Before we got married, 37 years ago, we went through a premarital counseling class with our pastor. During one of our meetings he asked everyone in the group to raise their hand if they were compatible with their fiancé. All twenty of us raised our hands high, only to have the pastor tell us we were all wrong. We were sure he was crazy. After all, we had known each other for eighteen months and were convinced we were perfect for each other in every way. The pastor explained, “No two people are perfectly compatible. A great marriage is not based on a man and woman being perfectly compatible, but rather on a husband and wife learning to effectively manage their incompatibilities.”
Within just a few months of marriage, we knew what he meant. Instead of panicking and thinking we must have married the wrong person, we understood we must begin to gain skills to manage our incompatibilities. Here are 3 steps that will help you reconcile your personality differences.
- Recognize that differences are not right or wrong – We are all created in the image of God. Yet we are also each uniquely different. These differences are not right or wrong. In fact, the more we learn to embrace the differences we each bring into the marriage, the more we will understand how our different personalities complement and complete one another. Our compatibilities as well as our incompatibilities are both part of God’s design for our marriages. They draw us into the oneness that God intended for us in marriage.
- Take a personality test – One way we grew to understand our personality differences better was by taking the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) personality assessment (You can find numerous versions of this personality test online for free). When we took the MBTI®, we both had “aha” moments. We saw that we each had very different personality types in respect to how we manage our lives. We became more understanding and accepting of our different styles. We realized we both accomplish everything we need to get done. We just approach it differently.
- Realize your different skills and abilities make for a better team – God created you and your spouse with unique personalities that reflect His image in each of you. These different personalities present distinct skills and abilities that can help you accomplish greater things in marriage if you view your differences with respect and appreciation. Or these differences can cause marital discord if you view your way as the best or only way. Think in terms of operating as a team. A baseball team wouldn’t function if every team member were a pitcher. The team needs different players with different skillsets in order to win the game. You both bring different skillsets, talents, and abilities into your marriage. Embrace these and operate as a team.