Keep Calm and Marry On


 Dealing with Differences

Men and women may be of the same species, but we operate on different wavelengths. Take bathroom items, for example. A typical man has about four: a toothbrush, razor, bar of soap, and an old hotel towel. A woman usually has around 328, and a typical man can identify only about a dozen of them.

A few years back, my wife, Lenya, and I were discussing a book we'd read about the differences between men's and women's brains. She didn't know that men have a "nothing file" in our minds, which we enjoy because it's empty and separate from all our other files (wife, kids, work, sports, etc.). I found out that all of a woman's files are interconnected, and if you tweak one, you tweak all of them.

 When Lenya told me, "My new worst fear is that my emotions might get put into your nothing file," I reassured her, "I'm not going to let it happen." We've learned over the years to embrace our differences, especially when they're challenging.

Because here's the deal: when it comes to male and female, different doesn't mean superior or inferior—just different. Men and women are physiologically and socially different, especially when it comes to things like communication. And because God made us this way—"male and female He created them" (Genesis 1:27)—there's purpose in the distinctions. More specifically, a husband and wife are to mutually complete and complement each other in their differences, thus maximizing their lives.

The world seems to be caught between two extreme ways of looking at the so-called battle of the sexes: chauvinism and feminism. But Jesus offers a better way. Because of what He did on the cross, men and women can be redeemed and made new, given the ability to walk in the Spirit and love others as Jesus loves them. So whatever you and your spouse's tendencies are as husband and wife, God wants you to learn to accept and respect each other, extending His grace whenever possible. When your differences inevitably begin to grate on your nerves, let love guide you to a better understanding of each other and of what marriage is all about. And vive la différence!

Tip #5: Talk things out. If the three rules of real estate are location, location, location, then the three most important traits for a successful marriage are communication, communication, communication. Learn early on to be honest and open with each other, "speaking the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15).