A Plus Z Equals One

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It has been said, “Behind any great man, there is a woman rolling her eyes.” There is humor and validity to this statement. However, a better saying goes, “Behind every great man is a great woman.” In the Bible we read a good amount about the apostle Peter, and we find him to be a confident, arrogant and zealous man. He is passionate about everything he does, recklessly pursuing what he believes to be right in that moment. A little known fact about this bombastic and influential apostle is that he was married. There is no mention of his wife in the Bible, and we only know that he was married because of the story of Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law. Perhaps Peter’s wife had died, but regardless we can imagine what she would have thought about Peter’s life and eventual ministry. One would hope that her love language was not quality time, as I’m sure Peter could give little of that. Nevertheless, I imagine Peter and his wife being complete opposites, one a determined game-changing disciple, the other a quite and unknown biblical character. In the book of Genesis, Moses writes that a man will leave his mother and father, join together with his wife and they will become one. The amazing part about this is, how do two people become one when their approach to life is entirely opposite. We can almost imagine how different Peter and his wife might have been, yet at the same time, they were one. How can two different personalities, extrovert and introvert, come together and be one?

About two years ago, I married my dear wife, Lindsey. I met her at summer camp in the flat, northern state of Michigan. She was great with the kids, a profound thinker, superb conversationalist and had a pleasant smile. I was immediately smitten by her green eyes and long, thick brown hair. We dated a few years and are now happily married. We are one. Yet, fundamentally we are different, different perspectives, different upbringings and different personalities. I am an extrovert, she is an introvert. To me the weekends mean a chance to see, talk and meet as many people as possible. To her the weekends mean a time to rest, self-reflect, and perhaps recharge with a select few or by herself in nature. Despite these differences, we are still one.

Without a doubt we are still on a journey. However, we have found that these differences are not ones that should or will tear us apart but ones that will strengthen our marriage. To be honest, I am not a romantic by nature. My good friend on his first date, bought flowers, did a scavenger hunt, cooked a few meals, wrote letters on sheets of papyrus, (where does one even find papyrus?) played her some music, read her a poem, it was endless and all this just on the first date. He was telling me this after I had a candle making date with my wife. I felt like my date was pretty lame after hearing his story. But Lindsey came up to me, sweet as she is, “Moses, Moses, yes Eddy had an overly romantic first date, but I love you and what you do, and even the little things mean the world to me coming from you.” So that is my journey, finding the little things that I can do to light up her world.

How does one balance extroversion and introversion, and how can that possibly build a marriage up? For starters, had we both been extremely extroverted, getting to know each other would have been more difficult, since we would have found more energy spending time with a multiplicity of people. Had we both been intrinsically introverted, I could see us encouraging each other to continuously be with less and less people. I am not saying this is bad, it is just not something I would enjoy. In short, she is a perfect balance to making our marriage work.

When I say balance, I imply that there is potential to be out of balance. The book of Proverbs, chapter eighteen, gives wisdom when it says, “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding but only in expressing his opinion,” again it says “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame” (Proverbs 18:2,13 ESV). Keeping Lindsey guessing as to what I feel in the moment does not help us grow, neither does it help if I give all my opinions without understanding her point of view. I know for me the hardest part is if I have something I want to do, such as go to a gathering or attend a certain event, it is hard to redirect my focus and understand what Lindsey is saying. An even harder and important step is, after listening to her request, finding how to change my mindset so that I enjoy the choice we make. What I mean is, if I wanted to go somewhere, but decided to stay home with her, being grumpy the whole time does not make me a good husband. This process is all about how to listen, understand and be content.

The idea is not about keeping score. Keeping a running list of all the times I chose Lindsey’s idea undermines the whole joy in bringing two opposites together. The times we choose something we did not initially desire, should be looked at as positive new experiences, challenges to step out of our comfort zones. Our marriage is not about compromising who God made us to be, it is not about shaming each other for being different, it is about fully celebrating our God given personalities. No, it is not always a walk in a rose garden, but marriage is a journey and being with Lindsey has made this journey fundamentally richer. We may have opposite personalities, but we are one. If only one person is giving, the cycle of love in a relationship is broken. Because I love Lindsey, I learn more everyday how to choose options in life that make her happy. Because she loves me, she does the same. If she is the only one choosing to do things that make me happy, the cycle is broken and the marriage becomes stagnant. Love gives and gives again, a vibrant marriage is dependent on both parties giving love.

Peter and his wife had their differences, yet they were one. My wife and I have our differences, yet we are one. I am imperfect and this means my marriage is not perfect as well. God shows me new revelations of what love means all the time. Lindsey is patient with me on a daily basis. Her character and love make life better. Her opposite personality makes the relationship come alive, it is to be celebrated. When I listen, understand and find contentment, I see more and more how two opposite personalities, extrovert and introvert, can come together and form a vibrant marriage experience.

Moses Maier