We’re reviewing several ways that we can restore the love in our marriages and this fourth solution is understanding differences. I went into marriage thinking Larry valued everything I did and if he loved me he would be motivated to fulfill what I wanted. If he didn’t, it meant he’d fallen out of love with me. Or had never loved me to being with.
But in time I learned those were lies and that I could actually understand our differences and even appreciate them. Let me give you an example of how we used that insight in an encounter Larry and I had at a speaking engagement.
Larry and I sat across from Dot and Jose at a conference center. Dot began, “My feelings for Jose have grown cold because he doesn’t show me love.”
Larry asked, “Dot, how could Jose show you his love?”
Dot paused before she spoke in a whisper. “I keep telling him the kitchen needs painting.”
“Obviously, Dot, that sounds very important to you. Could it be that his lack of performance sends you a message he doesn’t love you?”
“Of course,” she replied. “If he really loved me, he’d do what I wanted.”
Larry went on to explain to Dot that Jose’s level of love had nothing to do with him painting the kitchen.
Like Dot, we can put requirements on our love, thinking that our spouse’s failure to meet those expectations means he or she doesn’t love us. We don’t realize that each of us is different with varying motivations and desires.
If you’re a person who loves people and wants lots of fun and you’re married to a person who prefers a quiet evening at home alone, you may interpret your mate’s desire as rejection, when actually it’s just the way he or she looks at life.
If you make quick decisions but your mate is easygoing, you may be critical of his or her slow thinking. But that’s the way God made your mate! What we forget is that we married the opposite, unconsciously desiring a person who would complement our weaknesses and give us balance.
Understanding and celebrating our differences can diminish our “falling out of love” feelings.
Think for a moment about something that is different from you in your spouse. If you put aside your judgement of that, can you actually think of something positive about it? Ask the Holy Spirit to give you an appreciation for that difference. It might just be more valuable than you think.
And remember, that difference doesn’t mean your spouse doesn’t love you. It just means he or she looks at life differently based upon their past experiences.
Next time, we’ll look at another way to restore love: don’t major on the minors.