I think I can safely say that the majority of marriage relationships are built on shared values, beliefs, goals and interests. Maybe you fell in love You and your spouse may share a lot of things but there are bound to be differences between the two of you. I've always heard people telling couples that you will have to recognize that you and your spouse will have differences, and that you will find ways to work around them and agree on things. And yes, that is true, but I also believe that your differences can make your marriage better if you embrace them and view them as a strength!
Your Differences Make You a Powerhouse Team
Having differing opinions, unique interests and your own individual tastes makes your partnership that much greater! Your differences help maintain balance in your home and turns the two of you into a powerhouse couple. The key to making this work is embracing your differences and recognizing their ability to do good things for your marriage and your family.
One of mine and Joe's differences is the way that we clean. For the first part of our marriage, cleaning was a constant topic of contention in our marriage. Then we realized that although we don't necessarily clean the same way or to each other's standards, we each have areas that are our strength and that we like to clean to perfection. Our weekly cleaning routine reflects those differences in a good way. For example, while I tackle the kitchen, Joe cleans the bathrooms.
Your Differences Provide You With a New View
"Two heads are better than one" right? I love that marriage gives you the opportunity to see things from another point of view. Your spouse loves you unconditionally, and has your best interests in mind. If you share your ideas and opinions with each other in a respectful way and listen with an open mind, your world could be opened to a whole new slew of possibilities.
When I've been humble enough to accept Joe's suggestions, I've learned things that have made me a better person. I know that Joe is on my team and he wants me to succeed but he also wants me to be the best me that I can be. The things that he offers me in response to situations that I am in help me to see where I may not be using all of my strengths or giving someone the benefit of the doubt or being the best person that I can be. Be grateful for the opinions and view of situations that your spouse has!
Your Differences Introduce You to New Things
We all have our favorites; favorite restaurants, favorite movie genres, favorite hang outs, favorite hobbies, etc. While you and your spouse might have similarities in a lot of these areas, I'd bet that you a lot of your "favorites" are different from each other as well. The beauty of this is that you can share new things with each other and find new things that you enjoy. I'm grateful for the new things that Joe has introduced into my life. I never watched action/adventure movies on my own, and they're still not my go to when I feel like watching a movie, but I always enjoy going to see the newest action movie with Joe for date night.
I remember the day that Joe and I went to Cafe Rio, I ordered my usual tostada and he ordered a sweet pork burrito. I'd never had the sweet pork burrito before, and he insisted that I try a bite. After that one bite, I'm pretty sure that I ate five or six more, it was so good. To this day, I still order salads because that burrito has too many calories for me to justify enjoying it, but I'll always sneak a bite or two of his. Even when we're going out for pizza, everyone's favorite food, I've been encouraged to try new things and I've encouraged Joe to try new things, and we've both been introduced to flavors that we never would have thought to eat before.
Your Differences Keep Life Exciting
We all fall into our own routines based on our preferences and views in life. I have specific days that I clean the house, a specific order that I clean each room in and certain products that I like to try. I plan ahead and try to keep life very organized. Joe has brought spontaneity to my life and shown me new ways of doing things. I sometimes struggle when my routines are thrown off or my plans get thrown out the window, but it keeps life exciting and I've grown as a person because of it.
Your Differences Challenge You
You have the choice to let your differences divide you or bring you together. You can choose to fight every single day over the way that your spouse chooses to do something or you can combine both of your preferences and make a better one! Joe and I have gotten into disagreements over things as simple as whether or not you put cinnamon in the French Toast dip or not. But like many couples, we've butted heads over bigger issues like money, parenting, or our relationships.
When I married Joe, he told me that one of his favorite meals was Broccoli Chicken Casserole. I made it for him one night and he liked it but later made the comment that his mom's had rice in it. Instead of choosing to be upset that my casserole wasn't as good as his mom's or telling him that this was the way I was going to make it, I asked his mom for her recipe. Then I combined the two because there were things about my the recipe my mom made growing up that I liked. I added the rice, because it was something that Joe had mentioned and combined a few other parts. We have three recipes now, each of our mom's recipes and the one that I created using our favorite parts of those recipes.
When we started talking marriage, Joe and I also started talking about finances. We quickly realized that there were some big differences between us in the money department; I am a spender and Joe is a saver. Joe was big believer in saving money and not spending on anything that you don't absolutely need. He also believes in investing and saving for retirement. I remember once when I came home from Target with a cute new shirt and was so proud of the deal that I'd gotten on it, and his immediate response was, "If we invested that $12, it would be $XXX by the time we retire" (I obviously don't remember the amount it would be or have any clue how he did that math, but it was a lot more money than $12). I smiled at him, let him know how happy that shirt was making me right that moment, and we dropped it. Friendly back-and-forth like this are a common occurrence in our marriage to this day, but that first one is an experience that I will always remember.
Fast forward a few years in our marriage and I had a realization in the middle of a conversation that Joe and I were having. We were sitting down to go over our monthly budget and were discussing the amount of money that we were spending at restaurants, which was higher than we wanted, resulting in us not being able to put as much into savings as we should. During our discussion, the number of times that Joe was stopping at the drive-thru for breakfast on his way to work came up. After Joe jokingly pleaded his case and told me how easy it was for him to stop and how delicious his breakfast was every morning, I piped in with my thoughts. I totaled up the amount that he'd spent on just his breakfast habit during the previous month, told him the number and then jokingly asked, "If we invested that money, how much would it be by the time we retire?" We both started laughing.
Not only were Joe and I balancing each other out in our marriage, we were picking up some of the other's habits and making ourselves an even better team than we'd been before. I've never been as into saving and investing as Joe has, but because of his influence, I've developed a passion for looking for deals and finding ways to save money on the things that we need. I've also learned to consider purchases before I make them and decide whether they're something that I really need/want and am willing to spend money on at the moment. All of the money that we save is money that we are able to save and invest, or with my influence, use to do something fun together in the future.
Your differences have the power to strengthen your marriage relationship, making you a better team and better as individuals. Or they can become a constant source of contention and upset and you'll have the same arguments over and over again for the rest of your life. I think the key here is humility and team work. You have to be willing to say that your way might not be the only or even the best way to do things, and then the two of you have to be willing to work together to find what will benefit your family and your relationship the most. We embraced our differences instead of just accepting them and as a result, we were able to better ourselves as individuals and become a better team at the same time. We still have areas of our marriage to work on, but I like to think that we're making good progress!
What differences do you and your spouse have that make you a great team and better your marriage?