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Why your spouse seems alien

Often in a marriage, it doesn’t seem like we’re just different people. It seems like we’re from different planets. And this might not be a bad way to consider our differences at times.

Growing up, me and my dad didn’t have many points of common interest together. But one thing that we did enjoy was our love of Star Trek, particularly Next Generation and Voyager. And going back and watching some of those old episodes, I fell in love with the series again. I love the depth and quality of the writing and the depth of the character development of each of the species.

Logic marries passion

In working with a client recently, their marriage seemed like the marriage of a Vulcan and a Klingon, where he was the cool, calm, rational one, and she was the fiery passionate one. And many of their conflicts seemed to boil down to this misunderstanding, where he wondered why everything had to be a fight, and she wondered why he seemed so vanilla and passionless. He thought he could never do enough to please her, while she thought she didn’t matter enough for him to even care to engage.

Both were seeing only from their point of view and missing each other. And they grew even more frustrated because this underlying assumption that “my way is right and your way is wrong” continued to fuel their interactions. It was one thing to forgive one or two offenses, but when there’s this ongoing pattern, then the assumption is something is wrong with you, something is wrong with us, and maybe we shouldn’t be together.

Clash of culture in marriage

But more often than not, while there’s often plenty of opportunity to still grow, this is more of a clash of cultures than a personality defect in each other.

There’s nothing wrong with him for not being as emotionally expressive. He loves in his own Vulcan like way. Likewise, there’s nothing wrong with the Klingon like intensity that she brings to the relationship. She doesn’t fight as a point of disrespect. She fights as a point of love. It’s her way to honor and care for the marriage.

Differences as opportunities

Understanding these different yet legitimate ways of being, however alien they might seem to us, can help us to extend grace and understanding to each other. We will still get under each other’s skin from time to time, but hopefully we can start to see these as opportunities to strengthen our bond…where differences make us stronger instead of driving us apart.

Dr. Corey Carlisle

Licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist - providing Christian counseling and soul care to individuals and couples, with a special emphasis on developing the masculine soul. Suwanee, GA 30024

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