My friends Shannon and Jake have been married for 10 years. Shannon is quiet and introverted, while Jake has a funny sense of humor and has never met a stranger.
They have a lot in common in terms of faith and devotion to God, but they are pretty different in many ways. Shannon likes to read, spend time alone, and paint. She doesn’t care much for small talk or long conversations, while Jake loves to talk, watch TV, and spend time together.
Do you and your spouse have a lot in common? How do you manage differences in your Christian marriage?
Differences with your spouse are not necessarily bad. If handled well, they can add flavor to your marriage and enrich your love for each other.
4 Gifts to Revolutionize Love in Your Christian Marriage
- The Gift of Acceptance
Do you remember when you first met your spouse? What drew you to them? What did you like about them? Each of us is unique, with strengths and limitations. Your uniqueness is part of what attracted you to your spouse.
At first, when you two first met, you were “in love,” so you put up with those differences. But over time, if we focus only on our differences with our spouse, we will become frustrated.
Accepting our differences is the first step to revolutionizing your love for your spouse. Accept that their likes and dislikes are different, and part of being human is that we all have limitations.
For areas where your differences lead to strong disagreements, it’s wise to discuss your needs and come up with a workable plan for both of you. For example, Shannon likes to go to bed early, Jake prefers to go to bed late. They discussed their needs and worked out a compromise they were both happy with.
Giving and receiving acceptance enriches your love for one another and can lead to a deeper understanding, connection, and authenticity in your marriage.
Accepting your spouse for who they are is loving them just as Christ loved you.
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. John 13:34
The Gift of Grace
When your spouse leaves the lights on, his empty coffee cup on the table, or socks on the floor again, how do you feel? Do you like things done a certain way, and do you think your way is better than your spouse’s?
I like to have a clean sink when I’m cooking, so I clean up as I go. My husband prefers to cook and worry about dirty dishes afterward. What’s important is that in the end, whether we follow my way or his, we end up with a delicious meal. There are many ways to accomplish the same goal.
In my marriage, the verse, Mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13) has taught me to choose my battles wisely and give my husband the gift of grace.
Practicing grace allows you to recognize that you and your spouse are imperfect, and you each have your own quirks. Grace accepts differences, chooses battles wisely, and decides when to leave something alone instead of addressing it.
You can ask yourself, is this issue an offense or irritant that needs to be corrected or simply accepted as part of being married to an imperfect individual?
Grace frees us from becoming offense collectors and genuine lovers who build up instead of tearing down our spouses.
If we don’t extend grace, we may be caught in a cycle of always trying to fix our spouses. This practice over time can erode trust, chip away at your marriage, and cause it to disintegrate. Instead, choose your battles wisely and give the gift of Grace.
Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32
Next time you want to criticize, stop and extend grace to your spouse. Giving the gift of grace allows you to cut your spouse some slack and experience less stress, joy, and harmony in your marriage.
In what areas of your marriage are you willing to look for strengths in your differences?
3. The Gift of Understanding Each Other’s Love Language
Walk in love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant sacrificial offering to God. Ephesians 5:2
What is your love language? How do you give and receive love?
Love is a choice. It is a combination of affection, devotion, and commitment and is essential in marriage.
Each person has a love language, and everyone receives and gives love differently. Taking the time to understand how you give and receive love will help you teach your spouse how to love you best and strengthen your marriage.
We feel emotionally energized when we receive love in a way that nurtures us. Dr. Gary Chapman has identified the five primary love languages to strengthen your relationship.
Words of affirmation – They feel loved and thrive when they receive approval and affirmation such as you did a great job, or thank you for taking out the trash.
Acts of service – Their love tank is filled with actions rather than words. So, if your spouse’s love language is acts of service when you help take out the trash, load the dishwasher, do repairs around the house, or run an errand, you are filling their love tank.
Quality time -Jake’s love language is quality time. Shannon spends time with him in the evenings and asks about his day. She gives him full attention without multitasking. When she does this, Jake feels loved, and his love tank is full.
Receiving gifts – My husband’s love language is receiving gifts. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive. When I make him a special dish, give him a notecard or a new tool that I know he needs, he feels loved.
Physical touch – This could be a simple kiss on the cheek, holding hands, rub on the back, your spouse’s hand, hugs, affection. Intimacy is not only about sex.
You and your spouse can take the love language quiz to discover your love language. Which of these makes you feel loved and appreciated? The one that blesses you the most will be the one that will keep your love tank filled to overflowing.
4. The Gift of the Third Strand
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12
When God is the third strand and the center of our marriages, we can withstand anything, including our differences. Praying together is one way you and your spouse can connect and share your needs with God.
What can you be thankful for in your differences?
My husband is handy and loves fixing things around the house. I am thankful for how he uses this gift to bless our family and save money on costly repairs.
We have been married for over 30 years, and we are still growing and fine-tuning this process of loving well.
Friend, Love is a choice. Marriage is a team sport. It takes work, but the key is to be objective, reframe those differences, and see your spouse as a precious gift, companion, friend, and lover.
So choose to give the gifts of acceptance, grace, love and anchor your relationship in God. Then watch your relationship blossom. Now, that’s a revolution!
Identify 2-3 strengths you admire in your spouse and share it with them.