Have you ever met a couple for the first time and found the husband and wife to be opposite in so many ways, that you wondered how they could ever stay happily married?
I have, and I’ve learned much from studying how they treat each other. I met one such couple yesterday.
Kathy, my wife, and I, visited a farmstead out in the middle of wheat fields west of Milton-Freewater, Oregon, to meet with an iron worker who builds utility trailers. We’re looking for a small trailer to pull behind my CRV.
The man we came to see was out working in the yard, and we struck up a conversation right away. He had a strong personality, firm opinions about things, knowledge and wisdom drawn from decades of experience, and bodily signs of wear and tear from the hard work he’d done over his life. He was a smoker. He was an “iron worker,” if there ever was one, and he was a cowboy and proud of it. He was a character, if I may use that word in a polite respectful way.
After getting to know this man and observing some of his very set ways of thinking and reasoning that might make many people uncomfortable, I wondered, “What was his wife like?” I was curious to know what kind of woman would be compatible with this rugged individualist.
Soon, we went into his house to write up a purchase order, and there we met his wife.
What a sweet dear woman! She looked exactly the opposite of what I had expected. She was anything but rough, tough and strongly opinionated. She was gentle and humble, with a country polish and refinement that spoke well of her.
She’d let her husband ramble on, and then insert some kindly compassionate remark that took the rough edges off his point of view. He would sound mean and tough, and she’d interject that he really had a compassionate heart with a very soft spot.
The more I watched them in action the more I found oneness in their marriage despite their vast personality differences. Underneath the “show,” the back and forth banter, the stories and tales, behind the rough and tough surface of the iron worker, and underneath the serene peace of his wife, was a profound respect and care for each other. It was like the storm needed the peace and the peace needed the storm. And they both knew it. Together, they found a happy middle ground that blessed them both. They had learned to not let personality differences become an issue. They simply let each other be who they were, and they remained in love with the child of God underneath it all.
I have found the same to be true in my marriage. The outward differences mean little in the long run. It’s what you find spiritually in common with each other that has meaning and significance and builds a relationship that endures. It’s called the stuff of love.
Love finds the good and holds on to it, no matter how deep it has to go to discover its treasure. In true love, the earthly characterizations, differences and attitudes don’t matter anymore. For to love, mutual respect, care and admiration is what matters.
This couple had found that mutual respect and it brought love into their marriage and home. I am a better person for noticing it in action.