Reprinted with permission from Asian Beacon. Originally published in Asian Beacon vol 47/1
My husband and I are into our third year of marriage. We are facing many challenges, e.g. we are so incompatible, almost opposite in our personalities and our way of doing things is very different. As a result we are getting on each other’s nerves more and more with frequent quarrels and misunderstandings. Is there any help?
Conflicts are often caused by misunderstandings and failure to communicate. Let me give you an example. Tek always puts the spoon he stirs his coffee with on a dish intending to re- use it the whole day. This irritated me. I asked him to put it in the sink because it will attract ants and dirt. He countered, “you don’t have enough spoons”. I taught him to rinse the spoon and put it on the rack so then he can re-use it later, all clean and dry. Problem solved. So communication is the key. If we use a bit of time and energy to bring up these issues, no matter how small, so that we understand each other, we can eliminate most irritations.
You change or else
Tek leaves his shoes all over the house usually strategically in places where I will trip over them. After countless pleas he has not changed. I decided if he will not change, I will change. I prayed to God to remove my irritation. Not surprisingly He did it supernaturally. Now I can happily walk around his shoes or sometimes pick them up and place them out of harm’s way – all without being angry. So to maintain your own peace, change yourself with God’s help.
Celebrate your difference
Nurture is what we learn: habits, methods, behavior, etc. which can be changed. But nature, the way we are born is not easy to change. I am an introvert and was attracted to Tek because he is an extrovert. He is a visionary with unconventional ideas so he was attracted to me because I was careful and detailed. Not surprisingly like most couples, the traits which attracted us before marriage became irritations after marriage. Statistics show that one of the complaints couples have is “we don’t think alike in many areas”. But instead of regarding this as a negative, we eventually discovered it is actually a positive.
Understanding God’s purpose
We came to understand that we are different. God says that both of us are “wonderfully made” Ps.139:14 and that “we are His workmanship, made the way God wanted so that we can do His good works which He prepared for us.” Eph.2:10. Having understood God’s intention, we don’t tolerate but rather celebrate our difference. For example, pioneering ventures like taking on Asian Beacon, opening the first christian bookstore in Melaka, starting a blog were all initiated by Tek with me following up with the structured details. Each of us contributed our strengths, talents, giftings to work as a synergetic team. We also complement, supplement and balance each other in the areas that the other lacks.
Insights from personality profiling
Recently a friend who is a consultant in doing personality profiling * did an assessment for us. Tek and I have just celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary so we thought we knew each other pretty well already. After he did the assessment the results, besides confirming what we already knew, also alerted us to certain areas for improvement e.g. when we cannot agree, exasperated I would usually say “you just go ahead and do what you want. I don’t agree but I will not stop you”. But Tek is not satisfied – he will continue to talk until I agree. Why will he not act unilaterally? Because his profile shows that “he is a people person” and “he depends on the approval of others”. So knowing ourselves and our spouse gave us more understanding and insights to improve our relationship.
Communicate, understand your DNA, change yourself
So communicate more to find solutions to the different ways of how you were nurtured. Start celebrating the differences of your DNA by recognizing you can complement, supplement and balance each other with your different strengths/weaknesses because of your unique God-given nature. Always ask for God’s help when it seems impossible.
*Personality ID an ENHANCED DISC-based personal assessment tool used to improve work productivity, teamwork and communication. See Crown.org
For more of Dear Goldie’s column see www.asianbeacon.org