If Opposites Attract, How Can We Get Along?

If Opposites Attract, How Can We Get Along?

Do opposites really attract? In many marriages it seems so. No two people are exactly alike, but if opposites attract how can you build a functioning harmonious marriage?

You were initially attracted to your spouse in part by ways in which they were different from you. Vive la différence! Now those differences make life more challenging. He always seemed so strong and stable, not swayed by feelings, a perfect complement to your emotional vulnerability. Now his stability seems cold and distant. Her spontaneity and fun-loving nature gave you a new window on life your reserved personality needed. Now her mood changes drive you crazy.

Intellectually you may accept that you don’t have the right to make your spouse over in your own image; only God has that right. And yet deep personality differences can easily make many marriages much less than peaceful. But when approached in a healthy way differences don’t have to lead to conflict.

How can the two of you become one when you are so different? Fighting, withdrawing, and miserable détente aren’t good options. Conflicts over intimacy, money, household responsibilities, in-laws, and more are frequently rooted in core personality differences, and learning to deal with those differences constructively will improve your relationship greatly.

Here are some ways to move forward in several specific push-pull areas many couples struggle with. Simply understanding your spouse’s unique personality better may well decrease the tension between you. And then we’ll discuss three foundational ideas important in dealing with any “differences” between you and your spouse.

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When Is It Abuse?

When Is It Abuse?

God designed marriage to be a transformative, healing, growth-producing, fulfilling relationship full of intimacy and love. In our sinful messed-up world that doesn’t always happen. Some would say marriages fulfilling God’s design this way are a true exception. But how bad is bad enough? Your marriage may be troubled, but when is it abuse?

More marriages end because of neglect than trauma. Simply because you are unhappy or your spouse is not meeting your needs does not equal abuse. Yet the reality remains that some marriages do involve serious and damaging abuse even among Christians. What then?

The troubled spouses I talk with tend to fall into two categories. There are those who are unhappily married and are consciously or unconsciously maximizing their spouse’s bad behavior almost hoping it qualifies as abuse so they can feel less guilty about leaving. If you’re in a marriage like this you have certainly suffered wounds from your spouse, and your misery is real.

Another category are those spouses, usually wives, who are struggling in a destructive marriage that is truly abusive. They feel powerless to leave because of physical threats, extreme psychological control, and/or toxic religious pronouncements around submission. “God hates divorce” has been forged into a chain and used as a weapon of control and destruction.

As Leo Tolstoy’s Ana Kerenina begins, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Your marriage is unique, and only you and God know the realities you are living with. But these ideas can help you understand whether or not your own marriage is abusive. Looking at the truth may be difficult, but it can also be liberating.

Here are some things to consider in asking, when is it abuse?

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How God Uses Marriage to Heal You

How God Uses Marriage to Heal You

God uses marriage to heal you. It’s one of the most important and effective tools He uses to bring you the healing and transformation you need.

If you’re in a miserable or dysfunctional marriage that may seem completely contradictory. How can I experience healing when my spouse is emotionally unavailable, won’t communicate, continues to cause me pain, refuses to understand me, and withholds intimacy? I need healing FROM my marriage!

You’re right; you married a sinner. You married someone who doesn’t meet your needs and keeps wounding you over and over again.

But your spouse married a sinner too – YOU. You don’t meet their needs and you keep wounding your spouse over and over again too.

Didn’t God know marriage would cause so much pain? Couldn’t He have created us without these needs and desires?

Yes, He could have. But without marriage we would be deprived of one of God’s most effective tools through which we experience our need of Him as well as His healing and transformation. Some of His best miracles only happen in the impossible environment of marriage.

(Note: Trauma, abuse, and violence is always wrong. If you are in an abusive marriage, get help right away.)

Here are some of the most important ways in which God uses marriage to heal:

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Pornography and your Christian Marriage

Pornography and your Christian Marriage

If the gospel is good for anything it must have an answer to the worst problems humans face. As believers we know that intellectually, but the body of Christ frequently hides from some of the really bad stuff. Pornography and your Christian marriage may seem like things that should not be said in the same sentence. But in 21st century culture it’s something we must acknowledge, and find God’s answer for.

I hear from people every week who struggle with this. I hear from the small-church pastor who feels he has no one to help him out of his addiction to pornography, the godly wife who just found out her husband has been watching porn for years, the young Christian woman who weeps in shame over her continued failure to stop engaging in internet pornography.

Although statistically more men than women get hooked by sexually-charged images and videos, pornography is an equal-opportunity destroyer. Men and women, married and single, Christian and unbeliever, young and old – it affects them all. Our sexualized society spends multi-billions of dollars on this. It starts young; your ten-year-old (or younger) can watch it on their cell-phone while riding the bus to school. (That’s a whole article – or book – in itself!)

Dr Juli Slattery, psychologist, author, and media professional, has stated that she no longer asks couples whether pornography is an issue for them; she asks what role pornography is playing in their relationship.

So what is a Christian to do? Refusing to address pornography is putting your head in the sand, especially if you’re married or contemplating marriage. But as with all human brokenness God has an answer – if you’re addicted, if your spouse is addicted, or if you want to proactively protect your marriage.

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Your Spouse’s Bad Behavior: 5 Things to Do

Your Spouse’s Bad Behavior: 5 Things to Do

Your spouse’s bad behavior can make your life seem as though it’s falling apart. Your psyche is stretched to the limit, and you’re not sure how much longer you can survive if things don’t change. You could really use some concrete ways to move forward, or at least a clear way to think about things.

I hear from spouses every day:

  • “My husband refuses to get help for his gambling and substance abuse. He won’t even acknowledge he has a problem.”
  • “My wife is only after me for my money and spends irresponsibly. She refuses to engage in intimacy or conversation.”
  • “My husband has had a mistress for several years. He keeps promising to cut things off with her, but he’s back with her again.”
  • “I’m always walking on eggshells around my husband. I never know what will cause him to fly into a rage. I live in fear.”

You’ve tried to change your spouse – unsuccessfully. You’ve threatened, cried, put up with, tried to let it go, ignored, waited, and anything else you can think of. Perhaps you’ve tried to get professional help and read anything you can find on the subject. You’ve prayed and prayed, and things are still the same. Am I stuck with this miserable marriage forever? Is this “bad enough” for a divorce? Why doesn’t God fix my marriage when I keep asking Him to?

If you want the same results, keep doing the same thing. If you don’t, it’s time for a change. Time for YOU to change.

Feeling emotional, powerless, and desperate is understandable. But decisions made from that mindset almost never result in a good outcome.

No marriage is perfect. You and your spouse are both sinners. However, thoughtfully working through the following 5 areas will provide a framework for you to move forward.

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