When Opposites Collide: Getting Past the Conflicts

couple arguing 

We’ve all heard the adage “opposites attract.” When I was growing up, my best friend and I were opposite in a number of ways. She enjoyed playing dolls; I preferred playing outdoors. She was shy; I was outgoing.

However, we must have shared more common interests than not. We enjoyed being together and were never without something to talk about. Over the years, we’ve grown apart in distance, but not in spirit. When we do visit, it’s as if we were never apart.

My husband and I come from very different backgrounds. He grew up in the north and only ate meat and potatoes. A born and bred southerner, I grew up around a table laden with various meats, vegetables and sundry other things. My siblings and I had no choice as to what we ate. And we knew better than to ever say we didn’t like something.

Jay was brought up a Catholic and me a Protestant. Back then, never the twain should meet, much less marry! When I decided to go to Georgia, my mother called it a “matrimonial bureau” and gave me this advice. Don’t fall in love with a Yankee or a Catholic. Jay was both.

Although her warning seems unkind, I believe it came not from meanness, but from fear and a lack of understanding. In fact, My mother grew to love Jay as a son and he loved her just as much. He told me once she was the most unselfish person he’d ever met.

My husband and I were also opposites in our reaction to conflict. When we argued, he retaliated by not speaking to me for days. In return, I punished him with harsh words. As a result, we never solved anything. Eventually the conflict would subside. But it was still there, hovering over us, waiting for another opportunity to erupt.

                           Bible       A few years after we married, we discovered what it meant to have a personal relationship with Christ. After that, we attended seminars, read books and studied the Bible with an insatiable desire to grow in our faith. In time, our marriage began to thrive, rather than stagnate.                    

Of course, we still have conflicts. Ruth Graham once said, “If two people agree all the time, one is unnecessary.” The truth is, opposites have a lot to offer one another. That is, if we can get past the conflicts caused by our differences.

Next week, I’ll share what we’ve learned about dealing with and resolving conflict. One is a simple tip, a choice we make. The other is the application of a profound truth God has made so simple, we sometimes miss it.

I’ll bet you have insights on dealing with conflict. Share them with me. I need all the help I can get.


4 Responses to “When Opposites Collide: Getting Past the Conflicts”
  1. Oh my gosh, Liz – I had no idea your marriage was so scandalous! I have very similar roots, and got the exact same advice in 1980! Isn’t it funny how much grace the Lord showers us with? And how gently He gets our attention? Nothing short of amazing.
    I can’t wait until next week!

  2. Millie says:

    Mom – I love when you share stuff about you and dad in your ‘BC” (Before Christ) days! It’s just such a wonderful picture of God’s grace and redemption! You and Dad certainly allowed the Holy Spirit to take over your marriage because us kids rarely ever saw the stuff you talk about! Either that, or I’ve blocked it out…or I just have a terrible memory! 🙂 Either way – what was modeled for us was such God-dependent parenting that I am forever grateful! THANK YOU!

    • Thanks, sweet daughter. And so are we forever grateful! Of course, there have been many conflicts since, but the difference was that we knew better than to air them in front of you girls. I know you’ve seen a lot of the residue left in our sometimes negative responses to one another. But God’s grace is sufficient and as you always said in answer to the question, “How come your daughters turned out so well?” God’s grace, you would answer for us. And indeed it is, God’s grace was not only sufficient to save each one of us from sin but His grace is also sufficient to save us from ourselves on a daily basis. We don’t always honor that but thankfully, He continues to forgive and renew. He’s a great God, isn’t He?

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