After 10 years of marriage, I have finally realized the following: we just think differently. Cognitively, I knew that going in. Emotionally, it’s taken a lot longer to accept that fact. I am just now beginning to learn how to respect his viewpoint instead of trying to change it or view it as wrong because it’s different from mine. But I have to admit, there’s still a tiny part of me that says: if he would just loosen up, he would enjoy life so much more without all that planning and stress and structure! We spontaneous people really know how to have a good time, right? Of course, he is probably thinking: if she would just put some structure in place and plan ahead, she could get so much more done. So I guess it goes both ways. 🙂
I am a feeler (an INFP on the Meyer’s Briggs), who processes the world through my emotional lens. I do what my heart tells me and am often quite intuitive when it comes to other people’s feelings and needs. But I’m not so good at remembering facts and details, I tend to speak before I think (yikes!), I act first, analyze later. I’m quick to say yes, but also quick to flake out (because I say yes to everything!). My husband says my spontaneity and sense of adventure are some of the qualities he loves most about me. But I have been known to frustrate him and many of my logical, planner/thinker types from time to time when my not-so-planned out decisions affect them.
My husband, on the other hand, is logical, analytical and rational (ENTJ). He makes decisions with his head, not his heart (he can hire/fire people without getting all emotional about it. I was a supervisor once and got sick to my stomach everytime I had to fire someone!). He is also a gifted visionary (making him a great entrepreneur) who takes a long-term approach to life (as opposed to my in-the-moment nature!). He is slow to commit (I told him that I loved him after two months of dating, he waited 1.5 years to tell me he loved me – when he proposed!!!).
So you could say, we’re completely opposite. Whether you are reading this from a planner’s point of view or a non-planner, I’m hoping you might relate to (and even laugh about) some of the areas where I find the rub to most often occur:
1) Time – We view the concept of time quite differently. When I wake up in the morning, I ask myself: what fun things can I do with the kids? What interesting blog posts can I write? What articles do I feel like writing for my husband’s company? What do I feel like doing today? (Of course, I recognize there is a bit of luxury/flexibility in my schedule to even be able to ask those questions!). But the same goes for the weekends, I wake up and ask: what fun things can we do together as a family?
My husband, on the other hand, views his time as a series of buckets: 1) work 2) family 3) housework and 4) rest. And he attends to them in that order. He schedules his week and even his weekends to make sure he attends to all of his buckets. If one bucket doesn’t get attended to, he is stressed. And encouraging him to do ‘something fun’ doesn’t help.
The fun factor often gets in the way of any productivity goals I set for myself. For example, when my husband has a list of errands for me to run (because I have a lot more free time than he does), I put it on my to-do list but I will only do it after I do all the fun, life-giving things I want to do like yoga, writing 5 hour blog posts, 1-on-1 coffee with friends, and lots of creative, but quite messy activities (that require much more clean-up than I had imagined) for the kids. Errands? Bleck. No fun! And so, there is a tiny bit of frustration on his part. Now he sends me those Google invite/alert things which give me a deadline. That’s been somewhat helpful.
Our weekend goals are especially contrary in nature. I will admit, I tend to still think like a high schooler when it comes to the weekends – I want to sleep in ’til noon, then lay out all day and read a good book. I feel a tad bit lazy when, I get up at 9, still in my pjs and pouring myself my first cup of coffee, when he comes in for a water break after having already mowed the yard, weeded the garden and fertilized the yard with the kids. (Note: I have learned that his entire family needs very little sleep. The first time I stayed with them, I came downstairs around 9:30 and found all of them sitting at the breakfast table waiting for me to wake up. They had already eaten breakfast, gotten dressed and were ready to go! I’m sure they thought I was a jewel of a find for their son in that moment. 🙂
My view of a clean house is no clutter. I am not messy, my friends can attest to this. But I am not a deep cleaner, OCD type either. I don’t like things lying around the house for long periods of time. Long is relative to my mood. If the clutter gets really bothersome, but I’m not in the mood to clean, I will shove it somewhere so that it is out-of-sight, out-of-mind. My favorite hiding places are cabinets, closets and my latest place: the guest bathtub! All you have to do is close the shower curtain and voila! The pile of toys has disappeared!
My husband is very tidy (I try to remind myself that is a blessing when I’ve heard so many horror stories about husbands with disgusting habits). Unlike me, he does not want to put something away until it has a particular place to go. But like me, clutter stresses him out. I’ve tried to ‘help’ him clean out some of his clutter before and it did not go well. My common answer to clutter: throw it in the trash or take it to Goodwill. I love purging. Oh, it feels so good to get rid of stuff. But there have been instances when I have done what I thought was a loving purge of his stuff without his permission. Like the time I dumped a box of his old mixed tapes off at Goodwill (who keeps mixed tapes??). That did not go well. Apparently there were a lot of memories on those tapes.
Hands down – this is our toughest issue. Did I mention my husband is a planner? That he has an MBA in finance? That he created his own stock portfolio when he was 10 and started making his own money?
And did I mention I am in-the-moment, do-what-I-feel type who doesn’t look at price tags?
That is a bad combo when it comes to money.
When I first met my husband, he had a website called Mr.Thrifty.com. Yep. For real. He is the type who will save money wherever he can. At first I thought he was just plain stingy. But I have learned, over time, that saving money is like a game to him. He hates spending money on things he knows he doesn’t have to. That means he is willing to walk several blocks instead of choosing to valet it. He is willing to shop the sales instead of just walking into a store whenever he needs a new shirt. He is going to read and re-read the check to make sure there are no mistakes (I don’t think I’ve ever looked above the total amount of the bill – my husband or friend I am with is almost always the ‘math’ person who figures it out for me. 🙂
I, on the other hand, have had a slightly different upbringing when it comes to money. For more about that, you can read my previous post: My Love/Hate Relationship with Money. I don’t really notice price tags. I round up when it comes to tips. Like way up. And not always because I am generous. Sometimes it’s because I don’t have change. Sometimes it’s because I’m too lazy to do the math in my head. I once was a member of FOUR local gyms only because the cancellation process was so tedious (you had to send some kind of certified mail letter of resignation and I didn’t know how to do that!).
Specifically, one of our toughest issues with money is when it comes to GIVING. Like I said before, I am a feeler, an in-the-moment, go with your gut kind of person. When I see a need, be it a homeless person, a friend who can’t afford something, a missionary who is going overseas, I want to write them a big whopping check right then and there. Even though I don’t know how much is in our account.
My husband, on the other hand, is quite methodical about giving. He wants to fully understand the need, talk through it with the person, see if it fits in line with our priorities/goals of giving for that year. Basically, he has set up a budget for how much we give each year. He has taught me that it’s not wise to say yes to every need. And as difficult as that is for me to not give to someone in the moment (or even worse, have to tell them later when they keep following up!), I am learning that there is wisdom in being slow to give. Now, we pray about it and talk about it before we make a decision in that area. And sometimes, there are situations where he is willing to ‘see my way’ and give in the moment. 🙂
Marriage as a Tool
Marriage is a tough, but beautiful thing. Each year, I see it blossoming into something deeper, something more beautiful. As human beings who have been lovingly created in the image of God, wired in unique ways that reflect diverse aspects of His character, it is wonderful to recognize our unique strengths and acknowledge our weaknesses, to see the ways God has gifted us to bless others and point to Him, as well as acknowledge the areas where we need God’s help to change. It is also wonderful to know that I have a man who loves me enough to point out the not-so-pretty things in my life, to lovingly soften those hard edges, and ultimately, to point me back to the fact that just like him, I am a sinner in need of a Savior. Our marriage is grounded on the foundation that we cannot save each other, but God can. And has. Through the life and death of His Son on our behalf. That is the air our marriage breathes to keep it alive.
Thank you, Jesus, for the beautiful institution of marriage. I have learned so much about myself and my need for you over these past 10 years. We have endured some hard things but have also had a lot of fun, wonderful experiences together. Thank you for the way in which you designed marriage – to be a reflection of your faithful commitment to us. Despite our unfaithfulness, You have extended a proposal to each and everyone of us – to love and protect us, in sickness and in health, for as long as we should live. All we have to do is enter that covenant with you by saying “I do” to what Jesus offers through his death on the cross for us. Thank you, Lord. I am humbled more and more each day that I am married to this gift of a man You created. I love you, Amen