heartache.  

    • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

      31 years is FANTASTIC!

  • Vanessa Tachenko

    This is exactly what I needed to read this morning, thank you! 

  • http://talesofwork.com kimanzi constable

    How laid back she is helps how high strung I am. That’s just one example. I tend to jump head first while she likes to plan and pray!

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      My wife and I are wired the same way, Kimanzi.   I’ve often said that I keep her from being stagnant and she keeps me out of jail!  Balancing each other is so important!

      • http://talesofwork.com kimanzi constable

        Couldn’t agree more. I also agree with Michael that at first it use to annoy me, but you live and grow!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jane-Babich/100002993676826 Jane Babich

    After 35 years of marriage, I became a widow in 2008.  Your comments are so true… I would not be who I am in business, in God, or as a parent; if I had not married a man that was different than me. Most important as I have gotten older, I realize that those very differences from both me and my husband; made my daughter the wonderful, confident young lady that she is.
    If we had both been like me, she would never have read the Sunday comics, ate sherbert, or road a roller coaster.
    But if we had both been like my husband, she would not have explored her artistic giftings, or known that organization gives way for flexibility.
    Enjoy the differences in each other, while you can!

    • Rachel Lance

      Thank you for the vivid & beautiful illustration!

  • http://www.FaithfulChoices.com/ Paula

    David, I was thinking the same thing.  The iron isn’t the same but it’s still iron.  Which to me connects with being equally yoked.  Being spiritually pointed in the same direction makes up for a world of differences and connects us like nothing else can.

    • http://LeadByGreatness.com David Lapin

      Beautiful, Paula.

  • http://www.FaithfulChoices.com/ Paula

    Thanks for sharing your insight Michael.  I love learning from other marriages in the hopes that your marital iron will sharpen ours.  How long have you two been married?

  • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

    The more I read through these comments, the more I’m convinced of the power of our words when it comes to our differences. Speaking positively of these differences — out loud and with each other — lessens their sting.

    • Jim Martin

      Michele, that is a great observation that I had not noticed.  So true.  Speaking positively of these differences seems to be very important.

  • http://graceandpoise.wordpress.com/ Clare

    Fantastic post.  Great reminders. Thank you. 

  • Kari Scare

    Great post! I just read some of the same scripture you referenced in your post this morning in my devotion time. God must be making a point with me. To answer your question, my husband and I are certainly opposites, and this has increasingly helped us navigate life much more successfully (after almost 20 years of marriage and 25 years of being together). The best example of how our differences have helpd us recently is in the adoption of a 9-year-old boy (he’s now 11). Our differences helped us through that very difficult first year, and there is no way we could have the progress we have with him had we not used both of our strengths.

  • http://www.nginaotiende.blogspot.com Ngina Otiende

    Awesome insight Michael.

    Gotta say just because you know your differences will make you a better team doesn’t necessarily mean you will enjoy the ride all the time!

    Sometimes I find that thinking about the end-result (unity in marriage, success at projects e.t.c) keeps me focused, even when I want to bail out (of the process, not marriage) like yesterday! 

    And of course, the more I consciously work at it, the more some differences cease to matter. 

  • Gina Holmes

    I read that only about 1% of people are INFJ’s. I’m one too. :-) Great post as always.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I’ve heard that as well. But I am an INFJ and have heard of several others … Makes me wonder.

  • http://www.livesimplylove.com/ Merritt

    My husband is super practical and logical. If it makes sense to him, he does it. I’m more of an emotional decision-maker. We both came into marriage with quite a bit of debt, but thanks to his practical, disciplined nature we were able to pay off all our credit cards in less than two years. It did involve some tears and a lot of sacrifice, but I feel like I know a new way to live thanks to submitting to his strengths in this area. Lots of other examples, but this was an easy one to see how God used our differences to our benefit. Thanks for this great post Michael!

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Merritt, congratulations on acknowledging and acting on what needed to be done to control money in your marriage!  Life tends to be much sweeter after working through the hard stuff like that.  

  • http://www.strategic-concepts.us/ Eric Langley

    Michael,

    Spot on.  Like you my wife (of 28 years) and I are 180 degree opposites. For us she is the introvert and I am the extrovert.  It is good thing that we are different. She keeps me grounded and I keep her from going into a shell.

    Last year we took the DISC behavioral style (similar to MBTI) and values assessments for the first time. They changed my life. I found out things about myself and how I was perceived (that I did not like) and about my wife (that I did not know but liked) because it was clearly written out. We review our style reports regularly, especially during conflict. 

    Now our marriage is much stronger since I understand her better and, more importantly, because I understand myself better and our differences. It gives me the opportunity to modify my behavior for improved communication. 

    I believe in the assessments so strongly that I give them away for free at http://www.abeo.us and us them extensively for mentoring and corporate development. Anyone is welcome to use these for any purpose. 

    For instance, for a young couple planning on marrying I had them take the assessments. They were both dominant extroverts with no stop button! Definitely something to be aware of and account for in the relationship…

    ~eric

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Eric, what a great way to pay it forward by giving away assessments! 

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      Thanks for sharing the link.  Always good to have another assessment tool for understanding ourselves and others.

      When you talk about an introvert going “into her shell,” I think of how well my wife socializes. She’s thoughtful but private (which often helps me think before I speak–always a good policy, often difficult for extroverts to adhere to). Many who know Ellen would be surprised to discover she’s an introvert. She gets out of her shell and her comfort zone often.

      I think some people believe introvert means antisocial thus the surprised reactions when they find out Ellen’s an introvert.

      • http://www.strategic-concepts.us/ Eric Langley

        (which often helps me think before I speak–always a good policy, often difficult for extroverts to adhere to)
        Lord hear my prayer…

  • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

    Michael,
    As a young married man (7 years) I am quickly learning what you learned not to do.  That is trying to fix my wife.  Thank you for the post. Very encouraging.  

  • Sherrie Simmonds

    Loved this! My husband and I recently celebrated our 25th anniversary. We, too, are exact opposites (he: INTP and me: ESFJ). This is a terrific reminder of why our differences help us both be better people and how we can love each other because of our differences, not just in spite of them.

    • http://justin.am/ Justin Wise

      Sherrie … your marriage sounds a lot like mine, but reverse the roles! I’m the extrovert, my wife is the introvert. We wouldn’t go out of the house if it wasn’t for me and I wouldn’t slow down if it wasn’t for her!

      Great reminder. Thanks!

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      Certainly a lot of opposites-attract stories among the readership today. In our house, she: ISTJ, me: ENFP. Time together has proven the value of our differences. I agree with your statement, Sherrie, “… we love each other because of our differences, not just in spite of them.” Good words.

  • CraftyMama

    Awesome.

    • http://justin.am/ Justin Wise

      VERY!

  • http://twitter.com/SethTowerHurd Seth tower&amp

    Always enjoy your blog. From today…do you think there’s one
    Meyers-Briggs type that rises in leadership faster?

    • http://tonychung.ca tonychung

      I don’t think MBTI can predict leadership ascension. However, when a person knows how they function and can manage their strengths and weaknesses through building teams of complementary members, then leadership quality can be measured. I don’t think I’d feel comfortable about a leader who hit the top too quickly. Usually this means the leader’s foundation lacks character and experience.

      Even though a young boy named David was told he would make a great king (and eventually proved to be Israel’s greatest), he had to work through several years of building character before the time had come to pass.
      Every so

      • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

        Good observation, Tony. Paul’s description of leadership within the church leans heavily toward tested character and mature faith.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ANGYBHEJMX54FQTEMWPDRIKQNA Joy

    My husband and I (newlyweds) were just talking about this. I am a spontaneous person, whereas he likes to observe then act. This has allowed us to divide up different tasks to each other. Before I used to hold tight to certain tasks because I was afraid he wouldn’t do it right, and vice versa. Now we are learning that we are a TEAM, and that means we must trust each other, knowing that makes us different will make us stronger. 

    • Jim Martin

      Joy, wish you the best in your new marriage.  Sounds like you are already working to embrace your differences.

  • Pingback: Petition for Divorce: We don’t have anything in common! | StephensonGroup.org

  • Phubbard7

    Jesus said that if anyone wanted to follow Him, then they had to deny themselves first, before even taking up the cross and following.  The differences with my gorgeous wife take me there all the time.  It is a divine calling to love someone so much.  But, in order to do this effectively and give Father all the glory, I must first deny myself.  This gives me the freedom to serve her. The same denial gave Jesus the freedom to die for His friends and secure their freedom.  Thank You, Father, for such a privilege.

  • http://www.ontargetcoach.com/ Brent Pittman

    Differences leave room for growth. My wife and I have our personality cheat sheets on the fridge for quick reference. 

    • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

      Brent,
      I love that idea. what exactly do you have hanging on your fridge? Myers Briggs? Strengths Finder?

      • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

        Ditto for me. I’m curious about your cheat sheet (although after almost 29 years of marriage, I’d ignore it anyway). So is this the Myers-Briggs Cliff Notes?

      • http://www.ontargetcoach.com/ Brent Pittman

        Barry, 
        Yes sir, MB and Strength Finder. I’d like to add others as we take them…hopefully I’ll get to take the Birkman ( http://www.birkman.com/ ) someday, but it is pricy. 

        • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

          Brent,
          I checked out the Birkman link and it sounds really interesting. But, like you mentioned, $475 is way out of my league. do you know what separates Birkman from other tests?

          • http://www.ontargetcoach.com/ Brent Pittman

            Not sure, I’ve heard that it’s very detailed and one of the best. Perhaps @InsideBirkman will give me a free assessment so I can blog about it. 

          • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

            Brent,
            Please do, and I will be sure to pass your post on.

  • Anthony Ferraioli, M.D.

    Nice post Michael. Here’s one for you. It’s called ‘Why We Marry Who We Do’. Wrote it back in 2010: http://drferraioli.wordpress.com/2010/09/30/why-we-marry-who-we-do-reprint/

  • http://necessarymiscellany.wordpress.com/ John Herndon

    My wife and I have been married 2.5 years and during these first years we’ve had some major light bulb moments when it comes to discovering our differences! 

    The biggest ones dealt with how we achieve productivity (She starts and doesn’t stop ’til done, I have to divide things into bite-sized tasks and take breaks) and spend our free time and money.

    It has been great “discovering” this fantastically different person bounce ideas off of, ask for advice and figure things out with.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

      John,
      Boy do I echo that one! My wife is big into finishing a job completely before moving on, and I am way more into sections of work.

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      My wife is much more decisive and works briskly. I plod and allow things to pile up. When we need to clean out a closet, desk, or garage, it’s best if I don’t look in the trash bin.

  • http://tonychung.ca tonychung

    Of course you use the scripture that has been our guiding principle for our marriage. It is so common, yet I was amazed at how few people knew it.

    My wife and I are polar opposites of each other, as evaluated by MBTI, DISC, True Colors, and even The Flag Page. I find myself asking, “Why can’t she be more like…me?” Then I wake up and realize it’s because she’s different that I have the freedom to be me. If she were like me, we’d both be competing for those spaces. Instead, she found her niche and supports mine, as I do hers.

    I love the image, “like comparing apples and oranges!”

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      By the way, I love the Flag page. What a great, positive test. Thanks!

      • http://tonychung.ca/ Tony Chung

        There is a version of the Flag Page for kids, which is played as a card game. We found our younger son took it emotionally really hard when he couldn’t decide on enough cards that matched what he really likes. We had to give him a week to calm down, and try the game again. It turns out he matched the Control – Perfect character type, which explains why he felt that he had to “get his card choices right”.

  • http://tonychung.ca tonychung

    I don’t think MBTI can predict leadership ascension. However, when a person knows how they function and can manage their strengths and weaknesses through building teams of complementary members, then leadership quality can be measured. I don’t think I’d feel comfortable about a leader who hit the top too quickly. Usually this means the leader’s foundation lacks character and experience.

    Even though a young boy named David was told he would make a great king (and eventually proved to be Israel’s greatest), he had to work through several years of building character before the time had come to pass.
    Every so

  • Casey Toda

    great post! there are 3 steps but you said there were 5, what are the other 2? thanks

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Apparently, I can’t count! I have changed it to three. Thanks for letting me know.

  • http://twitter.com/GavinKnight Gavin Knight

    my understanding of Myers Briggs is they spell intraversion/extraversion with an ‘a’ as the distinction they are making from what most people understand as introversion/extroversion is that for Myers Briggs they are talking about how you re-energise (what you receive from social situations, hence the ‘a’ in the spelling – for intraversion you like to be alone to re-energise, whereas for extraversion being with others re-energises you), whereas the common understanding is more about how outgoing you are (what you give to social situations, hence the ‘o’ in the commonly understood spelling) 

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      Gavin, at first I didn’t see the difference, but then I thought about intramural sports (within a college or university) and intercollegiate sports (competition among colleges or universities). Intra/extra–how your soul recharges (internal). Intro/extro–how you relate to others (external). You offer an interesting distinction.

  • http://krisolsson.com/ Kris Olsson

    Nice post. I could be reminded of this every day and it wouldn’t be too much.

    Only one question:  Are there supposed to be 5 steps or just the 3… or am I just missing something?

    Well, one more thing… I haven’t written to you before, but I’ve been enjoying your work here for a little while now. You are a great resource. I feel like I’ve stumbled upon a goldmine. Thank you.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Kris. Yes, that was a typo. It should be three. I have now fixed it.

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    You and Gail are similar to Ellen and me. We’re opposite in every Myers-Briggs category. Because of our different points of view, I have greater confidence when we do come to agreement. I like your analogy of more colors on the palette. When we come to a decision, you might say it ends up being a colorful one.

  • http://tonychung.ca/ Tony Chung

    I hate to conjure up a biz buzz word, but the proper term is “synergize”, not “compromise”. Synergy is when the whole becomes greater than the mere sum of the parts. Compromise is when parties trade what they want for each other.

    Compromise keeps score. Synergy recognizes the value of the option they hadn’t yet discovered.

  • http://tonychung.ca/ Tony Chung

    Thanks T. It’s nice to know that others share the same trains of thought!

  • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

    I’m not married yet but I still feel the need to comment on this because I still want to work my way to getting a free book at the end of the month!! ;)

  • Lisa Colon DeLay

    This point of view can really call into question the “goodness” or validity of services like eHarmony…do you think so? They pair people not on differences but a whole series of similarities. Friends are often picked this way, I think. Being compatible may only but good to a certain extent? What’s your take?

    In my marriage I married the same Myers Briggs profile as me, with a distinct exception, Introvert/Extrovert. I’ve learned a lot, and I think I’ve seen the value from being exposed to that difference. It’s changed me, positively.

  • Johnm

    Great article. My wife and I are opposite in nearly the same way you describe you and your wife, based on the Myers Briggs and the StrengthFinders. We haven’t been married for 33 years, but we’re close behind at 30. Thanks for the encouragment. I will use that to encourage others.

  • Deborah Glenister

    great article, I think our differences can compliment each other and balance each other out. Thanks for posting.

  • Tim Blankenship

    My wife takes her role as a help mate very seriously and knows the areas where we are different are the areas I need the most “help” in and vice versa. I believe this is the backbone of community. Without recognizing and celebrating these differences we cannot experience community for what it is meant to be.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      True. Philip Yancey in his book What Good is God said, “It requires no grace to get along with someone who looks like you and wholly agrees with you. Grace meets its test in the context of difference.” Community (marriage) without grace is not community at all.

  • Al Fonce

    Differences are great if you and your wife can talk those differences out and work out the core that will maximise your happiness –there is no way my wife will accept this conversation, though, however often I try –I’ve been married for close to ten years now.

    My wife is impulsive, has bad anger management, is procrastinating (bordering on plainly lazy) and can’t keep a routine (annoying with two young children). She’s often completely inconsistent and gets extremely aggravated when I enquire about the rationale for her actions. I am not judgemental though: I just want to understand and thus minimise our family’s exposure to what I basically view as erratic, excessive behaviour.

    Just like most people, I am happy and feel secure when everything goes smoothly in a reasonably regular way. To me, a modicum of planning and routine is the best way to free up time to interact with each other whilst doing all the necessary chores. My wife is the opposite: if things go smoothly, she will find a way to introduce unneeded variability and make the whole situation spin out of control, only to get angered by the ensuing mayhem and leave the whole mess for me to fix. Of course, she can’t understand why I then get upset.

    Same with our children whom my wife can’t engage positively so as to get their cooperation. Instead, the children live in a constant threat/reward interaction. My wife gets extremely aggravated when I try to moderate her in the matter. I am indeed deliberately providing unwanted advice for the children’s sake as I don’t want them to believe that such interaction is normal.

    I do more than my share of house chores and take up quite a
    bit of the motherly role in addition to the fatherly one so the constant malfunction that is forced on me wears me
    out. My wife is happy sitting at home in pyjamas all day, browsing the Internet.

    My wife’s behaviour is hurting me to such an extent that I’m losing sleep. Arguments are very frequent and intense: my wife feels harassed when all I want to do is understand why the heck she does what she does. She complains that I ‘train’ her. I would not if her actions made her happy or were not detrimental to the family, but such is not the case. I would not if I did not have to work double to fix the mess she invariably leave behind, but I always have to. So I just go about with stress-induced symptoms and a very nasty family situation.

    Oh and guess what? She’s the victim and I am the oppressor. I have proposed that we attend marital counseling. She won’t have it. She won’t even get counseling on her own. And of course, she won’t get cured for depression since it’s all about me, her third husband (yes, third!)

    I have no recourse as my wife absolutely insisted I broke up with all friends and family and stop all leisurely activities, so I am completely on my own –my children are all I have left.

    I’ll just go on like this until my children are on their feet and then I’ll just die completely worn out. Honestly, if I’d known what I would get into getting married, I would have opted instead to carry on with the leisurely life I’ve had until 40: lots of sailing, flying and fun relationships. The only thing I get out of my marriage is my two wonderful children, whom I am afraid will be completely messed up.

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  • http://twitter.com/dawnhild Dawn Hild

    Loved this piece.  My husband Craig and I are so different, it’s almost ridiculous to those looking in on our marriage.  But, as you wrote… it those differences that make us the perfect pair.  It works well for us, since we are now approaching our 32nd wedding anniversary!

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Congratulations! 

  • Lovemore

    Awesome!

  • Tabreena17

    The differences in my marriage makes it possible for me to be more spontaneous and not so stuck in “the plan”. I am a doer and sometimes, well most of the time, I find it difficult to take a break. This is a characteristic I inherited from my dad. As a pastor, himself, he rarely takes a break withoutfeeling guilty or lazy. Early on in my marriage, I had an eye opening experience when I found my husband taking too many breaks, in my opinion. I associated that with laziness. Now, !8 years later, I have learned to value my husbands approach to life and I have incorporated more boundaries and rest into my life.

  • Mark

    Brent – as a coach who might use The Birkman Method in your practice we’ll be glad to give you a complimentary assessment and let you personally see the difference. Send me your contact information (mark@birkman.com) and let’s connect - @InsideBirkman:twitter 

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  • Hamza Khurshid

    what if both are Introvert ? and I have a question…are S people caring? I mean do they EXPRESS their care and love freely and creatively as N do? Will be waiting for the reply

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      With regard to introverts, ask a different question … what are the benefits of us both being introverts? How does this make our marriage unique? With regard to S, I’m not sure you can generalize. Some are, some aren’t. Thanks.

  • Chaitra

    Thanks… this really helped….

  • Cookie

    yeah my wife farts so much.

  • SpeakingTheTruth

    for many of the men and women that were Very Blessed by God to have met one another and have a family, be Very Thankful that you have one another to share your life with. for many of us that are not so lucky, it certainly hurts very much for us. being alone is no fun at all, since many of us straight men can’t seem to meet the right woman to share our life with to have a family that we would had wanted as well. today there are so many very nasty women that have a very serious Attitude Problem and will Curse at us men when we will try to start a Conversation with the one that we would really like to meet, and i will never understand why women are like this today. either these women must have been very badly abused by their men at one time, or their parents must had abused them while they were growing up. i really never expected to get Cursed at by a woman that i really wanted to meet, and i know other men that had this happened to them as well. loneliness is certainly no fun at all like i had just mentioned, and who would want to be alone anyway? it is very bad enough to go to work, and then to come home to an empty apartment with no one to talk too when so many men and women have a life to share with one another and have their family to enjoy. well you can see how upset that makes me, and i am sure that many of you will agree with me too. now with so many Gay Women that are out there nowadays, and certainly adds to the problem. Doesn’t It? i would really say so.

  • Ben

    A big advice to take. I believe every one is like that or near to that . AM sure once embraced relationships will only grow stronger.

  • 11hearts

    Differences are to be celebrated and what led to attraction, but….. How do you help the other partner understand that perspective? How do you help them see the good and not only their perception is the correct and only one? Advise appreciated.