What do you do when you’re married to someone completely opposite to yourself?
Obviously none of us marry someone who is exactly identical to ourselves. But what do you do when those differences between you and your spouse start to create a rift? Because often it’s those little quirks that drive us up the wall.
Deb from pricklypeople.com has some great stuff to say about being married to a quirky person. Love her perspective here!
My husband Bruce and I just celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. We’re perfectly matched, opposite in every possible way. He loves to be early; I’m usually late. He’s orderly; I’m disheveled. I’m an idealist; he sees the glass half empty. I love people; he loves downtime. He likes to say if it weren’t for me, we would never get out of the house. And if it weren’t for him, we would never find our way back.
How about you, are you and your husband different in any way? They say opposites attract, and based on our experience mentoring couples, it’s probably true. So how do you survive living with this quirky person? Here are some tips we’ve learned along the way.
1. Remember Why You Fell in Love
What attracted you to your husband in the first place? Most of us are on our best behavior when we are dating, so we display our wonderful personality strengths or gifts. Each of us is created in the image of God, who has the most perfect, well-rounded personality there ever was. And as God knitted each of us in the womb, He wove in a tiny slice of Jesus-Genius, wonderful gifts that reflect the very best of our Role Model.
Think back to your early days.
Did you love your husband’s wit, or his steadfastness, or his loyalty? Maybe it was his boyish love of fun, or his amazing intellect, or his romantic tendencies.
Your life together may have taken some twists and turns you never expected. Difficulties sometimes bring out the worst in us. But those gifts you were first attracted to are still there, even if they’re buried under the stress and strain of daily living.
If you’ve all but forgotten what first attracted you, now’s the time to change that. Try making a list of all the traits you loved about your husband when you first met him. Keep that list in your Bible or prayer journal, and thank God daily for your husband. Name those traits, one by one, and dwell, as Philippians 4:8 says, on what is true and noble and right and pure and lovely and admirable and excellent and praiseworthy. Resist the temptation to dwell on what is false and dishonorable and wrong and contaminated and ugly and deplorable and of poor quality and unworthy.
2. Embrace His Gifts
Not only did I marry a super-organized man, but I was raised by a perfectionistic mom. I’ve been trying to stay out of trouble all my life! I secretly liked being disorganized, at least I wasn’t uptight and picky! But one day, I just had to come out of the closet.
We were getting dressed in our walk-in closet, and I had just pulled a shirt off a hanger, leaving the hanger right where it was on the rod. My husband piped up, “I know you’re doing that just to annoy me.”
I had no idea what he was talking about. He pointed out his “naked hanger” section in the closet – which I had honestly never noticed before. He explained that when he removed a shirt from its hanger, he placed the naked hanger in the naked hanger section. He had been doing this for many, many years; expecting me to notice and love the idea so much I would follow suite. I didn’t. I hadn’t.
He really thought I was trying to annoy him by leaving my hangers, naked and swinging in the breeze. I couldn’t believe my ears! Now I had a choice. I could leave those naked hangers there on purpose, just to annoy him. After all, I had much more important things to think about than persnickety hanger-habits.
But I was learning about personalities and realized I really could use some organizational help. I decided to lean into him and adapt his naked hanger idea. I can’t tell you how that pleased my hubby. He loves to solve problems and make things organized. And I have an endless assortment of projects for him.
How could you adjust and lean into your husband, adapting to his gifts? What are your areas of weakness? God probably gave you a husband who has a gift that you lack. Can you swallow your pride and learn a little from him?
3. Know His Needs
You probably married someone who is your opposite, at least in some of the personality traits. Each of us has personality strengths, or gifts; weaknesses or garbage; and emotional needs, or “greeds.” There are 40 human emotional needs, and each of us has all of those needs, but they are ranked differently depending on our personality.
Understanding someone’s personality doesn’t tell you everything about that person. But it does tell you enough to improve a relationship. I have a free personality assessment here. After completing the assessment you will receive a resource with more information about the gifts, garbage, and greeds of each personality type. You can take the assessment as many times as you like. So take it once for you and once for your husband. Then compare the results.
Our emotional needs make us quirky at best and prickly at worst. Which emotional need is most compelling for your husband? Can you change your approach and attempt to meet that need? With the naked hanger illustration, my husband was showing me his emotional need to be helpful and acknowledged. When I was willing to adapt his method, he beamed with satisfaction. It always amazes me how quickly people respond when we make the first move and meet one of their needs.
4. Cover his weaknesses.
God created Eve because He said it wasn’t good for man to be alone. In Genesis 2:18 God says, “I will make him a helper suitable for him.” In the Hebrew, the word helper is ezer. It means “one who helps.” So Eve’s role was to help and support Adam.
In some Bible versions, the word ezer is translated as “helpmeet.” This is an old architectural term for a structure that surrounded a column to make it stronger. In a sense, the helpmeet would cover any weaknesses in the column. Together the column and the helpmeet would make a stronger structure than either could be alone.
When we expose our husband’s weaknesses, we not only weaken him, but we put ourselves and our marriage on shaky ground. Our role is to support and cover him, making both of us stronger and more resilient.
In what ways can you cover your husband’s personality weaknesses? Have you divided up your responsibilities according to your gifts? Is there something you are asking your husband to do that he isn’t equipped for? My husband isn’t as outgoing as I am and doesn’t feel as comfortable in social settings. I make sure I stick by his side when we go out and introduce him to people he doesn’t know. He really likes it if we can agree on what time we will leave the party before we get there.
5. Resist Creating a Mini-Me
Contrary to popular thought, the whole world would not be a better place if everyone were more like me. Or you. Our personality gifts enable us to create beautiful art, build strong structures, invent complex machines, raise stable children, write epic stories, have empathetic compassion, and much more. Each personality style is crucial in our society.
Most of us are attracted to someone who is our opposite at least in some personality traits. But when the stress and strain of life gets real, we start to get annoyed by those differences. We start to think that our husband would improve if he were more like us. But think about this for a moment. If your husband were more like you, you would never have fallen in love with him in the first place. As Emerson Eggrichs says, “He’s not wrong…just different.”
Here’s a great visual for embracing that quirky person you married. Look at your hand. Think of the tips of your fingers as your gifts and the spaces in between your fingers as your weaknesses or garbage. Now clasp your hands together, fingers interlaced. If one hand represents you and the other hand represents your husband, you can see how your gifts cover his garbage, and vice versa. The next time his quirkiness starts to irk you, clasp your hands like that and start praying!
Deb Potts is a speaker and author of Making Peace with Prickly People. She loves to equip and encourage others to experience exceptional life in Christ. She and her husband Bruce lead the Marriage Ministries at their church campus. Find out more at http://pricklypeople.com. | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest |