(The following is an excerpt from my newly released book: Mr. & Mrs.: How to Thrive in a Perfectly Imperfect Marriage! You can order it now by clicking here.)
Let me tell you something you already know: from head to toe and body to soul, men and women are vastly different.
Let me tell you something else you already know: these God-created differences are the main source of marital conflict.
It’s a conundrum, I know.
If he created us “male and female,” why do our sharp edges always seem to cut those so near to us? Why would God create Adam and Eve for each other’s pleasure only for marriage to become a frequent hotbed of conflict?
Essentially, why would God make us so different knowing that those differences could lead to so much pain?
I’m a pastor, so you can imagine how many couples in conflict I’ve listened to over the years. Jeff and Tonya are a real couple (with fake names) that represent so many Christian married couples that have come through my door with their heads hung low, defeated by each other.
They were college sweethearts who quickly married after graduation. They bought a nice house, landed good jobs, popped out two great kids, and bought a mini-van. All seemed well on the outside, but they were both changing. After six years of marriage, they’d grown to hate each other and wanted to file for divorce. It’s a cliché wrapped in a Christian version of a Lifetime movie, and it breaks my heart every time I see it play out in the lives of my church members.
I’m glad to report that they did seek counseling and God worked to bring them back together. But first they had to unlearn what they had accepted as truth about marriage and then begin understanding the very different relational needs of men and women.
The Cycle of Covenant Love
Now, not all marriages suffer under the weight of looming or ongoing conflict, but all committed marriages consistently cycle through the four recurring stages of covenant love: Romance > Trouble > Disillusionment > Joy.
Most relationships start with the excitement of romance, all experience trials at some point, which typically leads to the valley of disillusionment or despair, but always ends in joy for those who stay the course. And joy leads to another season of romance!
However, if you think about it, each stage occurs because of the God-ordained differences between the sexes. And precisely half of the cycle is wonderful and intoxicating and half could be filled with bitter tears.
On this side of paradise, we’re lucky for such an even split. What I’m getting at is that men and women are different—and that’s completely OK! When God created the sexes, He knew what He was doing. Knowing and appreciating our differences is crucial to having healthy relationships with the opposite sex. Recognizing that our differences will cause us to occasionally face trouble and disillusionment can help us persevere through those times and find joy and romance again.
One of the most challenging yet fascinating aspects of covenant marriage is how God uses someone often so different from us to show us who we really are. Yet we’re prone to shrink back from this reality because it likely means we need to change in some way, or admit fault, or learn to be less self- serving. Too often, we refrain from asking ourselves the hard questions about our relationships because we fear the answers might have far too much to do with ourselves.
Even if you have yet to marry, it’s important for you understand the opposite gender’s needs and desires, which can enhance all of your relationships with the opposite sex.
Understanding leads to growth and healing.
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