Saturday, January 17, 2009

Puzzles and Glue

It's interesting to me how creative God is. So many people in the world, and no two are exactly alike. Even identical twins whose appearances are in fact so identical that even their own loved ones may be challenged to discern are each given their own distinctive personalities.

Truly it's the personality differences in people that I am reflecting upon today. There are so very many variables and such a wide range. You have the driven to the lazy, you have the "Type A's" to the total "go with the flow"-ers, those who must have every moment planned and those who live life in constant spontaneity. I am also reflecting on the fact that, in my own experience at least, so many polar opposites choose to commit their lives to one another in marriage.

I'm wondering what causes that to happen. Is it because they are drawn to something they don't find in themselves? Is it because it truly creates some sort of balance in the relationship? Are they just crazy? I mean, truly when you marry someone nothing like you, it has the potential to create a lot of drama and havoc, doesn't it?

Well, I don't want to sound all doomsday-ish. I married a man who is nothing like me, and almost 18 years later, I still want to be here, still love him dearly and am looking forward tot he days when it's just the two of us again. I love my kids, I'm not rushing, just like thinking about those days that I hope the Lord will bless us with many of.

I am a planner, to the core. If it isn't written down, it isn't going to happen. If I haven't had a couple days to mentally and emotionally prepare for it, it's probably not going to work for me. Neal on the other hand lives for the spontaneous. He would like nothing better than to just get in a car and drive, see where he ends up. We've done it a few times, not long trips but evening drives, and all I can think about is whether or not we might get lost, and if we find ourselves on a winding road, well, forget about it! That's tortuous!

I am a very critical thinker. I analyze everything and everyone, I am suspicious in nature and always wondering what someone else's motivation might be. Neal, on the other hand, always sees the best in people, and always gives them the benefit of the doubt. (I just give them the doubt.) He's one of those "never me a man he didn't like" types. (Who was that, was it Roy Rogers?)

There is an upside to the critical analytical mindset (I'm not all bad) in that I am a little like a boy scout, always prepared for any surprise that might come my way. Of the two of us, Neal is more likely to find himself "up the creek without a paddle." I'm more likely to have brought the spare.

I'll be honest, in the early years of our marriage the differences tended to cause some strife. When you have kids they become more challenging. But over the years we've learned to work together despite the differences. At times we've even learned to benefit from one another in our differences. (Like a wife who packs an extra paddle on a trip up the creek - that's handy!)

I think in my case I picked someone who I admire for (most of) the ways he's different from me. I like that Neal sees the good in people, I like his outgoing ways, and the way he's comfortable just being himself, not worrying about what other people think of him.

All the joys and challenges that come from the differences though are trumped by the things that are the same. Commitment. Neal and I are in it for the long haul. Good times or bad, hard times or sad, we are committed to our marriage and our family. Friendship. Neal and I are friends first. "Being in love" or at least feeling like it can be hard at times. When things are hard romance can be elusive, but friendship is what brings you alongside one another and helps you fight with each other in the trials instead of against each other. Faith in Christ. It's the Cornerstone of a good marriage, at least it is the cornerstone of our marriage. Knowing what you believe, in Whom you believe and believing it together, it's what makes the commitment and friendship possible. It's what keeps you together when it seems nothing else can.

A good marriage is being able to weather the storms, being determined to do it together at all costs. It is appreciating your differences, even celebrating them, and being able to build on common ground. You take two pieces that by appearance would probably never work, then you bring them closer and realize they are puzzle pieces and a perfect fit, then you glue them in place and they make a masterpiece to be admired.

Well, this isn't what I intended to blog on, but sometimes it goes where it goes... My original title when I started was "Black and White," guess that thought process will have to work itself out another day.