When a couple is trying to divorce, often they will say, “But, you don’t understand, my spouse is so different from me.” Well, we would hope so! Your different spouse was why you were attracted to them in the first place—because they are not you. You should never want your spouse to be just like you—that is an attitude of pride and selfishness. But so many couples don’t look at their differences as a positive thing, or even a thing to be worked through; instead, they stamp it as “irreconcilable differences” on their divorce papers.
Because we are Christians, we need to use the Bible as our reference guide to what is right. “Irreconcilable differences” is not a biblical justification for divorce. In fact, God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16)! In the New Testament, God honors marriage so highly that He uses it as the picture of Christ and His bride, the church, joined together in covenant. Imagine if Christ said that He had “irreconcilable differences” with the church. The church has sins, and Christ does not. That is a pretty big difference! However, thankfully, Christ does not say that we are far too different to be joined with Him, and He exercises mercy and grace toward us. WOW! Christ stayed in the covenant that He made, even though at times his bride would hurt Him by sinning. He knowingly accepts us and all of our differences. So why then do Christians say we cannot accept our spouse for their differences? It is pride and selfishness. It is a “my way or the highway” attitude.
Do not make God sad by sabotaging the very first institution that He established. God wants what is best for you. He wouldn’t want you to stick it out, if He knew it wasn’t the best thing for you to do. God knows that accepting another person’s differences and loving them for those differences is one of the most rewarding spiritual journeys you can experience. That journey will grow you in mercy, in love, in grace, in humility, and in faithfulness. What a rewarding process God set up!
Stop looking at your differences as irreconcilable, and reconciliation will become more achievable. It starts with a heart and attitude change. We at the National Association of Marriage Enhancement (NAME) believe you can make that change—first with tolerating the differences, second with exercising mercy, and third with an eventual love for the other person’s differences. If you want to become more like Christ (the hopeful goal of every Christian), learn not to look at it as irreconcilable… You have the power of Christ in you, and He is the greatest reconciler of all!
If you want to read more about accepting each other’s differences, check out the book by Dr. Leo Godzich, Men Are From Dirt, Women Are From Men, at www.mymarriagestore.com.