Married To An Opposite

  • Randy Karlberg
Couple drinking coffee together

So they say that an intriguing title can be one of the main attractions to get you to read a particular piece.  Well in this case I am not so focused on drawing attention to this blog as much as I couldn’t think of anything else to title my thoughts.  What I want to talk about is one of the differences between my wife and myself.  When my wife Lana and I first got engaged, people who knew us congratulated us saying flattering remarks of how we were perfect for each other.  I remember one friend that I grew up with saying to me, “Lana is you only in a female body.”  I really don’t think she was trying to be creepy.  What these people were trying to tell us is that Lana and I had a lot in common, and they were excited for us to enjoy life together as husband and wife.  We went into our marriage thinking that basically we were so similar to each other that we would enjoy life together with uncommon oneness.  Now I will thankfully admit that Lana and I do enjoy oneness in our marriage.  But this came with a great deal of work and growth.  It was not due to our being so similar.  We do enjoy many of the same things which is very helpful in a marriage.  Our faith and our philosophy on parenting are two things where we hold very similar beliefs.  Again, this helps us in a huge percentage of our life together.  But what we soon found out was that we were very different indeed.  There were, and are, many things that we just don’t do or think the same way. 

One of the areas in which we are very different from each other is in the way we relate to people.  If you have ever met Lana, you know that she is a people person.  It is how God made her!  I am very thankful for that.  I enjoy people too, just not to the same extent that Lana does.  Now it may be a tad disconcerting for a pastor to admit, but I have my limits when it comes to social interaction and I get fatigued from too many social settings.  My wife is the opposite of me in this way.  She gets energized with social interaction.  That is why she is always ready for the spur of the moment outing with people.  I love her spontaneity, and yet I often need time to regroup and rest from people.  And guess what?  That is how God made me.  

So how does a couple who are opposites in the social realm make their marriage work?  Let us know when you figure it out!  No, I am just kidding.  But it does take work to be able to not only allow each of us to enjoy those things that give us joy in life but also to appreciate the difference in our spouse.  And that is really what I want to tell you about. I have learned through the years to genuinely appreciate how my Sweetheart loves people!  Now, I can say that I don’t always understand, but I am thankful for her heartfelt love for others because it is so good for her and for those that she makes feel special.  She is good at making others feel loved.  Our kids surprised her last week with a Birthday dinner where they each took turns saying something about their mother.  And each of them, independent of each other, said that one of the things they appreciated about her was how they knew she always loved them, and the example she was of how to love others.  I have come to truly admire how Lana invests in other people.  And that took me a while to understand.  But I now am humbled at my wife’s example and am challenged to do a better job of loving people myself.  

Jesus clearly told us in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  The way we love other people has a direct correlation as to how we are viewed as disciples of Jesus Christ.  And don’t quickly dismiss that this is a “command” from Jesus to His people.  We are to love other people because we have been, and are loved, by Jesus.  This is not only that we should love other believers.  Remember Jesus also said in Matthew 5 to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”  In Philippians 2:1-4 the Apostle Paul tells us that we are to love others as Jesus did and to consider others as more important than ourselves.  “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.  Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”  I know that this charge from Paul cuts straight to my heart, and I have to believe that I am not the only one.  I am convicted, and not from my wife, that I need to regularly realize that my life is not my own and I need to willingly consider the needs of others as more important than my own.  Look at Jesus’ time on this earth.  He was continually allowing himself to be interrupted by other people.  He served others until he was exhausted.  Now also remember that He did give Himself time to rest!  But His main focus was on meeting the real needs of others.  

So there are two things that I have hoped to get across to you in this blog.  First, we must always be considering the needs of others and how we can share Christ’s love with them in actions and words.  Second, marriage takes time and a good deal of work to have two individuals become one as God intended.  Just figuring out how to deal with your spouse is not God’s intent for marriage!  We are told in Genesis 2:24, “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”  Honoring God in our marriage as He intended means that we hold on to, or cleave to, our spouse and we become one flesh with them.  This means that we are to not just exist with our spouse, rather we are to treasure them as God’s special picked provision for us.  This is in all ways including emotional and physical.  So I am realizing that becoming one flesh with my wife is learning the lessons through my wife that God has for me to learn and appreciating her in the special way God has made her!  It does take work, but it is work that God and I have to do on me.