Differentness from way back when
Our differences are because we are created for distinct purposes. That’s why we are different! Our roles and our differentness do not make one of less value than the other. Nor do they make one higher than the other, or a lord over a servant. One’s gifting and bents have nothing to do with being better than the other. In the eyes of God, we are on equal turf in the Kingdom. We need to remember that, every day.
We should not compete with each other. Instead, we should complement each other. To do that, we need to understand who we are, and we need to work together when we differ in feelings and goals. Competing puts us at odds with each other. Complementing brings us together, blending our differences into completeness. That’s when marriage works as it should.
The dictionary explains it like this: Complement –(noun) that which completes or brings to perfection; (verb) to add (something) in a way that enhances or improves the whole; to make perfect.
Complement versus compliment = differences!
A complement is not giving a compliment. A complement
is related to completion, while a compliment
relates to flattering words or acts. Both compliment
have their roots
in the Latin word complēre
, meaning “to complete.”
A man is not complete without a woman and a woman is not complete without a man. It doesn’t mean that a single person can’t be complete as a whole person in Christ. They are completely complete. Nor does it mean that a married person is not whole on his/her own.
The truth remains that as husband and wife, we balance each other and “fill in the chinks” in pieces missing in our lives and even our temperaments. Working as a team happens when our goal is to complete the other, or complement the other, instead of pulling against each other. A team of horses cannot move forward together if each one is pulling in a different direction. That’s what happens when a marriage is defunct. Two horses of strong temperament can work side by side when both are used to being the lead horse. They can still function as a team when they work together toward the same goal. The key is being harnessed together in the same yoke, pulling the same load and working toward the same goal with a master who understands their temperaments and sheathes their strengths for the purpose of completing the task.
Differences to celebrate
So how about, instead of fighting the differences, we celebrate them?! How about we recognize that areas in which we are weak can be strengthened by the complement of another individual?
Men are more naturally wired to be leaders, protectors, and providers. Women are more naturally wired to be protected and nurtured. Together, they complement each other. In raising children, we find both needs of children met. Sadly, our fallen world has many children in single homes with parents at a loss to know how to fill their needs. Recognizing the need is the start, and finding others to help and give insight is another step in meeting those needs. In another way, God provides healing and restoration to empty hearts, even when things are not as He intended them to be.
Children need firmness, strength, surety, protection, and leadership. They also need nurturing, love, protection, and care. A mom can be firm and provide protection, but it’s not the same as what a child feels from a man. Likewise, a father can be loving and caring, but what the child feels is different than what he feels from his mother. It’s just the way it is. Don’t fight it, but use each other’s strengths to give strength where you are weaker.
This does not mean that a woman can’t be a provider and a protector, or that a man cannot nurture, tend, and love. It simply means we do it differently and find fulfillment in nurturing in different ways.
Mixed signals regarding our differences
What often happens is that a woman is frustrated when her gifts and temperament are not understood, or when her gifting is a threat to their spouse. She feels unprotected and uncared for.
When a woman is disrespected and uncared for, she has no desire to honor and respect her spouse. Likewise, when a husband’s leadership is thwarted and he feels disrespected, he has no desire to provide for his wife or meet her needs. Both expect the other to be the right person before they are willing to become the right person. It’s a mixed-up world, and it’s not how God intended marriages to be, nor is it what makes a marriage good.
Sex and the differences
Even the sexual act shows us how we are made to complete each other. Two body parts fit together completely, as planned and designed by God. Who, but God could have thought up and designed that one?! Which body part is the most important, the most defining in procreation? Neither can happen without the other. Both parts must function in the way planned by God for procreation to occur (the egg and the sperm joining together for conception).
In the same way, as both man and woman have equal value and equal part in procreation, both are equally important as individual people. Losing sight of that leads to disenchantment and unfulfillment. Remembering that paves the way for mutual respect and understanding.
Finally: accept the differences
The beauty of marriage is in experiencing it as a complete unit, together. When marriage is done right and done well, there is certainty and security. There is love, there is honor, and there is respect.
Don’t fight the differences. Celebrate them – then use them to build a marriage of strength and security, protection and power.
Don’t compete. Complete. You’ll be glad you did.