Appreciating your spouse's differences can lead to greater growth in your marriage


After 26 years of marriage, you'd think I'd know what kind of flowers my wife likes.  Last Mother's Day I bought her a big, floppy basket of pink pansies to hang at the front entrance of the house.  As I loaded the flowers into the car, I began to second-guess myself: Is pink her favourite colour?  Maybe she hates panies.  I felt like the contestant on the game show for married couples, who when asked what his wife's favourite flower was, replied, "Robin Hood All-Purpose."


Someone has said there are two times when a man doesn't understand a woman--before and after marriage.  The truth is, men and women are different in so many ways.  From the flowers we like to the way we handle conflict.


In our marriages, communication is enhanced by knowing and understanding our differences.  It's true that sometimes opposites attract.  Couples are often drawn to differences in each other.  But for many, the quirks and peculiarities that first attract them to their partner are now driving them crazy!


One potential source of frustration is the clash between extroverts and introverts.  If you find yourself married to your opposite  personality type, you might need to make some adjustments to the way you communicate (check out the chart below). 


If you are an introvert, it's important to let the extrovert know you are processing information so your lack of immediate response isn't misinterpreted as meaning you don't care.  If you are the extrovert, let the introvert know that you are not nagging or pressuring but just thinking out loud.


If you are an extrovert who loves to chat, mingle at parties and fill up your social calendar, remember that your introverted partner may prefer to stay in some days and curl up with a book or watch a movie.  Introverts are not shy or anti-social--they're just wired differently.  Likewise, introverts may need to make the effort to attend a social function with their partner once in a while.


Remember, the key is not in changing yourself or the other person so you can be the same.  The key is to accept who you are and who your partner is, seek to understand the differences, then learn how to laugh at what you used to take so personally.


In a marriage, when you bump up against your differences, lighten up and remind yourselves that each of you can bring value and blessing to your relationship.  Just because you are different doesn't mean you haven't got room to grow.  Don't judge or try to change the other person.  Embrance them for who they are.  God created us all in His image.  It's not up to us to try to re-create other people in ours.          


The Extravert and the Introvert Relater


Which world do I relate to? The outer world or the inner world?


  • Processes information immediately (speaks without pauses) / Processes information slowly (speaks with pauses)
  • Thinks out loud / Thinks before speaking
  • Feels that he or she must fill the silent spaces in conversation / Is comfortable with silence
  • Is refreshed by interacting with people / Finds solitude restorative
  • Relates to the outer world of people and things / Relates to the inner world of ideas and thoughts
  • Enjoys talking to lots of people / Prefers talking to a few people one at a time
  • Needs confirmation from other people about who he or she is she is / Confirmation about who he orshe is she is comes from an inner source
  • Likes a new challenge and is willing to jump in and try something new / Prefers to stand back and check a new situation before committing
  • Likes to work with people close by / Enjoys working alone, without interruption
  • Is distracted by things in the immediate environment / Is focused and can more easily shut out distraction 

    From The Intimacy Factor by Dr. David and Jan Stoop (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992)


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