On the Side: September 2019
His. Mine. Ours.
by Carol Shrader
When Wade and I were going through our pre-marital counseling, our beloved minister had us take a personality test. It was more than just our thoughts on ourselves, though. I had to fill one out on Wade, and he me. We had to have several friends fill out the test and mail them in, and then all the results were sent to our minister who carefully went through a weekend retreat with us and two other couples to discuss how our unique personalities would affect our relationship, our interactions with each other, our view of the world. It was amazing. And a bit jarring.
But I was young and we were about to be married, so I assumed those different ways we had of viewing the world would be erased as soon as we said, “I do.”
Because that is how that works, right?
Fast forward 20-something years. Our minister happened to be passing through our town and made time to have dinner with us. Every bit as wonderful as he was when we were young college kids, Ken asked gentle questions about life, our family and work. It was in a particularly taxing season at Wade’s job, and we shared with Ken about that. When we finished, he leaned toward me and outlined how Wade’s personality type would view this taxing season versus how mine would. I was staring at him open-mouthed because: A) He remembered exactly which personality types we were from 20-something years before; and B) Because I had totally forgotten and had just spent the last few weeks frustrated that my beloved wasn’t responding the way I (heavy emphasis on the I) would.
Ken’s gentle reminder was exactly what I needed to be able to hear my husband. And it was a great reminder that we are all wired differently with different skill sets, different personality types and different gifts. And contrary to what young me thought on my wedding day, those do not go away when we say “I do.” Thank goodness.
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us” (Romans 12:6a, NIV 1984).
When we had triplets during Wade’s second year of medical school, I was calm. I could handle three babies at one time. I could even handle three toddlers. In fact, by the time they were preschoolers, I relished that I had three and longed for more even while my only-child-husband said we were, “a full little family.”
But, remember we all have different gifts. When the triplets turned 16 and somebody had to teach them how to drive, I was less than calm (some might say anxiety-ridden, hysterical even…), but my husband was chill. He took them driving in empty parking lots. He took them driving down back roads. He took them driving on the freeway in Phoenix. And that man who wasn’t sure what to do with three crying babies, knew exactly what to do with driving teenagers. He never raised his voice!
“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you” (Romans 12:3, NIV 1984).
Listen, many tools are available for distinguishing your strengths, your personality quirks, your coping mechanisms. You can take personality quizzes, love language quizzes, spiritual gift quizzes with a couple of strokes on your web browser. While I may have undervalued those when I was certain that the minute Wade and I said “I do” our personality would simply meld together and we would be ONE, trust me when I tell you that getting insight into your man’s mind is always a good thing.
Take a quiz. Give your husband one. Learn the little—and not so little—ways you view the world differently. They won’t be exactly right about every little thing of course, but they are a great starting point for achieving a level of understanding with each other that sometimes gets stuck in the work of marriage coupled with medical training and parenting, and well, life.
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing… Love is patient, love is kind… Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:1,2,4a,8a, NIV 1984).
My prayer for you this month is that you will take the time to get a new perspective on what makes your guy tick. May this insight fuel new understanding and better communication while being a balm to your marriage!
Carol Mason Shrader occasionally forgets that everyone doesn’t think JUST like her. But her wonderful Wade—a pediatric orthopedic surgeon in Delaware—gives her grace and for that she is ever thankful. She does know that one of the ways he hears her love is when she stops and gives him her undivided attention and though being still is not her strong suit, she works to do just that.