Babble of the Sexes

My last posting predictably veered off … into a more interesting—and dangerous—topic. The not uncommon lament about the inability to understand our opposites. Stan Baldwin today posted a comment on my blog which offered a ray of hope. He commented thusly: “… In our now nearly 64 years of marriage to each other, Marge and I have at last come to (mostly) recognize and accept our personality differences. Sure makes our lives together a lot better!”

Well, first of all, Stan and Marge, congratulations on keeping your marriage, through good times and bad, for over six decades! Amazing!

What Stan is saying is that marriage requires hard work. I believe him. No, I don’t think he’s bragging; in fact, he qualifies it with the rather unique “come to (mostly).” There’ve been times I would have felt presumptuous to say even that. Then a minor breakthrough and I felt good about what we’d done.

Stan gives himself considerable leeway with the bold declaration that he  “recognizes and accepts (her) personality differences.” Do any of you out there in Radioland (remember, I grew up in the ‘50s) recognize the personality differences of your mate? Do you know what Stan is saying?

Acceptanceis an entirely different ballgame. From that, we see how we complement one another, because we’re different. Acceptance doesn’t come all at once—more like baby steps. Remember, a baby doesn’t

Wedding day in Pretoria.

travel in a straight line and certainly not without stopping and looking around, maybe playing in the dirt, some steps backward when he gets turned around, a diaper change along the way …

My wife, who’s our church librarian, collects donated books for worthy causes, such as the monthly men’s breakfast at our church. In Gloria’s treasure trove of books, last Saturday morning I found two copies of Dobson’s What Wives Wish Men Knew About Women. They were eagerly claimed by two of the brethren, who shall remain anonymous. Excellent resource; I highly recommend it. A writer named John Gray won a spot on Oprah some years back because he’d written a book whose title explains it all: Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.

If you’ve read this far and think ol’ Sam is going to inveigle you with uncanny insights into the mind and emotional state of your beloved, I’d have to say that you’re in need of counseling. All I know for sure about the weaker sex is that they ain’t. A distant relative of mine said that any man who’ll stand up and proclaim he understands women bears watching—he’ll likely siphon gas out of your pickup and steal your pet goat, too.

Mostly, I’d like this posting to generate some encouraging comments. We’re tempted to become as cynical as my relative or want to give up when the hard times come. We men figure we can fix what’s broke if she’d just stand back and let us do our thing (Key word is “fix.”). God made us complex creatures. The basis for man/woman relationships, of course, goes back to the book of Genesis but that requires a deeper read than what we remember from Sunday School. Hopefully, we’ll have more to say about that in a future posting.

What about you? Any insights on how to recognize and maybe even accept the personality differences between you and your spouse? How have his/her differences provided balance and growth in your marriage over the years?


About samuelehall

A follower of Jesus, husband, father of 3 adult children, writer and learner.
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4 Responses to Babble of the Sexes

  1. My husband and I can only boast 12 years of marriage so far, but as we are still firmly within the nesting phase, I can say that parenthood has in many ways greatly accentuated our differences. That’s been really good for us because we really have pretty similar personalities and outlooks (no opposites attracting here), but as parents, we’ve had to really talk out our parenting strategies and think about what each of us does well, and maybe not so well. And that’s been the key for us, I think, and I assume this applies to pretty much every successful marriage in some way. We talk a lot! When we’re tired, frustrated, excited, disappointed, angry, happy, proud, or whatever, we talk about it. Since we have little ones, we have to make a very deliberate effort to do so because our time alone together is necessarily limited at this point in our marriage. And because we are two different people, joined in this one important task of raising children, I find we rely on each other often more for our differences than for our similarities. It’s like Rockey said (and I’m paraphrasing here): We’ve both got gaps; but together, no gaps.

    • samuelehall says:

      Similar personalities and outlooks? Wow, Sarah, I’ve not met any couple who admitted to that! You must have a marriage almost free from conflict. No, I’m not trying to set you up–don’t tell me!
      Yes, parenthood does bring out the differences but that’s good. Then you’ve got ’em out in the light of day where you can deal with them. Thanks for sharing your unique (?) experience. And congratulations on twelve solid years of marriage! That’s commendable in this day and age.

  2. Herb Hofmann says:

    Sam, My bride and I have only known each other for 35 years (married 33). While I can’t compete with Stan for longevity, I can say that Liz and I really are, “One flesh”. We are as opposite as you can imagine: East Coast-West Coast; Inner City-Suburban; Type A-Type L (lazy); Anxious-Laid Back. I could go on. What keeps us together? First and foremost, God’s Grace. We know it isn’t some great skill on our part. We did, however make a vow before God to make our marriage work- divorce wasn’t an option outside of some extreme situation. We committed to follow the Biblical mandates for love and marriage. In a nutshell, that means that I strove to fulfill the role of a husband and Liz strove to fulfill the role of a wife. It hasn’t always been easy, but it’s given us a marriage that we wouldn’t trade for any other we’ve witnessed. I told my children that the secret to a perfect marriage is this: The husband must put his wife first in all things 100% of the time and the wife has to put her husband first in all things 100% of the time. To the degree you can make that happen, you will have a joy filled marriage. Remember my comment at the beginning about God’s Grace? Obviously that is the only way this will every happen!

    • samuelehall says:

      Herb, to you and Liz, congratulations for your 33 years together as man and wife. You’ve got it right. These qualities–which emanate from God’s grace–are what carries you when your feelings tell you to quit or when circumstances threaten you in every other realm of life.

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