Marriage Tuesday

marriage 2i read the following quote this morning:

Being human, not one of us will ever have a relationship with another person that doesn’t have a wrinkle or a wart on it somewhere. The unblemished idea exists only in ‘happily ever after’ fairy tales. I think that there is some merit to a description I once read of a married couple as ‘happily incompatible.’ Ruth likes to say, ‘If two people agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary.’ The sooner we accept that as a fact of life, the better we will be able to adjust to each other and enjoy togetherness. ‘Happily incompatible’ is a good adjustment. 

-Billy Graham

wow.  such sage advice.

wanda and i have walked a path that few ever walk anymore.  we started dating when we were fifteen (she had actually just turned 16, but who’s keeping track if someone’s older than the other?).  we started doing youth ministry together when we were 18.  we got married when we were 21.

at an early married age, we did just about everything together.  it wasn’t smothering.  it’s just that we were attracted to each other while we were interested in the same stuff.  we read the same books.  we were challenged by the same teachers.  we went on trips together and shared the same experiences.

we developed the same world view.  although we came from extremely different family backgrounds, we mirrored each other’s core values and life goals.  our shared commitment to ruthless conflict resolution (on the big stuff) and an absolute relationship of peace and mutual respect started while we were dating.

but we have been far from perfect.  as i’ve written before, if it weren’t for the relentless pursuit of good mentors and examples, and their determination to help us see our blindspots…in both our personal lives and our relationship with each other…i’m convinced we would have never made it.  wanda’s buried insecurities and my clueless insensitivities were the recipe for marriage failure.

man, am i grateful for friends who have persevered with our sin and shortcomings throughout our lives.  i can’t imagine what i would be without it!  like i said, pretty unusual stuff.

although we share so much in common, we are extremely different and disagree on a bunch of stuff.  we have found ourselves on different sides of the political debate for much of our married life.  theologically, there are things she believes that leave me scratching my head… not to mention the countless times (after i have pontificated some personal interpretation of scripture to my captive wife/audience) she gives me the look that says, “really? are you going down that road?  really?

we had different parenting styles…so we mostly compromised.  we have different ways of handling money…so wanda handles the money.  a great idea, by the way.  we have dramatically different sleep patterns…wanda’s usually out by 9:00pm and i’m never asleep before 1:00am.

she was really neat and organized.  i was neither.  over the years, i have had more influence in her life than she has had in mine, in this area.  not too proud of this.  wanda cries easily.  i cry in sports movies and my son’s disappointments.

wanda is incredibly intuitive when it comes to people’s motives.  i’m generally clueless, and often careless in this area.  i give trust immediately.  wanda is much more discerning and, at times, i’ve been frustrated by that.  i just believe the best…but like an idiot, i have cost us dearly over the years.  wanda’s intuition and wisdom, when i have listened, have spared us much grief.   wanda would probably say my trusting personality has inspired and challenged her.  this has been a life-long struggle for us to stay balanced.

when ruth graham said (in the quote), ‘If two people agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary.’, it struck me as one of the wisest and most profound things i have ever heard about marriage.

compatibility is important.  agreement is important.  unity is important.  being on the same page is important.  shared values and beliefs are important.  i wouldn’t trade that for anything.  but compatibility is only one half of the story.

it is our sacred incompatibilities that have made us what we are.  it has been the willingness and determination to see and respect and honor each other’s differences that has added the depth and purpose to our union.  those incompatibilities have made us stronger and more resolved in our promises to each other…not our compatibilities.

in our incompatibilities, we have learned to stand independently of each other.  we can think on our own and act on our own and respond to god and others on our own.   it has been in the strength of our independence that we have found our healthy dependence.

yeah.  we are happily incompatible.

are you?

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4 thoughts on “Marriage Tuesday

  1. Jean and I will be 20 years in October. I give her all of the credit for a happy marriage We are definitely happily incompatible as we are vastly different people. Jean is laid back and soothing, while I am driven, highly competitive and quick to frustrate and anger. I am firmly convinced that it is only through God’s providence that it works.

  2. Much of the differences you wrote about between you and Wanda resonated loudly with me. I am generally disorganized, trust immediately, poorly handle money, give in to life’s comforts, not guided by rules or obligation, and usually want uncomfortable situations to pass quickly (although I am learning the hard lesson that sweeping it all away is NOT always a good idea). Dara is highly organized, guided by her integrity, intuitive, much stronger (in many ways), not crippled by fear, and if we were to ever test it – her IQ is mostly likely several points higher than mine. But, by the grace of God she loves me. We have learned how to disagree (and continue to learn to respect each other’s opinons). Most importantly, we decided a few years back that no matter how “good” we are together, we were going nowhere with God. So, here we are…..

  3. Mike, I felt like I was rehashing Fina’s and my marriage history. Sometimes we can’t always see what God is up too. Thanks for the new goggles and different perspective. Just what I needed to hear.

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