When You and Your Husband Have Nothing in Common

I'm pretty sure that no respectable dating site would have paired me with my husband.

We are, ostensibly, polar opposites. None of our interests would overlap on the most generous of Venn diagrams. We would never sign up for the same affinity group. That old song about the couple pronouncing "tomato" differently? Could have been written about us.

I was at the park with a mom friend yesterday, doing the standard mom-thing... trying to have a substantive conversation that should have only taken twenty minutes but, thanks to the blessing of needy children, was taking slightly longer. We had somehow landed on the topic of marriage when she asked, "does it ever cause problems that you and your husband are so different?"

I started to say no, when I remembered that, wait, yes it HAD caused problems. There were lots of seemingly despairing moments those first couple of years of marriage where I wondered what we would EVER do together. When I married him, I had assumed our love of Jesus was enough. Hadn't I dated enough guys that didn't love Jesus to prove this theory true? But five minutes after we said "I do", I found myself doubting that sentiment. I am embarrassed now by how many arguments I started simply because my husband wouldn't conform to who I thought he should be. And, who did I think he should be? A male version of myself. Obviously. A man who loved long-distance running, historical fiction, political satire and healthy eating.

I don't think it was until the birth of our first child that I actually stopped obsessing over our differences. I often highlighted them, hyper-focusing on the myriad of preferences we did not share. I had no clue how our relationship would ever survive. How, I wondered, could I be married to a husband who loves movies when I can barely stand to sit in a dark room for two hours without being allowed to provide running commentary? How would our marriage last if my dream day involved a long hike and a picnic and his involved a big screen, Papa John's pizza, and college football?

It seems silly now. But it was so real at the time. In fact, I've witnessed more than one marriage end because the couple realized they didn't have anything in common. But I've noticed that my differences with my husband actually create easy opportunities for us to serve one another. If I can carve out space for my husband and I to watch a college football game sans children, equipped with greasy food, he thinks I hung the moon. When he planned a long hike through the mountains for our anniversary, I so appreciated his sacrifice. It held more weight, knowing that he was doing something he didn't love out of his love for me.

I've also realized, it's not shared interests that have sustained our marriage through hard seasons. We have the same love for Jesus, the same political views, the same love for different cultures and travel, the same goals in parenting and worldview that we want to pass along to our children. When we were dealing with the loss of a baby due to an ectopic pregnancy, a shared interest in WW2 literature wouldn't have sustained us. When a close family member went through a difficult divorce, a combined affection for running wouldn't have kept our sanity intact.

I, at 23, couldn't imagine this. I couldn't imagine that we would laugh until we cried over political memes or that we would be texting each other encouraging passages of scripture during a difficult season. I couldn't fathom us seeking out the most unique restaurants or scheduling times to brainstorm new ways to parent a child in a particularly difficult season. I naively couldn't see past, "I like to run and he hates cardio." That seemed reason enough to throw in the towel.

So, if this is you, I want to encourage you that it will be okay. See your differences as an opportunity to serve your spouse. And then focus on what you actually have in common. A shared worldview will take you a lot further than a proclivity for Grateful Dead cover bands.
Shortly after we married, almost 8 years ago


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