Personality Differences In Marriage

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The saying "opposites attract" is true, but personality differences in marriage can make or break a happy home. No two people are alike and no one is expected to agree on everything all of the time; but polarized differences in emotional makeup can either provide the fodder for marital success or fan the flame of marital disaster. When couples marry, they not only bring excess emotional baggage into the relationship, but also likes and dislikes that can challenge the best of romantic bonds. The key to a lasting relationship is to find a middle ground whereby two individuals can coexist within the bonds of holy matrimony without discord. Instead of waging a constant cold war and continual power struggle, couples must learn how to give and take and walk in agreement as much as possible, if they want to stay married. "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" (Amos 3:3).

Consider the following scenario: a young couple is experiencing personality differences in marriage that could potentially become troublesome. June Robinson is a 24 year old career woman with a Type-A personality. A highly motivated marketing professional with energy to burn, she is outgoing, loves to socialize and is involved in several community outreach programs which, along with her career, require frequent out of town travel. June loves to dine out at new restaurants, attend the theater, and shop at area boutiques. Conversely, June's husband, Anthony, is a quiet stay-at-home guy whose greatest joy is tinkering with old cars and feeding the fish in his coy pond. He would be labeled a Type-B personality: a loner who tends to be introverted, but is self-motivated. Anthony does not like to travel, prefers home cooked meals, and hates to shop because of the crowds.

The personality differences in marriage experienced by the Robinsons may stem from childhood experiences and upbringing. June may have been brought up in a busy household with other siblings who engaged in lots of social activities. She probably developed verbal communication and social skills early in life and feels more at ease with people than Anthony. Conversely, her husband's tendency to prefer being alone might be indicative of a childhood with either too much or too little social interaction. Sometimes children in noisy, overcrowded home environments become introverts as adults. Those who grew up in isolated settings-- perhaps as an only child--may also develop a Type-B personality. Because of their personality differences in marriage, statistics indicate spouses like June and Anthony will likely wind up divorcing after the first two or three years of marriage; and certainly have little prospects of growing old together, since there is obviously very little in common.

When couples with diametrically opposed personality differences in marriage have trouble finding common goals, aspirations and dreams, they may sacrifice individuality to please a spouse who does not share similar likes and dislikes. For instance, a social butterfly like June will never be content to stay at home and miss out on all the fun of meeting new people, dining out and shopping. Anthony may eventually resent June's disinterest in his hobbies. As the two pursue separate interests, personality differences in marriage may cause them to grow apart or gravitate to someone of the opposite sex who shares interests more than their mate. But, becoming emotionally involved with someone outside of the marriage can lead to infidelity, or worse-- divorce. "The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time that ye may give yourselves to fasting and payer; and come together again, that satan tempt you not for your incontinency" (I Corinthians 7:4-5)

Partners with polarizing personality differences in marriage can resolve issues by agreeing to disagree-- in other words, allowing those differences to work for and not against the relationship. Instead of resenting or begrudging one spouse's penchant for things that disinterest the other, couples should encourage mates to occasionally enjoy hobbies and past times alone. If each partner feels free to express themselves as individuals, they will value shared moments even more. Allowing husbands and wives to enjoy a part of their life that is not shared may actually strengthen the relationship. The Robinsons should set aside an evening when June can have a night out at the theater, preferably with a female friend or close relative. Stay-a-home Anthony can still enjoy tinkering in the garage, as long as he is mindful to keep a balance and spend quality time with June.

The beauty of holy matrimony is that it is constantly evolving, as are the partners who choose to wed. As the love between husbands and wives matures over the years, couples will find themselves growing together and putting into proper perspective the big and small issues that faced on a daily basis. Individual likes and dislikes will lessen as each discovers that special oneness that can only be found in marriage. To make wedlock work, couples should also find an activity or hobby that interests them both. The willingness to compromise is crucial! Personality differences in marriage don't have drive a couple to the divorce courts. Opposites can attract when each party works hard to compromise and find a middle ground on issues that are important to one another while maintaining a level of individuality.

Personality Differences That Complement

There are certain personality differences that complement and provide a balance in marriage. While husbands and wives with diametrically opposed emotional makeup can clash, some differences actually strengthen the marital bond, especially in areas of decision-making, child rearing, and finances. A good marriage requires trust, communication and balance, or influence that counteracts the effect of another. Differing yet complementary personalities enable couples to see from varying perspectives and weigh options objectively. There are always two sides to the coin and it takes each partner's astuteness to win at the game called marriage. "And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand" (Matthew 12:25). Couples with opposing personalities must strive to make those differences work and to avoid dividing the "house."

In areas of decision making, personality differences that complement may be a result of gender. Some say men are from Mars, but they are also typically analytical and only want the facts; while women tend to rely more on feelings than fact. But in decision making there is a place for both analytical and emotional thinking. A teenager may ask to use the family car for prom night; but Dad's first thought is,"How much is it going to cost in gas and will our insurance cover Junior for one night?" Mom's first reaction will be for Junior's safety. Will he be tempted to drink and drive? Who are his date's parents and would they approve of Junior driving her to the prom? By combining Dad's concern about auto insurance with Mom's concern about safety, the two of them can make a good decision about whether to allow Junior the use of the family car.

Weightier decisions like whether to buy a new house or save for college also benefit from personality differences that complement and add balance to counteract negative influences. When house hunting, wives will first consider whether the home has adequate space, ample bedrooms and bathrooms, and whether it is located near good schools. Esthetic appearance is another concern for females. Is the flooring hardwood, laminate, or carpet? Is there crown molding? Are the appliances white, stainless steel, or black? Is there a pool or game room for the kids, or a separate tub shower for soaking? Conversely, a man's main concern during the hunt for a suitable home is overall square footage, the amount of the monthly house payment, and the existence of an attached garage for his "toys." So what is the right perspective? Both! Taking advantage of personality differences that complement enables families to make the right decision for the common good. A beautiful home with all the amenities meets the wife's criteria for esthetic appeal; while obtaining a beautiful home at an affordable price satisfies the husband's.

In child rearing, personality differences that complement keeps parents from being blindsided and giving into children's sometimes irrational demands. Kids are prone to playing mom against dad, especially when it comes to getting what they want. Typical teenage behavior might include asking Mom for permission to go to a movie with full knowledge that they have been grounded by Dad for two weeks. Children who choose to "divide and conquer" parents are not ignorant about mom and dad's personality differences that complement. They will be sure to try to keep an emotional, yet discerning mother from detecting an effort to deceive an analytical dad. The way to circumvent deceptive children is for parents to communicate. Adopt a policy of checks and balances: when a child approaches one parent with a request, that parent must first check with their spouse before responding. The kids will soon realize that though Mom and Dad are different, they present a formidable and singular opponent when it comes to detecting deception. What parents are trying to achieve is balance: knowing when to be permissive and when to wield the rod of correction. In child rearing, parents must discover how to make the best use of two distinctly different behavioral and emotional traits to provide balance, discipline, love and support.

When it comes to finances, defining personality differences that complement helps to keep the household budget balanced. If the husband is a spendthrift who habitually wastes money on fancy electronics or tools he never uses; hopefully, he has a cost-conscious, penny pinching wife or they will soon go broke! An absolute financial disaster is money in the hand of two spendthrifts. But a husband and wife who cooperate and collaborate when it comes to spending money will have no problem making ends meet. The best way to take advantage of personality differences that complement in family finances is to allow the spouse with the best money management skills to take the lead. If a husband knows he cannot handle money, there is no shame in bringing home his paycheck and giving the wife control over how it is spent. A small amount of money on a debit card allows Dad a measure of control and the liberty to spend whatever he needs at the gas pump, lunch with coworkers, or just for fun. Mom can pay the bills without worrying where the money is going. Similarly, if the wife is an impulsive shopaholic, the husband should take control of the family finances. For a lasting marriage, there is no substitute for teamwork. When couples discover how individual emotional and behavioral traits --though distinctly different--work together for the good of the whole family, everyone wins!



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