Mismatched Candlesticks
Karen Ehman

"Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. On the lips of him who has understanding, wisdom is found..." Proverbs 10:12-13a (ESV)

They are an odd, but pretty pair; the two candlesticks we have perched on the antique dresser in our master bedroom. While both are crafted from solid brass with similar round and sturdy bases, the shafts of each candlestick couldn't be less alike.

One is straight and streamlined; not at all fancy, just functional; with tall lines, direct and strong. The second is designed with a touch of flair; two equidistant strands of brass whirl and swirl side-by-side in a "look at me" manner, as they ascend to the top of the shaft that holds the candle in place.

I found each candlestick at a different yard sale, both in the same month. While their styles aren't the same, somehow this eclectic pair is an interesting match. And more importantly, they are a constant visual reminder to my husband and me, providing a tangible picture of our marriage.

My husband is the first candlestick. No frills. Straight-forward. Only about function. I am the second one. Crazy. Winding. All over the map. Completely about fun. While we both are "forged from brass" in that we are followers of Christ with the same spiritual foundation, pair our opposite-end-of-the-spectrum personalities together and disaster could ensue. In fact, we often joke that if in our college-courting days, we would have been able to send our profiles to an online matchmaking website, instead of pairing us up with each other, the computer screen would have blinked a bright warning. DO NOT DATE!! TOTALLY NOT COMPATIBLE!

Beyond the normal male/female differences, we have a lot in our personalities that cause friction, conflict and sometimes (mostly from me) snapping and harsh words. In fact, it doesn't matter if it is in marriage, parenting or in a work or friendship situation, mismatched personalities can cause frustration, anger and at times, wounded feelings.

Someone who is not wired as we are, does not think like we do and who makes decisions and carries out actions we would never dream of, can just plain rub us the wrong way. It causes our feathers to ruffle and not-so-nice thoughts to invade our brains.

Usually, if dealing with a non-family member, we manage to keep our composure; tame our tongue; to not do or say anything in the midst of our frustration that we might later regret. With our children or spouses, however, sometimes we open the floodgates and spew out all sorts of cutting comments, nasty words, flying criticisms and awful accusations. My husband and I call it "throwing flesh balls." At that point, we are not "walking by the Spirit" but "gratifying the desires of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16).

My flesh just likes to be gratified sometimes and nothing gratifies it more than a good ole', all-out verbal assault on my "thinks-and-acts-so-different-from-me" husband. Instead, today's verse provides direction for how we should handle the inevitable conflicts that arise from trying to mesh two very differing personality types.

We shouldn't spew hate. We should seek to understand. We should ask God for wisdom. We should love. Not necessarily in an "ushy-gushy, touchy-feely" sort of way; but rather, in an, "I am going to choose to react gently and behave kindly because that is what God is asking me to do" sort of way. Cementing this line of thinking in our mind will help us to make the right choice. There are things we will do because we are doing them for God that we otherwise might never do for a spouse, co-worker or friend who makes us mad!

Will you join me today in purposing to stop stirring up strife when it comes to someone in your life who is oil while you are so water? Yes, even if it is your own spouse. The world is watching; sizing up how we behave. When we are one part of a divergence in personalities, what will they see? Stirred up strife or lovingly covered offenses?

Dear Lord, grant me the ability to speak kindly, respond gently and at times, to hold my tongue. I want my actions and reactions to please and reflect You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
What a Husband Needs from His Wife by Melanie Chitwood

What a Wife Needs from Her Husband by Melanie Chitwood

For more on mismatched marriage and a chance to win a couples ‘basket-in-a-box’ giveaway, visit Karen’s blog

A Life that Says Welcome by Karen Ehman

Application Steps:
Jot down the names of one or two people with whom you have difficulty getting along. Now, name at least one kind and thoughtful gesture you could do for them during this Valentine's season, even if anonymously. Do it this week.

In the past, how have you dealt with male/female differences with your spouse or, if you aren't married, with other personality clashes in your life? What were the results? What could you do differently in the future to promote a more harmonious relationship?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 15:1-3 "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly. The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good." (ESV)

John 13:34-35, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (NIV)

© 2010 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

this sounds just like my marriage in an ultimate way, not so much the spewing of hatred words, as we choose to hold it in most of the time, but just the difficulty of blending two people that are so different. 3 years of marriage and I still wonder how did I miss this...or overlook it. I am a visual person and will look for candlesticks, or something like that, to remind me of the truths listed here. The hope that we can be of one accord in the important things. Thanks.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, my husband and I are so opposite. I always used to wonder if I should have married him and most of the time wished I had stayed single except for my children, of course. But now that we are empty nesters, God is healing our relationship in a most wonderful. I feel our future years are just going to get better and better without all the stressfulness of raising a family. I still stress at small things but am learning to let things go and let love cover a multitude of sins. So we are finding that compatability that we have both desired but could not seem to achieve previously. I am now so glad that we both hung in there when the going was so tough.

Anonymous Rani John said...

Great thought..When our situations urge us to behave just like anybody else, we need to take an effort to be different and you will see the difference. Thank you once again...God Bless

Anonymous Margie said...

Good post, this reminds me of my marriage too. I'm the ceiling fan and he's the air-conditioner...you got it. Hot and Cold!! I blow my top, and he is calm, but cooling. Yes ladies! He has a way of calming me down which is good :0) Thats what make us work...when I am blowing air and moving all over the place, he bring me back in line...that bring balance to our marriage, even when we're so different. I love that about him. I think, if he didn't have a calm spirit about him...I would be out-of-control... windy blowing about, sometime forceful. I guest what I'm saying...it makes our relationship strong because we need each other...Isn't that what God wants in relationships, so we can strengthen each other to make strong? Thank you, God Blessing.

Blogger Unknown said...

Oh girl, this must have been written for me for sure! My husband has been very ill over the last few months and altho it is not a good thing to do so, we still find ourselves at each other's throats over the most ridiculous things. Then boy do I ever feel "guilty". We are opposites in many ways, but yet, we compliment each other most of the time too.
I love him so much and so want him to be better but sometimes all the anxiety of it all just gets the best of me. Thanks for the uplfiting devotional, so needed!

Blogger lindie said...

My husband and I are total opposites. I live to get all dressed up and he is totally contented in blues jeans and tee shirts, though he does dress up for me when he knows its inportant to me. I love to talk and never mmet a stranger he is quite and more of a listener.
He jokes maybe he would talk more if he could get a word in edgewise for me.,, I think a lot his is writer's quirkyness. Though their have been times when I wished he could be more out going,

his other side is he is gentle, kind and loving. I was born with a birth defect called spina bifida and was in a wheelchar when this active writer and private pilot meet me yet he still chose to love amd find accomandations that allow me to go flying with him and other activties. But most of all he has een their with me through many nights and dsy in the hospital, plus taking on more of a parenting roll than most dads have to. Will I ever wish again for him to dress up more or e more talktive am sure but I pray God will always remind me why I love him and what qulities he does have.

I wish that i'd read this post earlier in the day!

I had a rare fight [not even sure how it escalated to that] with my couldn't-be-more-opposite husband.

I didn't say anything hateful - and even held my tongue on a few things... but it did boil down to me being annoyed that he STILL doesn't communicate on major decisions (after almost 8 years of marriage) - but more upset because he still doesn't see the need to: he just tells me to get over it.

That's where the frustration comes in, and i am tempted to remind a certain someone of certain facts - which annoys that certain someone.

More importantly, i am a Christian that needs to step up my walk - especially in this setting, as he is not saved, yet.

I feel [know?] i've been longsuffering - and am tempted to give in to my flesh at a certain point...

...which is probably the same point that Jesus is wanting to push - expand - help me grow...


So i had just called him to apologize - because i know the Lord wanted me to - if only to humble me, and be a good witness.

Now i need to just trust Him to work it all to His glory - whether that involves a painful growth spurt, or not.

This post confirms it. Thank you. :)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

the love dare!! try it!!! you will be blessed beyond compare!!!

Just do it!!!

Blogger Lake Lady said...

Years ago, we were fairly newly married, I got furious with my husband. He never never never never got excited about things I wanted him to get excited about. He was just always calm and straight. I was so upset. God spoke to my heart and reminded me this was what I wanted. I had been in an abusive marriage (physical, mental, emotional). Everything was always in an uproar. I now had that "calm,dependable, un-ruffable" husband I had prayed for. Since then I have had days when I want "excitement". I remember very quickly how very blessed I am. And, yes, we are opposites - I am the excitable one and I can depend on my husband to be my anchor.

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