“Mari-i-i-i-ie!” My husband Ivo’s stressed voice rings through the house. “Where did you say my green shirt was again?”
“It’s in the closet, on the left side, between your white shirts and your jacket.”
“I can’t find it!”
I follow his voice up the stairs and into our room.
“I’m late, and it’s not where you said!”
“Don’t panic. I’ll get it.”
I poke my head in the closet for a moment and pull out the hanger with his green shirt.
“Where was it?”
“Just where I said it was. You must have missed it!”
I’ve lived through similar experiences countless times over 30 years of marriage. Before I got married, I knew that my husband-to-be functioned differently from me, but I thought I would be able to change him. When that didn’t happen, I got frustrated.
Although I still believe in the magic of love and its power to change and transform us, I realize that God has designed things so that we are not identical creatures, but rather complementary ones.
The ability to complement each other is rooted in acceptance, mutual respect, and appreciation of our differences. It is not surprising that studies on the breakdown of relationships conclude that the main cause is often a lack of communication.
Here are five pointers that have helped me do my part to make our marriage work:
1. Reminding myself of all my husband’s wonderful qualities that caused me to fall in love with him.
2. Acknowledging my own shortcomings helps me not make such a big deal about his. “Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”1
3. Forgiving as quickly as possible. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”2
4. Maintaining a good sense of humor. Marriage counselor Mark Gungor comments, “Ever walk past a mirror and are shocked by what you see? Marriage is a mirror. By living so closely with another human being, you start to get a picture of what you really look like and where you need to adjust and change.”