What I’ve Learned from Being Married to My Opposite

As an artist, I’ve always been attracted to contrast and paradox appearing on the same surface or composition.  Little did I know the same would hold true for attraction in a mate. I fell in love with an introverted engineer, a man of math and science and absolutes. When our marriage counselor exclaimed that we were the most opposite pair she had ever encountered, other than her and her own husband, I had no idea what she was talking about at the time. But we trusted that God knew what he was doing. 

Seventeen years later, I’m still trying to wrap my mind around what God was thinking, but I definitely have a better sense of what two opposites trying to make a life together looks like. While the journey has been topsy turvy and filled with tears, anger, joy, and lots of opportunities for humility, I’ve learned a few lessons along the way in finding joy in a marriage to your opposite.  

Find at least one thing you both like to do together.  I think this is so important for couples who are very different from each other. This shared “love” can help ease the friction found in other areas of life where you can’t understand your spouse’s thinking or why they do things a certain way, etc. For my husband Tim and me, the shared interest is hiking and being outside in nature. We struggle to find shows we like, we have very different tastes in food, we don’t like the same books at all, but we can find common ground in being outside on the trail. If you are at a loss with how to find a common activity, think back to when you were dating. What did you enjoy doing together? Once you find that activity, make time for it regularly. Tim and I try to carve out time while the kids are at school on Fridays or during the weekend to make sure we get a little time outside. Sometimes it is just sitting on the porch together–no talking, just sitting–and that’s enough of a shared love of the outdoors to help us find our love for each other again. 

Stop trying to change your spouse and accept him/her as different from you.  I know this seems like a no-brainer, but really, you need to stop trying to change your spouse. YES, you can pray and encourage them to become more of the man or woman that God has designed them to be, but consider your reasons for wanting change. Dig deep and look at your heart about an issue. Would you be willing to make the same changes if you were in his/her shoes? Before you start taking your issues to your spouse, talk to God about them and let the Holy Spirit help you see if it’s just a matter of opinion or really is truly something that needs to change for the good of your family.  

Several years ago, Tim and I led a ministry for the newly married through our church in Philly. People responded to our leadership and the ministry thrived. What I didn’t know at the time was that Tim was miserable. He hated being in a place of leadership in this fashion. As someone who is introverted and uncomfortable with public speaking, this just about sent him over the edge every Sunday. I was certain that he would eventually change and learn to like it the way I did. He didn’t, and the more I pressured him, the more miserable he became. What I came to learn through that time is that I need to respect the different way God designed my husband and accept that his likes, dislikes, proficiencies and weaknesses will be different than my own, and that’s precisely why God put us together in the first place.  

Show gratitude for your differences.  Being thankful for differences helps us change the way we think about our relationship with our spouse. We honor God tremendously when we take time to verbalize or write down or pray through the things that make us different from our spouses. This also helps us see the benefit to being opposites. When I take time to think about how Tim’s black and white, simple approach to parenting helps my boys understand right and wrong and know exactly where they stand with him, I’m grateful. When I think about how he models rest and the ability to create margin in life and stand up for his boundaries, I’m grateful. These are all things that do not come naturally to me, but because I see them in him, I find that I am able to practice them more readily, and I have his support because he already knows how to do these things so well.   

Your marriage has three partners, not two.  If you are both believers, God really is the glue that holds your marriage together, and he WANTS to help you make it work. I knew this in my head when we got married, but it wasn’t until two years in that I realized it was NOT in my heart. I was so frustrated with unmet expectations and this trial of living with my complete and utterly confusing opposite, that I came to God in desperation and started crying out for help. What he revealed to me was that I was looking at Tim to be my god, and he could never be that for me. I was seeking unconditional love, someone who knew my thoughts without me having to voice them, someone who could provide all I needed all the time, etc, etc. I had that available in my marriage, but I was looking to the wrong guy. Once I realized this error (sin), there was a lot of repentance and re-hashing of my expectations. All those high, lofty, dreamy expectations I had for Tim got moved over to the One I knew could handle them. We often don’t realize we are doing this to ourselves and our spouse, so if you’re struggling in your relationship, spend some time with your other marriage partner (God) and see what He has to share with you. He is faithful and gracious to reveal what is going on in our hearts.

Marriage isn’t easy, especially if you are married to your opposite, but remember that you aren’t doing this all on your own, and the beautiful things that God can bring out of your audacious pairing can bring him more glory and honor than you can imagine.  

If you are married to your opposite, what is something you would tell your younger self or share with a newly married couple?

Amelia Furman has been a member of Faith for eight years. She is a professional fine artist and teacher who specializes in mixed media art.

At Faith, Amelia serves on the writing team and encourages others in blessing people with their creativity. She loves telling meaningful, thought-provoking stories that shape imaginations and minds for God’s glory. 

Amelia is from Pennsylvania and enjoys painting, reading, running, hiking, and laughing.