Different By Design

Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.
–Romans 15:7 nlt

Here is an actual conversation in the Jim and Cathy world as Jim sits on the extra comfy chair in the den. “Jim, what are you doing right now?” “I’m doing nothing.” “Well then, what are you thinking about as you sit there?” “I’m not really thinking about anything. I’m just sitting here relaxing.” (More intense and a bit irritated.) “Jim, you must be thinking about something!” “Honest, I am just sitting here not thinking about anything.” Cathy finally gives up. Jim just keeps on sitting, thinking about and doing nothing.

The Bible says, “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27 NLT). The same creator made men and women, but they really are made differently. For many couples, what drew them to each other now bugs them. This happened for us. You have no doubt heard the statement “Men are like waffles, and women are like spaghetti.” We have not yet met a woman who is not good at multitasking. She can talk on the phone, make dinner, help with homework, feed the dog, design the new marketing plan at work, and decide what she is going to wear for church tomorrow without skipping a beat. All the strands of spaghetti touch each other, and that seems to be how she lives best.

A man seems to be more like a waffle. He lives with little compartments in his head. He deals with the kids’ homework, and then goes back to the business plan for work. He can talk about the family finances with his wife, but when it’s over, he stores the finance facts back in their compartment and then wants to pick up on romance. There is no way she is interested in romance, because she is still juggling how they are going to pay the insurance bill on Friday.

Men even have a compartment in their head for no words. Women can hardly even imagine it. Roger and Ben went to a professional baseball game. They didn’t talk much during the game, but did make a few comments about work and baseball. Roger’s wife and Ben’s wife went to the same game. They talked throughout the entire game, cheered wildly for their team, and discussed in depth Ben’s upcoming surgery. Problems with kids, health, and last week’s sermon were also game-time topics. When Roger’s wife mentioned Ben’s upcoming surgery, Roger didn’t know anything about it. Both couples had a great time at the game.

So why do couples spend so much time trying to change their spouse? Don’t we already know it doesn’t work? The key to lasting love in your marriage is to change yourself and accept your spouse unconditionally. Nobody can change your marriage but you. You can’t manage, or control, or nag your spouse to become more like you. In fact, if you really were honest you wouldn’t want your spouse to be just like you. So appreciate the differences, accept the fact that you will look at life differently, and remember this: Your emotional well-being should never depend on another person’s meeting your expectations.

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Jim and Cathy Burns

Jim Burns is President of HomeWord. Jim speaks to thousands of people around the world each year. He has over 1.5 million resources in print in over 25 languages. Some of his recent books include: Finding Joy in the Empty Nest; Doing Life with Your Adult Children, and Have Serious Fun. Jim and his wife, Cathy, live in Southern California. Cathy Burns is the co-author of Closer: 52 Devotions to Draw Couples Together. Along with being a mom, wife and Bible study leader, she recently retired from her job as a teacher in a school for “kids who learn differently” in order to help care for her three grandchildren. Cathy and Jim met the first day in college and married one week after she graduated.

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