Embracing Differences…Again

A few years ago a man jumped into the air from 24 miles above the earth in a death-defying plunge from a hot air balloon. He’s the first person to reach supersonic speed without traveling in a jet or a spacecraft. He ascended 128,000 feet in a capsule which was attached to an ultra-thin hot air balloon. His descent lasted over nine minutes and his top speed was 833 miles per hour. And he lived to talk about it!

When I read a story like this I wonder what drives a person to want to do something that crazy. Do they subconsciously have a death wish? What makes me NOT want to do that? When we read about the accomplishments of others, we tend to start comparing ourselves to that person.  I wonder what made this man commit seven years of his life to a project that could have easily led to his death. It’s crazy! Just tearing his specially-made space suit on the way out of the capsule could have ended his life.

This story actually made me think about the fabric of marriage. People often marry someone who is cut from a different cloth. They don’t always approach circumstances in the same way. They don’t respond to a lot of situations in the same way and in fact they can be totally opposite from each other. That’s not unusual. 

When couples are dating or first married, they appreciate and embrace those differences. He loves her free spirit, discipline, or attention to detail—whatever it is that is not like him. Much like the planner who loves the spontaneity of their spouse who can drop everything they’re doing and go see a movie. Or the unstructured person who adores how disciplined their spouse is about organizing the “junk” drawer and always making the bed in the morning. The big-pictureperson thinks it’s great that their spouse remembers so many little details. The messy person, who leaves a trail of clothes from the bathroom to the bedroom, admires their spouse for how tidy they keep their side of the room. 

Then after several years of marriage, these differences somehow move from endearing to annoying. It’s fascinating how something that was once attractive about a person is now repelling. You now start comparing yourself to your spouse and wish they could be more like you! Initially you loved how your spouse complimented your weaknesses but then later you start seeing their strengths as weaknesses and it becomes a heavy burden in your relationship.

Those are not irreconcilable differences. They are just differences that you have to remind yourself to embrace every day like you once did. Certainly some things, like putting away clothes, helping in the kitchen, or remembering an anniversary should be addressed, but someone’s innate personality is tough to change. Remember that what you appreciated about your spouse in the beginning is what you are now trying to discourage. Your spouse is not you. That’s what you liked about them!

Of course these differences will interfere with your relationship occasionally but living with similar personalities will have the same effect. Just think about the child that is most like you in your family. Do you find they’re the toughest for you to get along with at times? Probably, but you figure it out.If everybody was alike, life would be boring and marriages would have no spark like the one created when opposites attract. I say, bring on the fire baby!