Romantic thoughts of relational bliss have their roots in fairy tales. Cinderella, the attractive young woman who was mistreated by her mean stepmother and stepsisters, finds help through a fairy godmother. A pumpkin is turned into a coach, mice become tailors and coachmen, and Cinderella captures the heart of the prince at the ball. The story ends with the declaration that they married and lived happily ever after. We think, if that can happen to Cinderella, why not to me? We need “the rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey used to say.
The greatest joy and fulfillment in marriage comes as the result of two hearts becoming one. Achieving this result involves a process that allows the uniqueness of the two individuals to be blended together. The expression of each person’s gifts enhance the relationship as each one values and supports the other without one person dominating or repressing the other.
Our own perspective is uniquely individual and when blended with our spouse’s, it gives a greater perspective to life’s circumstances and reflects the partnership God designed for marriage. This is the process that produces the fullest results from blending our lives together into one focus, one purpose, and one heart with multiple reflections as it produces fulfillment and happiness for both parties in the marriage. This is God’s perfect design.
The truth is, not every woman is Cinderella and not every man is Prince Charming! Every person is uniquely created, so there are as many personality dynamics as there are people in the world. When it comes to building a marriage partnership, every relationship is one-of-a- kind, meaning we do not uniformly reflect the people depicted on screen. When two different personalities come together, they create a unique combination that must be considered in order to grow the relationship. Each couple has to contend with their differences, all with the aim of discovering what it means, in their relationship, to become uniquely one—reflecting the partnership God designed us to experience in marriage.
As we build a partnership with our spouse, there is one aspect of our lives regardless of our individuality that all couples must address. We must address the way we communicate, deal with conflict, and make decisions to ensure that both parties are honored and represented in the relationship.
When a woman is confident, gifted, and strong, her aggressive actions and reactions may come across as dominant, controlling, or even offensive. When a man is confident but reflective and nonconfrontational, his slowness to engage can come across as passive, weak, and uncaring. If a couple with these tendencies wants to build a deep and satisfying marriage, they need to address the issues that crop up through these varied expressions of their personalities.
The passive husband is disposed toward avoiding conflict in an effort to create peace and harmony at any price. His approach makes communication less direct and more subtle, as he believes that peace and harmony can be achieved with less emotional friction. For an outgoing wife, this approach is unclear, evasive, and confusing, leaving her perplexed about her next step. The aggressive woman’s nature is to engage her husband on issues that impact their lives with little regard for peace and harmony. She is single-minded in her pursuit of connection and finding solutions to the circumstances being faced in the relationship. The assertive wife’s approach makes this process focused and direct and confrontational when needed, in an effort to arrive at an immediate result—all of which causes her passive husband to back away from an encounter with her.
The temptation with this dynamic is to build coping mechanisms to deal with our differences rather than address them. Believe us, we get that. But rather than build coping mechanisms that would allow us to “get by” or ignore and deny our frustrations until they became so toxic that we can no longer stand each other, we choose to act with faith and diligence each day to address issues in our personal lives and as a couple that produce barriers in our marriage. We refuse to allow bitterness or unforgiveness to become a part of our relationship, as we know the fruit of bitterness and unforgiveness ultimately destroys each person and the marriage by ruining the loving commitment the two people share.
While our marriage is not perfect—we are still growing and learning—we are committed to each other, we love each other, and we have learned to successfully blend our very different personalities and perspectives into a happy, satisfying marriage. We share what we have learned here with you in the confidence that God will help you apply it to your situation in just the way you need to strengthen, encourage, and connect your lives in a marriage that satisfies all your dreams and desires!