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Dealing With Difference

Dear Goldie,

My husband and I are into our third year of marriage. We are facing many challenges. For example, we are so incompatible, almost opposites in our personalities. Our ways of doing things are very different. As a result, we are getting on each other's nerves more and more with frequent quarrels and misunderstandings.

Is there any help?


Dear Unhappy,

Conflicts are often caused by misunderstandings and failure to communicate. Let me give you an example. Tek always puts the spoon he stirs his coffee with on a dish, intending to reuse it the whole day. This irritated me. I asked him to put it in the sink because it will attract ants and dirt. He countered, “You don’t have enough spoons”.

I taught him to rinse the spoon and put it on the rack. Then he can reuse it later, all clean and dry. Problem solved. So communication is the key. If we use a bit of time and energy to bring up these issues, no matter how small, so that we understand each other, we can eliminate most irritations. 


Tek leaves his shoes all over the house, usually strategically in places where I will trip over them. After countless pleas he has not changed. I decided if he will not change, I will change. I prayed to God to remove my irritation. Not surprisingly, He did it supernaturally. Now I can happily walk around his shoes or sometimes pick them up and place them out of harm’s way - all without being angry. So to maintain your own peace, change yourself with God’s help. 

Nurture is what we learn: habits, methods, behavior, etc., which can be changed. But nature, the way we are born, is not easy to change. I am an introvert and was attracted to Tek because he is an extrovert. He is a visionary with unconventional ideas so he was attracted to me because I was careful and detailed. Inevitably, for most couples, the traits which attracted us before marriage become irritations after marriage. Statistics show that one common complaint couples have is, “We don’t think alike in many areas.” But instead of regarding this as a negative, we eventually discovered it is actually a positive.

We came to understand that we are different. God says that both of us are “wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14), and that, “We are His workmanship, made the way God wanted so that we can do His good works which He prepared for us” (Ephesians 2:10). Having understood God’s intention, we don’t simply tolerate but rather celebrate our differences.

For example, pioneering ventures, like taking on Asian Beacon, opening the first Christian bookstore in Melaka, and starting a blog, were all initiated by Tek, with me following up with the structured details.

Each of us contributed our strengths, talents, and giftings to work as a synergetic team. We also complement and balance each other in the areas that the other lacks.

Recently, a friend who is a consultant in personality profiling* did an assessment for us. Tek and I have just celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary, so we thought we already knew each other pretty well.

The results of the assessment, besides confirming what we already knew, also alerted us to certain areas for improvement. For instance, when we cannot agree, I would usually say in exasperation, “You just go ahead and do what you want. I don’t agree but I will not stop you.” But Tek is not satisfied; he will continue to talk until I agree. Why will he not act unilaterally? Because his profile shows that he is a “people person” and “depends on the approval of others". So knowing ourselves and our spouse gave us more understanding and insight into improving our relationship.

So communicate more to find solutions. Understand the different ways you were nurtured.

Start celebrating the differences of your DNA because of your unique God-given natures, and recognize that you can complement and balance each other with your different strengths and weaknesses. Always ask for God’s help when it seems impossible.


*Personality ID, an ENHANCED DISC-based personal assessment tool used to improve work productivity, teamwork and communication. See Crown.org

Dear Goldie – Dealing with Difference – Asian Beacon Volume 47 No.1 Feb- March 2015