When You and Your Spouse Don’t Match Up

Are you at odds with your spouse? Even with the same foundation in Christ, you could be like oil and water, completely different in form and function. Today, put away strife and take time to invest in making your make your marriage one of peace.“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. On the lips of him who has understanding, wisdom is found…” Proverbs 10:12-13a (ESV)

They are an odd, but pretty pair; the two candlesticks we have perched on the antique dresser in our master bedroom. While both are crafted from solid brass with similar round and sturdy bases, the shafts of each candlestick couldn’t be less alike.

One is straight and streamlined; not at all fancy, just functional; with tall lines, direct and strong. The second is designed with a touch of flair; two equidistant strands of brass whirl and swirl side-by-side in a “look at me” manner, as they ascend to the top of the shaft that holds the candle in place.

I found each candlestick at a different yard sale, both in the same month. While their styles aren’t the same, somehow this eclectic pair is an interesting match. And more importantly, they are a constant visual reminder to my husband and me, providing a tangible picture of our marriage.

My husband is the first candlestick. No frills. Straight-forward. Only about function. I am the second one. Crazy. Winding. All over the map. Completely about fun. While we both are “forged from brass” in that we are followers of Christ with the same spiritual foundation, pair our opposite-end-of-the-spectrum personalities together and disaster could ensue. In fact, we often joke that if in our college-courting days, we would have been able to send our profiles to an online matchmaking website, instead of pairing us up with each other, the computer screen would have blinked a bright warning. DO NOT DATE!! TOTALLY INCOMPATIBLE! 

We have a lot in our personalities that cause friction, conflict, and sometimes (mostly from me) snapping and harsh words. In fact, it doesn’t matter if it is in marriage, parenting or in a work or friendship situation, mismatched personalities can cause frustration, anger and at times, wounded feelings.

Someone who is not wired as we are, does not think like we do and who makes decisions and carries out actions we would never dream of, can just plain rub us the wrong way. It causes our feathers to ruffle and not-so-nice thoughts to invade our brains.

Mismatched Candlesticks

Usually, if dealing with a non-family member, we manage to keep our composure; tame our tongue; to not do or say anything in the midst of our frustration that we might later regret. With our children or spouses, however, sometimes we open the floodgates and spew out all sorts of cutting comments, nasty words, flying criticisms, and awful accusations. My husband and I call it “throwing flesh balls.” At that point, we are not “walking by the Spirit” but “gratifying the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).

My flesh just likes to be gratified sometimes and nothing gratifies it more than a good ole’, all-out verbal assault on my “thinks-and-acts-so-different-from-me” husband. Instead, Proverbs 10:12-13 provides direction for how we should handle the inevitable conflicts that arise from trying to mesh two very differing personality types.

We shouldn’t spew hate. We should seek to understand. We should ask God for wisdom. We should love. Not necessarily in an “ushy-gushy, touchy-feely” sort of way; but rather, in an, “I am going to choose to react gently and behave kindly because that is what God is asking me to do” sort of way. Cementing this line of thinking in our mind will help us to make the right choice. There are things we will do because we are doing them for God that we otherwise might never do for a spouse, co-worker, or friend who makes us steaming mad!

Will you join me today in purposing to stop stirring up strife when it comes to someone in your life who is oil while you are so water? Yes, even if it is your own spouse. The world is watching; sizing up how we behave. When we are one part of a divergence in personalities, what will they see? Stirred up strife or lovingly covered offenses?


Karen Ehman


Need a little encouragement in your marriage? Check out Karen’s new book, Keep Showing Up: How to Stay Crazy in Love When Your Love Drives You Crazy. It’s available for preorder now with special bonuses, including a Bettering Your Marriage challenge starting February 4.


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  1. When you think about it the greatest mismatch in history is between us and
    our God and yet we expect a great deal of interactive serenity in our life with
    Him. An intimacy and forbearance is required between us and our God which
    is or will become exponentially greater than that we share even with our
    spouses. There is the one reason this relationship with God as He
    designed it, which is our communion with Him, actually works not only now but will
    for all eternity. It is God’s selflessness which is His nature and the
    selflessness generated within us as a result of His own. It is often our
    conviction that our life with Christ and our life with our spouses require
    unselfishness of us. It is little
    understood that unselfishness is not nearly the same in nature or magnitude as
    the selflessness that is actually required of us for entry into genuine
    sanctity. Evan a cursory examination of the life of our Savior in
    scripture confirms this. In fact, a selfless disposition, one which attends
    to the needs and desires of our God rather than our own, is precisely what is
    required of us, not only for successful marriages, but for successful entry
    into eternal life with God since no detectable measure of selfishness can ever exist
    with or within Him. The next time you consider why there seems to be so
    much pain involved in your marriage, or life in general for that matter,
    consider that your difficulty is likely the answer, as it has been for me, for
    the personal sanctity which allows each of us to become not mere emulators of
    Christ, but participants in Him and the sacrifice which set us free from our
    corruption and restored to us His sonship.

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