Thursday, November 11, 2010

Celebrating the Differences in Your Marriage

Shortly after Bob and I were married, I got a call from my long-time friend Michael with the news that he, too, was about to marry.  He said that he had met a wonderful woman from Iran six weeks before and that  her visa was about to run out so they were headed to Las Vegas to get married. While I wished him well, my heart sank. I had this vision of sweet, gentle Michael being taken advantage of by a  would-be immigrant -- and hoped fervently that things would not be as they seemed.

Fast forward more than 30 years: Michael and Shahin are a happy, loving couple. He embraced her
two children from a previous marriage enthusiastically and is now a doting grandfather to their children. Not long ago, I asked Michael the secret of their marital success, besides the fact that they obviously love each other.  He replied: "We respect each other's differences.  She loves Persian parties. I like to stay home. But I encourage her to socialize as much as she wants and, of course, when it's important to her,  I do attend events. She enjoys my quiet nature and I like the fact that she's so outgoing. Our differences work really well for us as a couple. Our cultural differences are also a plus. As a family, we have a wealth of traditions -- so many occasions to celebrate!"

After our conversation, I thought about all the couples I've seen in marriage counseling -- with so many hung up on differences, some  superficial, some profound. There have been so many times when I've
watched couples convince themselves that their differences are truly irreconcilable and sometimes I've felt that they are giving up too soon and not fighting hard enough to stay married.  The concept of lovingly tolerating, even celebrating, differences between two partners in a marriage is, indeed, a secret of marital success.

Spend just a few minutes today to think about -- and celebrate -- the differences between you and your spouse.  Perhaps some of these differences have caused you sorrow or conflict in the past. Perhaps they have made you wonder if your marriage was really meant to be. While it's true that some differences can break a marriage, there are many others that you may find you can live with just fine.

By re-framing these differences as ways to enrich your life together, you may begin to see things from a different perspective.

You may find new ways to be happy together and, like Michael and Shahin, so many occasions to celebrate!

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