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Sometimes Differences Can Diminish the Joy of Your Relationship

The term “opposites attract” was really true for Dennis and me … and I didn’t always like those differences.

By Barbara Rainey

According to legend, a Chinese emperor once said to his wife, “I notice that our mulberry trees are being damaged. I’d like you to find out what’s wrong.”

The empress discovered that a small, drab-colored moth was laying eggs on the leaves. The tiny eggs would hatch into little worms, which after a few days would spin cocoons and damage the leaves.

Wondering if she could destroy the little cocoons, she dropped one of them into a pot of boiling water. To her surprise, the cocoon began to slowly unwind into a silvery thread that proved to be a half-mile long!

Thus, through the process of solving a problem, the empress discovered something beautiful: silk.

Early in marriage, many of us feel like those damaged mulberry trees. The natural differences between husbands and wives—some caused by gender, some by background, some by personality—eat away at the joy of a marriage relationship.

The old adage that “opposites attract” was really true for Dennis and me when we married. We were very different in many ways. For instance, Dennis was impulsive. He’d get an idea and he’d be gone. On the other hand, I tend to be very disciplined; I like to think and evaluate before I act. Often, during our first year of marriage, I found myself left in Dennis’ dust.

I remember praying diligently for God to change all the things in Dennis I didn’t like. Then I realized what really needed to be changed was my attitude. I needed to ask God to not only make me content with Dennis as he was, but also show me the positive sides of our differences.

God did change my perspective, and in time I began to see how much I need my husband’s spontaneity to balance my more rigid control.

Rather than focusing negatively on differences, look for something beautiful—the silk—that comes from solving the problem.

Adapted from The New Building Your Mate’s Self-Esteem, Copyright © by Dennis and Barbara Rainey, Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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