My husband and I share many things in common. We both love writing, playing sports, watching movies, going for drives and enjoying nature. On a deeper level, we share many values, including our love of family and our faith. We share a vision of our future life together – a simple, but meaningful life of joy, love and togetherness with each other and the children God blesses us with. We share the hope of journeying together through this life and reaching our final goal of meeting our God in Heaven, where our love for each other will culminate in our perfect and everlasting love for him. All this makes our marriage compatible.
At the same time, we have many differences. We come from different countries and backgrounds, with different traditions, languages, cultures and careers. I enjoy many of these differences. It’s enriching to hear about Eddy’s culture and background, and share about my own. We have fun talking about our different traditions, choosing a combination of both and coming up with new ones for our own family. We learn more about each other, and are also able to combine the strengths we see in our respective cultures. However, we sometimes run into more personal differences as well – differences of thought, opinion or perspective. I think these differences are unavoidable in any marriage, but they can be intimidating. I sometimes cringe a little when I think a difference of opinion or judgment is about to surface, and breathe a sigh of relief once we’ve discussed them and reached a conclusion. I respect my husband even when he thinks differently than I do, and I know that he does the same. But difficulties can still be hard to handle, and I think it’s because, no matter how much confidence and security we have in our spouses, we know that all of us are free. And that freedom means that differences, depending on how they are handled can drive people apart; hence the relief when they have been discussed and reconciled, whether through compromise, sacrifice, or a previously unthought-of solution.
These differences exist in any relationship, but I feel them more personally when they are with my husband, both because I care much more about what he thinks of me, and because we have joined together, in spite of our differences, to form a new, united reality in our marriage and our family. This makes our differences and how we handle them crucial. Over the past two years, I’ve reached the conclusion that these differences are one of the most beautiful parts of marriage, even though they can be difficult and sometimes even intimidating.
First of all, much of the beauty of marriage stems from these very differences. If my husband were to be another ‘me,’ to think, feel and act in every circumstance exactly the way I do, then there would be no reason to marry – each of us would be complete in ourselves. Marriage only works because we are different people, with different personalities, thoughts and ways of being. We each bring to the other something different, something that we don’t have on our own, and because of this, we can complete and fulfill each other. I find in Eddy things that I lack in myself, and vice versa. We need our differences to be better individuals and a better couple.
Secondly, even though differences can drive us apart, I’ve realized that when we discuss them openly, they bring us much closer together. They give us each the opportunity to love the other, not as we want them to be, but as they really are – as they think and feel. Each time a difference surfaces, especially if it is unexpected or something I don’t like, I am free to wallow in my own emotions, or to handle the difference maturely and, in addition to resolving it, to come out of the situation with a better understanding of who Eddy is inside. This enables me to love him more, both because I know him better, and because it requires me to sacrifice some of what I want, thus letting go of a little more selfishness, and making a little more room in my heart to love him and to love my children. He does the same for me, and this makes our differences a wonderful occasion for growing in love, respect and unity.
I see in our children, both physically and in their tendencies and emerging personalities, a combination of my husband and I, along with the uniqueness that God gave each of them. I pray that God has given them the best of both of us, and made them even better still – I think all parents can echo this sentiment toward their children.
So… in spite of the difficulties they can sometimes cause, I believe that differences in a marriage, if rightly understood, can be a great treasure, and one of the keys to a successful relationship. I am looking forward to the coming years, as our children grow up and bring forth the different ways they think and feel as well, to enrich each of us and our family even more.