When Opposites Attract and Marry – 7 Tips for Making Your Marriage Great

My husband Dan and I are two very different people.  He likes to tell people, “She is like the movie Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and I am more like Full Metal Jacket.”   I like Antiques Roadshow and he prefers The Walking Dead.  He is very social and needs to connect with people to feel energized.  I am more introverted.  I need quiet, alone time to recharge my batteries.  So how do such opposites make a marriage work?  Glad you asked.  I have a few tips for you garnered through our 37 years of marriage.  I am writing this post to wives, but the same tips apply to husbands.

wedding dag On our wedding day, October 29, 1978.

#1.  When those moments come that cause you to look at your spouse and wonder why you ever married, make a list (write it down!) of all the qualities that attracted you to them in the first place.  They must have many great attributes because you chose to marry them, right?  Sometimes in the busyness of life, we forget to appreciate our spouse.  I have been guilty of this many times, especially as a young mom.  

#2.  Think of at least one thing each day that you appreciate about your spouse and TELL THEM.   Write a note and put it in their lunch or briefcase.  Send them a text or email.  Praise them in front of your children or others.  BUILD THEM UP!  Men especially eat this up.  They crave the love and respect of their wives.  That is the way God made them.

#3.  Encourage your spouse in their hobbies.  My husband loves guns and going to the shooting range.  I was not raised around guns and I did not feel comfortable around them when we first married.   I have gone to the range with him several times through the years (kicking and screaming) because he wanted me to learn to handle a gun.  It is not for me.  The last time we went I told him, “This is a man’s sport.  It is loud and dirty and no one picks up after themselves.”  We laughed.  Now, while I don’t enjoy shooting, I want my husband to be able to enjoy his hobby.  I encourage him to go to the range and have fun.  I even introduced him to a co-worker of mine who has since become a good friend and shooting buddy.   You have to, at least, try your spouse’s hobby a few times, then if you don’t enjoy it, you can still encourage them to pursue it on their own or with a friend.  The good news is that once your spouse sees how you encourage their hobbies, they will begin to encourage yours, too.

#4.  Accept that there is more than one way to do things, and your way (or your mom and dad’s way) is not always right.  This one tip will save you so much heartache in life.  I grew up with a dad who could fix or build anything.  When I married, I just expected that Dan would have that same ability.  It took many years for me to realize that growing up without a dad around meant Dan didn’t have the opportunity to learn those skills.  It was unfair of me to expect him to be something he was not.  I have learned that it is better to pay someone to do the things that Dan cannot do rather than impose impossible expectations on him.  My husband is happier and knows that I respect him for his many other fine qualities.

#5.  Learn to embrace imperfection.  Learn to laugh at yourself and your silly expectations.  I wish I had learned this long ago.  I’ll never forget a Christmas dinner with my husband and young children sitting around the table.  I put on some beautiful Christmas music, Nat King Cole singing, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…”  It was going to be the perfect Christmas dinner, just like my mom used to make.  But Dan, with his silly sense of humor, started singing, “Rudolph roasting on an open fire…”   I was so angry!  Of course, the kids loved it, but at the time, I thought he had ruined our special holiday dinner.   In truth, the only thing that ruined it was my bad attitude and silly sensibilities.  Ugh.  Sure wish I could go back and change that.

#6.  Recognize that God brought you together for a reason.  Your spouse has strengths that you don’t have.  You have strengths your spouse doesn’t have.  God brought you together for this very reason, to compliment one another.  It is a very good thing my husband and I are not alike.  I have often thought how blessed my kids are to have Dan for a dad.  His gentle, loving presence soothed many stressful moments.  He taught them (and me!) many lessons on forgiveness and grace.  He truly is a gentle giant of a man and one of God’s greatest blessings to me.

#7.  Learn to laugh at yourself.  Don’t be so sensitive and easily hurt.  One of the joys of a long shared history is that we can look back and laugh at some of the silly things we have done, or mistakes we have made.   We are secure enough in our love for one another, that we can laugh at ourselves.  Sometimes all it takes is a word to make us crack up laughing, or a song on the radio to bring us to tears.

#8.  Pray, pray and pray some more.  Make your spouse your prayer partner.  It is hard to be angry when you are praying together.  Keep God at the center of your marriage and make it your goal to serve and honor Him.  God will bless your marriage!

If you are married to your opposite, don’t give up on your marriage!  Learn to recognize and appreciate each other’s strengths and build on them.  God brought you together for a reason.

Dan and Anita 2014   Are you married to your opposite?  Let me know how you are doing.  What lessons have you learned along the way to help you in your relationship?  I look forward to  hearing from you.

The Longings of a Daughter’s Heart – I Never Knew my Father

The relationship between a father and a daughter is crucial to her emotional well-being and self-esteem.  I don’t need to read any research studies (of which there are many) to tell me this is a fact.  I see it reflected in my life and in the lives of women around me.

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Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The lack of a strong emotional bond with her daddy can have a life-long effect on a woman.  That relationship is so important that it affects a woman’s view of her relationship with God.

I grew up with a father who was a frustrated perfectionist.  He liked things to be “just so” and his way was the only right way to do things. Having seven children, you can imagine that rarely were things done to his specifications.  This led to much disappointment and frustration for dad.  He had a difficult time forgiving others and letting go of past mistakes.  He struggled to express affection verbally or physically to those around him, including his family members.  This combination of unforgiveness and lack of affection led to deep feelings of shame and unworthiness in his offspring.  His children loved him and would have done anything to win an encouraging word from him, but he was incapable of communicating praise.   It was a mark of his own brokenness, and I only bring it up to warn parents of the consequences to their children if they are modeling this kind of behavior.

You can imagine that my view of God was skewed for many years.  I knew God loved me and offered forgiveness for my sins through the blood of Jesus Christ.  John 3:16 “For God so loved the world (that means you and me!), that He gave His only begotten Son (Jesus), that whosoever (anyone!) believes in Him (Jesus) should not perish but have everlasting life.”   I understood that in my heart and I clung to that truth.  Yet for many years, the slightest mistake or failure on my part would send me running in shame from God.  I knew He must be disappointed in me and that I had proved myself unworthy of His love.  Of course, that is a lie from the pit of hell, but I battled those thoughts for many years.  Truth be told, I still battle those feelings sometimes.

My life radically changed at the age of 17 when I accepted Christ as my Savior and finally found peace and forgiveness.  Almost immediately God gave me such a love and understanding for my father.  God graciously showed me what a broken person my dad was inside.  He didn’t know to behave any different than he did.  Dad was from that generation of men who did not express their feelings.  He was the strong and silent type.  Even if he had recognized that what he was doing was wrong, he would not have known where to go for help, or dared to ask for it.

With God’s help, I was able to let go of past hurts and resentments.   I worked hard for the rest of my father’s life to build a relationship with him.  I called several times a week and traveled twice a month to visit for probably the last twelve years of his life.  I wrote letters and notes.  It took tremendous courage, but I began to hug him and tell him I loved him.  He was stiff and uncomfortable at first, but slowly, he began to respond.  I confess that for years, I cried each time he put his arms around me.  We had many conversations about his life and work.  I am thankful for every moment.

You may be wondering, “How can you say you never knew your father when you spent so much time with him?”  You see, there is a difference in spending time with someone talking about their work and their life and having real conversation.  Our conversations revolved around my dad and his work.  Topics he was comfortable talking about.  He did not initiate conversation.  He did not ask about my life, my work, my passions, my kids. He didn’t really take the time to know me.  It is a loss I feel to this day, but I chose to accept the relationship that my father was willing to give to me. I treasure the knowledge that in heaven our relationship will be the way God intended it to be.

If you are a father, please hear me when I say your relationship with your daughter is vital to her spiritual and emotional well-being.  Let your relationship with your little one be such a reflection of God’s love and grace that she can’t help but be drawn to relationship with her heavenly Father.

Maybe you see yourself having made some of the same mistakes as my dad.  It is never too late to begin a better relationship with your child.   It may take time and work to build the relationship, but start today.  Spend time with her.  Offer encouragement and guidance.  Listen.  Pray together. When she disobeys or fails you, correct her and offer forgiveness.  Your words and actions will have a life changing effect on your daughter and may determine her eternal relationship with God.     

There is an old song that always makes me think of my dad.  It is called, “The Greatest Man I Never Knew”.

I am linking this week at Word of God SpeakGrace & Truth,  Coffee for your Heart,  Looking Up Link Up,  Sitting Among Friends and Faith ‘n Friends.