It's almost hard for me to believe that my husband, Dave, and I have been married for over 50 years. When I look back, I am still amazed at what the Lord has done in our relationship and just how far we've come.
I will never forget the day we first met. One evening I was outside washing my mother's car, when Dave pulled up in front of the house with his friend who lived upstairs.
Trying to flirt with me, he leaned out his window and said, "When you're finished with that car, would you like to wash mine?" I sarcastically snapped back, "If you want your car washed, buddy, then wash it yourself!"
Dave says he instantly thought, That's the girl for me! He says he loved the "fire" in my personality. But I'm not sure he knew exactly how much fire he was about to get!
Two are Greater Than One°
You see, Dave had been praying and asking God to bring him someone who needed help. And, boy, did I ever need help.
Because of the sexual and verbal abuse I endured as a child, I was suffering from tremendous emotional pain, which affected every area of my life. I had put up walls and decided that no man would ever hurt me again.
The first several years of our marriage were very difficult, to say the least. I was harsh, mean, critical, rebellious, and hard to get along with.
But Dave never gave up on me. And most importantly, he continued to pray for me and invite God into every area of our marriage.
It didn't happen overnight, but the Lord helped us to transform our marriage into something great. Maybe best of all, God transformed me.
How to Reconcile Your Differences
Along the way, Dave and I learned how important it is to celebrate each other's differences. Dave is naturally laid back and easy going, always looking at the bright side of things. However, I'm more of a "Type A" personality. I'm highly-motivated but can sometimes be too harsh or insensitive.
For years, I tried to get Dave to be more aggressive like me, especially when it came to stepping out into new things. He would inevitably say, "Joyce, you're always out ahead of God." And I would reply, "And you're always ten miles behind Him!"
On one occasion, after I continued to discuss how passive he was, Dave finally got really upset and said, "Joyce, you better be glad I'm this way. Because if I wasn't, you wouldn't be doing what you're doing!" I got the message loud and clear!
The truth is, Dave is not exactly like me—and this is a good thing. However, if I want to receive all of the benefits of having him as my husband, it requires me to be patient with his differences.
"I Accept You the Way You are."
First Corinthians chapter 12 says that we are all part of one body, each with our own distinct and important role to play. Verse 25 tells us there should be no division or discord...but the members all alike should have a mutual interest in and care for one another.
I remember years ago when Dave and I shook hands and I looked at him and said, "I accept you the way you are." Then he looked at me and said, "I accept you the way you are." That was the beginning of us having longevity in our relationship.
This doesn't mean people don't need to change. None of us are perfect, and we all need a lot of help from God. But it does mean that we are not responsible for the changes in others—God is. We are only responsible to pray for them.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see all of the positive things about your spouse. Continue to appreciate everything you have in common, but also choose to celebrate your differences.
Practice viewing your spouse as a unique gift from God, as someone who complements your life and makes it better.
As you do, God will help you to set aside your differences°and love them for who they are.