“Just like the picture”: 4 Approaches to Developing the Uniqueness of Your Marriage

Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous–how well I know it.” Psalm 139:14

As a pastor, I tend to visit the same places in my city. Admittingly, I’m a creature of habit but this goes deeper than that.

I visit the same coffeehouse every day. I go to the same chicken place on Wednesdays. I get my haircut at the same location by the same person every other week. Familiarity and frequency helps me to develop connection with people in the community. It helps me develop relationships and moves conversations past “weather talk” into deeper things (this would make a great blog idea for pastors).

Last week, I had a conversation with the young lady who cuts my hair. Amidst talking about her family and the salon she manages, a statement about she only likes to cut guy’s hair. When I enquired why that was, she talked about her frustration with ladies who are excited about an image clipped out of a magazine of a someone’s hair and demand that be done to them. More often than not, they’ll leave upset that the result doesn’t “look like the picture.” She says that people don’t get the number of components that are in play with the hair styles they covet.  The type of hair, shape of head, how well they take care of their hair, etc.

In other words, customers were demanding the picture perfect results but don’t account for the factors at play.

That conversation got me thinking about how that translates to marriage. Quite often, I meet couples who take for granted the UNIQUENESS of their marriage (heck, I still do it). We chase the picture of perfection that we see in someone else and want to get there without the hard work of dealing with the individual factors you both bring.  While we all understand that we married someone quite different from ourselves, we still get frustrated. But I’m afraid many assume your individual differences compound your marital problems instead of seeing how they add into the your uniqueness. Your perspective of how you perceive your differences changes the scope of your marital health.

I love what the Psalmist says,

Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous–how well I know it.” Psalm 139:14

If we believe in the “oneness” of marriage, can we not look at our marriage in the same light as the Psalmist looked at individual lives? Your marriage is “wonderfully complex” and the “workmanship is marvelous.” And I wonder if the first step to embracing the wonderful complexity of marriage is to accept what makes you both distinct. Differences are a good thing; they’re not automatically an impairment. Just because our spouse and marriage are different doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It means we have a unique marriage and bring unique individual qualities to the marriage.

Simply said: Stop trying to achieve an image. Build your marriage from the inside out.

Finding uniqueness means that marriage will never look “just like the picture” of some else’s marriage. Don’t cookie-cutter yourselves. You may seek health, but EVERY couple works with different factors that are peculiar to your marriage. Consider…

  • Your backgrounds.
  • Your personalities.
  • Your likes and dislikes.
  • Your skill-sets.

How do you develop the uniqueness of your marriage?

1. Look at the reality. No one is perfect, and therefore, there is no perfect marriage. So my recommendation is to stop seeing perfection in others and stop expecting it in your spouse and/or marriage. The only things to expect in yourself and your spouse is humility, teamwork, and growth. In my opinion, there are only two types of marriages: Those who work on them and those who don’t. Be the first type.

2. Learn to appreciate your spouse. Vision is everything. The direction of your marriage will go in the direction of your focus. And if you learn to look for the good in your spouse, your marriage will go in that direction. Differences do not automatically mean “wrong,” many times, they simply mean “different.” And when you bring value to those differences, you bring value to your spouse.

3. Learn how to express appreciation. Silent appreciation is not appreciation at all. Let me take that a bit deeper: appreciation with strings attached is not appreciation at all. Gratitude has the ability of elevating our attitudes above bitterness. Let it be said of your home that, while you don’t have marital health figured out, you do have an atmosphere of which health can grow. And that atmosphere is “appreciation/gratitude.”  A rule that I try to enforce with my family (as well as my staff): For every negative thing, be sure to bring up two to three positives. The simplicity of the exercise will help retrain your negative mind into a more positive one.

4. Pray for blessings on your spouse and ask the Holy Spirit to bring change in you. Sometimes we can spend too much energy trying to do the work of the Holy Spirit instead of releasing Him to bring the change only He can bring.  I think we can transform our attitudes by first praying for blessing upon our spouse and then allowing the needed change in our marriage to BEGIN with ourselves. Humility in the heart paves the way for the formation of healing and health.

When it boils down to it, the more you follow a “perfect image” of a marriage that you’ve seen on social media or in someone you know, the more you’ll wind up frustrated in your marriage. The more you follow a Perfect Savior, the more you’ll see your imperfections and see an opportunity for His grace to shine through your marriage.  The two of you, as a unit, are “wonderfully complex” and His “workmanship is marvelous.” Today…

Be the blessing your marriage needs.
Be the change your marriage needs.
Love your spouse through the love you’ve received from Christ.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

 

 

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