Turning Stressors Into Strengths

Posted: July 13, 2011 in Love and Marriage
Tags: , , , , , ,

One of the houses that we restored had a dining room that had been added on after the original construction.  Because of the way it was built, there were some problems that proved extremely difficult, if not impossible to overcome.  The roof leaked, and even after building an entirely new slanted roof over that part of the house, we still had issues with heavy rains.  There were also electrical issues in that room that may or may not have had to do with water getting in.

In spite of all this, it was probably our favorite room in the house.  It was built-in to part of a wrap-around porch that featured limestone columns which became part of the room’s decor.  There were large windows in between, and this gave it something of a sun room effect, not to mention views in three directions.   We spent many hours eating, playing, and entertaining in that room.  Despite its difficulties, we learned to love it.  We discovered a similar dynamic in our marriage.

Where we work, they do an activity called the “compass points.”  Its purpose is to categorize people by certain characteristics of their personality so that they can better understand how to work together.  My wife is a North and I am a West.  Norths are people who just go and just do.  They are action people who don’t wait to know the plan or read the directions.  Wests are detail oriented, “spell it out for me” types who are reluctant to act without having all the information.  One of the things we were told as part of the activity is that a North and a West make a particularly bad combination.

In earlier years of our marriage, we stumbled quite a bit over the challenges of these two personality types.  I would want to figure out a plan for something and my wife would get irritated because we weren’t getting anything done.  She would tear into a job and I would get irritated because she hadn’t thought through what all we were going to need, or how it was going to work.  We butted heads a lot over these types of things.  I blamed her for setbacks and mistakes when she rushed ahead without a plan.  She blamed me for lack of action and procrastinating when I was trying to figure everything out first.

The problem with this is that God chose us for each other.  That means we must be good for each other, not bad.  If a North and a West are a bad combination, either God made a mistake, or we were missing something.  What we were missing was balance and perspective.

What we failed to see for so long was how our differences could be strengths instead of difficulties.  Instead of the characteristics of a North and a West causing stress and strife, we could allow them to bring balance to each of us, and help us to be better together than we were individually.  My careful planning could help us avoid costly mistakes.  My wife’s fearless enthusiasm could get me up and moving instead of letting life pass me by.

I’m not sure exactly when we began to figure this out, but when we did, it not only began to set us free, but also allowed us to see how our differences could be celebrated, not just tolerated.  Much like that dining room that caused us so many headaches that we could never fix, so there were differences in us that were never going to change.  In the same way, we had so many fond memories of that room and we are now making so many new memories creating a beautiful life out of the way we complete each other.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s