Most—if not all—of us are familiar with the frequently quoted phrase, “Opposites attract.” That is indeed true of my marriage to my spouse, Drew. We are opposites.
For those familiar with Myers Briggs, his personality type is ISTJ; mine is ENFJ. In short, he’s an introvert; I’m an extrovert. He’s analytical and logical; I try to be, sometimes. He tends to be unemotional; I experience the full spectrum of human emotion.
I knew we were different before we tied the knot, but after four and a half years of marriage, our differences seem even more pronounced now. But I now see how the Lord continues to use our differences to grow our love for the Lord and for each other. In this post, I want to share three lessons I’ve learned from being married to my opposite.
1. I’ve learned to value, appreciate, and celebrate Drew for his different strengths and personality type.
In every small group setting, I have an inner dialogue that goes something like, “Hey, stop talking”—extrovert. I can assure you, Drew has never had that same inner dialogue—introvert.
When we dated and early on in our marriage, I’d leave a small group setting constantly disappointed because Drew did not engage with my friends and family in the ways I hoped. But over time, I’ve come to value how Drew engages with others. For example, when we’ve served as table leaders for Merge, Watermark’s premarital ministry, I’ve watched Drew listen intently to the couples at our table, ask thoughtful questions, and encourage each person to talk. I now approach every small group setting with the desire to do the same—to be more others’ focused—as that is the call on my life as a Believer (Philippians 2:4).
God has similarly changed my perspective on Drew’s tendency to be unemotional. While his lack of emotion can sometimes make it difficult for me to connect with him, he’s able to remain calm and steadfast when faced with trials (James 1:12). I’m more prone to anxiety and worry when storms hit, so I’m constantly encouraged and challenged by how Drew endures difficult seasons.
2. I’ve learned to value, appreciate, and celebrate my strengths and personality type.
Our differences have also helped me recognize the unique ways the Lord has gifted me. Drew often reminds me that I’m able to build relationships well and celebrate others with great joy.
For example, we have great relationships with our neighbors as I take just about every opportunity to engage with them. We recently had them over for dinner. To go further, I love sending birthday videos to friends and family and find that someone else’s celebration—whether a wedding, birthday, job promotion, birth of a child—brings me immense joy too. This is completely natural to me, but Drew reminds me that for him, it takes great intentionality to build relationships like I do.
As Drew and I both work to value each other’s differences, we have found it helpful to consider 1 Corinthians 12. In it, Paul describes how diversity within the church is essential to its vitality. Just as the human body is comprised of different parts that each play a vital role, so too, do individuals in the body of Christ possess different spiritual gifts that work to bless others and glorify God.
Similarly, Drew and I would argue that our differences have strengthened our marriage, brought us closer to Jesus, and helped us bless others to a greater degree—we’re a team with unique but complementary gifts.
3. I’ve learned to adapt to Drew’s different love languages.
Drew’s love languages are acts of service and quality time. Mine are words of affirmation and physical touch.
Early in our marriage, I effusively told Drew how much he meant to me. I sent him texts that were more like short novels that elaborately expressed all the reasons I loved him. His response was often the same: “Love you too.” No exclamation point and no emojis: What?!? Is that even legal?!?
While I know he still appreciates words of affirmation to some degree, it’s never going to really do it for him. Slowly, I’ve learned that acts of service for him go a long way: cooking, cleaning the house, planning a date, making a photo book of our family.
In The Meaning of Marriage, author and pastor Timothy Keller makes this insightful point:
“God expressed his glory to us in a form we could relate to—human form. In the incarnation, God came to us in a manner that we could grasp. So we, too, must clothe our love in the forms to which our spouse can relate. We must communicate love in the way our spouse needs it” (Pg. 154).
The Lord demonstrated His love by becoming fully man while remaining fully God. In the same way, I can adapt how I love Drew by loving him in the way he receives it best. Adjusting how I show Drew love has made our marriage better and has also served as a continual reminder to me that Jesus loved me enough to come to me “in a manner [I] could grasp.”
Identify a personality trait in your spouse that you don’t have. How has that trait blessed you, your marriage, and/or others?