If thirteen years of marriage has taught me anything, it has taught me this, my wife and I are different. Shocking, I know.
Most 1st graders know there is a difference between boys and girls. Of course, we are different physically; it would be tough to procreate if we weren’t, but what I am talking about are some of the other differences that my wife and I have.
The Bible says in 1 Peter 3:7 “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”
Before I anger all of the equal rights people, I don’t believe the Bible teaches that women are the slaves of men. I see clearly in this verse though that we are different. Because of those differences we as husbands have been commanded of God to acknowledge that difference, embrace that difference, and promote that difference.
Before there can be progress, there must be acknowledgment. Many times in our marriage I have expected my wife to “act like I would.” Those have almost universally turned into battles. I have more and more come to the realization and acknowledgment that she shouldn’t do it how I would.
On the other side of that coin, I know that she too has struggled with thinking if I would only do it her way it would be better. We have recently been focusing more on how we are created differently. And that instead of seeking to be right, we must be in concert.
Once you can come to terms that you are different, it is time to embrace it. My wife and I have been working very hard on finding our differences in any situation. Instead of trying to influence the other to “our way of thinking” we have been seeking to see our complementary natures.
Example. I am the disciplinarian in our family. I always want the children to “learn their lessons”. My wife, on the other hand, is tender I would sometimes say to a fault. Instead of me trying to make her be more strict. Instead of her trying to make me softer, we need to combine our forces to make a complete parental unit.
I may show my age a bit on this one but one, of my favorite cartoons as a little guy, was Voltron. Oh, I went there. Well, I recently showed my wife this old clip that gives what I think is a good visual of this idea.
Okay, okay, I know it’s cheesy, but you get the point. When parents combine their differences, they form an unbeatable parental force.
As you start to acknowledge and embrace these very real differences in your spouse the third step is to promote them. So often we look at people who are different from us as a problem. The same is true in our marriages. But as you start to embrace the way those differences form the complete picture it becomes easy to promote those differences for the sake of unity.
My wife is a worrier; I mean “realist.” I am a great big fat dreamer who would float away if not for her tether. My tendency early in our marriage was to buck against what I felt was stifling. As I grow older, it is very clear to me that I need that rope attached. I am thankful that my wife compliments my tendency to float away by keeping me anchored in reality. Rather than looking at it as a negative, I see it as a complementary trait.
When my wife and I were dating, we had sappy pet names for each other. We would often refer to each other as Peanut Butter and Jelly. Stop snickering I know you and your spouse had them also. The reason that I bring this up isn’t just to embarrass my wife, though I think I have just accomplished that goal, but to highlight even in that silly pet name, that there was a acknowledge that we were different yet complementary.
Being a “weaker vessel” doesn’t mean we must somehow bend her to our will, quite the contrary. It means that as a leader and a husband it is our job to take the lead in recognizing there is a difference. We need to embrace it as a gift from God and promote that difference for her sake as well as the well-being of your family.
Remember this Dad next time you are frustrated by the “weaker vessel.”