How to Have a Good Marriage When You Married Your Opposite

I love my husband dearly, but in my opinion, he is wrong about so many things. Not because he actually is wrong – he is right more often than I love to admit – but because his way is not my way. If you know the Meyers-Briggs Types, he is an ESTJ and I am an INFP, and if you are unfamiliar with these letters, it doesn’t matter. All you really need to know to understand where I am coming from is that there are only two choices for each of the four spots, and as you can see, my husband and I have not one in common.

My husband and I knew at the beginning of our relationship that our souls were made of divergent qualities, but we both had Christ. We figured that would be enough to smooth out our dueling opinions, preferred modes of operation, and warring habits when the honeymoon period wore off. Of course, we thought, God would enable us to be patient, sacrificial, and understanding, and we figured that would make all the difference when it came to compatibility.

That would have certainly been true if we had known how to follow God perfectly, but we didn’t. We still don’t, but things have changed for the better. Our marriage has been a blessing to us both, not in spite of our opposing characteristics, but often because of their complementation. It just took forgiveness after fights weighted with sin, counseling (a mediator), and a couple years to figure it out.

In attempts to spare others some of those quarrels which erupt when strong opinions collide, I give you five tips we have picked up along the way.

1. Hold to the common bond.
In Genesis chapters one and two, we see the mighty creator who formed the Earth begin to spread good across the face of it. The first chapter of the Bible begins with this repetitious rhythm: “It was good….It was good…It was good.” Until he creates man and declares, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18 When God sends all the animals to be named by Adam, we see some hope come forth for those of us who have married our opposite, “So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found.” Genesis 2:20

Even if we are opposites, at least we have more in common with our spouse than the animals do. We are suitable for one another. Let’s not forget how relieved Adam was just to have another human, “The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” Genesis 2:23

It is important even if you find your personalities clashing that you can easily pull to mind where you are alike—even if all you can think of in the moment is that you are both human.

“…your vows made your stories permanently intertwined.”
There really is more, though. You both saw something in each other, and you knew you could go into the future together. Which means you most likely have similar goals or desires somewhere in there, and you cannot risk forgetting that. Otherwise, all you will see is competing ambitions, when your attention should be on how the varying abilities between the two of you can make your marriage and partnership stronger.

When you build a life with another person, you create commonality. You begin to share more than just living arrangements and bills, but also memories and moments that shape who you will become. The important thing is that after your wedding, you become who God created you both to be – together. While your personalities may differ, your vows made your stories permanently intertwined. It is vital that you are determined to not give up on the beauty of the covenant that God has created between you.

2. Forgive again and again.
This one is simple; if you want your marriage to succeed – to live, you must forgive. When there are differences there will be disagreements, and disagreements are a hot zone for sin when we are not armed properly.

Peter knew the pain of living with someone who constantly required forgiveness. He even went to Jesus looking for the definitive answer on how much forgiveness he had to offer. In Matthew 18:21-22 it tells us, “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Don’t do the math and start keeping track, for love keeps no record of wrongs. Instead always be one whose heart is so yielded to Jesus that your natural posture is one of grace and forgiveness.

And don’t forget that you require the same. Tim Keller wrote in The Meaning of Marriage that, “Our sins hurt Jesus infinitely more than your spouse’s sins hurt you. You may feel your spouse is crucifying you, but our sins really did put Jesus on the cross, yet he forgave us.”

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SOURCE: Crosswalk, Chara Donahue