I’m going through this awkward phase in my relationship where we’ve both agreed and said “we should get married” but we’ve also sighed in relief that “we’re not married yet.” On one hand I’m squealing every time I see a bridal magazine or watching a proposal video on YouTube. On the other, there’s a stark realization that while I’m madly in love and ready to be married…
“He squeezes his toothpaste from the bottom up…”
“He only listens to slow boring hipster music on road trips…”
“He zones out pretty often…”
“He’s so stinkin confrontational…”
“His relationship with God is way more intellectual than mine…”
And that’s only the beginning. As easily as I could come up with a list of things I love about him, I could write a list of things that make me want to slap someone’s ice cream cone on the floor. In all seriousness, it seemed as though the closer we were stepping towards serious commitment, the more my eyes are opened to our differences and ultimately it caused some tension and distance. We found deep differences, like figuring out how we recharge. He constantly needs people, every day, every hour. Conversation fuels his being by rejuvenating and challenging him. It brings him an immeasurable happiness that he wants to share with me. I’m a little different. I can get energy from people but the older I’ve become the more particular I am about who my friends are and who I’d rather spend my energy on. This has caused quite some tension. We’d keep pushing it off and overlooking the issue to the point that it kept coming up every week.
He would rather spend time with his friends instead of me because I couldn’t provide the energy and excitement he needed and I would look to my friends from other schools and states for my energy and stress relief because he wouldn’t understand. Our conversations would revolve around our differences and we’d say things like, “you’re not the person you were when I started dating you,” or “I feel like I don’t know you anymore.”
You can imagine how much that hurt. How could I not have doubts and fears of spending the rest of my life with this person? Should we even be together? How will we ever move on from this?
Now, I’m not the type of person to ask for help, one of my many flaws. But I was so desperate to make this better so I called a wise friend of mine who just so happens to be a chaplain and counselor. It changed everything.
Seek An Outside Perspective
If you’re going through anything like this, tip number one is ask for help! If you’re serious about it, getting an outside perspective can give you insight into something you didn’t even know is a problem. But be intentional about who you talk to. Sometimes talking to your peers who are in the same stage of life as you don’t give the best advice. Seek someone with experience. Not to mention inter generational relationships rock! Just do it!
Less Of You, Now There’s Two
One thing our friend told me that affirmed me and comforted me was that this was normal. It would only make sense that our differences would seep through our idealistic perspective of marriage. I’m about to commit to sharing my time, loans, space, friends (FOOD) with this man and that’s going to take some adjusting. We were both raised to be independent so this stage is all about the adjustment of merging two lives. So recognizing that this was normal and why was helpful in understanding all this tension.
Compromise, Compromise, Compromise
For a while my thought was that one of us needed to change. That’s my pride speaking.
“Well he needs go out less and hang out with me more.”
“He needs to stop listening to hipster music in the car.”
“He needs to stop confronting every person he’s angry at.”
It’s not my job to change him. In a sense that’s a relief because that sounds like a daunting task. To me, finding the middle ground is one of the hardest parts. Why? Because I have to set aside my pride, my ways, my routine and find a way to make it work. What’s amazing about it is that both of us needed to humble ourselves and that worked out in our benefit. So instead of letting him DJ our road trips we each get to play three songs and switch on and off. Instead of only staying in or only going out, we ration out our social and personal time. It made all the difference.
What is your ‘Me Too’?
The biggest problem we faced was the fact that we were only pointing out each others’ flaws. That’s a lot of negativity to take in and we weren’t saying it to build each other up. We came to the realization that there is something powerful and constructive about finding the “me too” between the both of us. It bonds us when we come back to what brought us together in the first place. For example, we focused so much on how we spend our time with people that we forgot that we both ultimately just love people. How we go about it is different but the core is the same. We both love music and I do like folk/indie music but the times we play it are different. When we were intentional about finding what we had in common, our conversations became so much more positive and connecting that pointing out each other’s’ differences.
Your Strength is My Weakness
It’s okay that we’re different. His strengths are my weaknesses and vice versa and that’s why we make a great pair. We will always encounter differences but those could be to our benefit. He helps me get out when all I want to do is sit in bed and binge on Netflix. And my lighthearted nature helps him not take his tasks too seriously. The tricky part is finding unity in the divisions. In Ephesians 4 we’re called to be “one body and one Spirit.” That doesn’t mean that we won’t have our differences but we’re to channel them into being one with God. In fact, the differences are supposed to bring unity to us.
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and of the knowledge to the Son of God” Ephesians 4:11-13.
While we want to make sure we have our “me too” moments, we won’t forget that we each are given differences to bind us closer. I can say with complete certainty that this man will one day be my husband but there’s always a lot to learn. As long as God is involved in each step, I think we’ll get through it. Soon enough, we’ll be pretty good at this “being one” thing.