I am personally like to do things according to “the book” whether that book is my mother’s way of making bed or my communication class instructor’s way of presenting a speech. Throughout my school year, which is almost 90% of my life so far, I studied my books from cover to cover and do more study to get the highest grade possible. I used to study the whole night getting only two or three hours of sleep.
Well, my Berhan, on the other hand, has his own book to follow when it comes to doing life. When it comes to school, he doesn’t like to study. Period! The big issue his parents had with him when he was with them was that he didn’t like to spend time with his books as much as they wanted him to. However it is very hard to find in his grade report anything less than A. He is naturally brilliant. That was a mystery for his family, all his instructors, classmates and friends throughout his school years, from elementary back in Addis to university here in Maryland.
You see, when we were dating, I heard about him being an outstanding student and I asked him: “So, I heard that you are an A student, are you?”
He smiled and said, “Who told you that? Don’t just believe everything you hear about me. They are playing with you.” I was puzzled because I heard it from a trustful source. I also heard another good thing about him and asked him about it. His reply was the same: “Don’t believe these people.” I kind of liked his humble attitude. He didn’t show off even if all those things were true about him.
I mean for me at that point the most important thing in life was studying the whole night and getting straight A and I said to myself, “Bravo! You found the man who is exactly like you!” I thought he was staying up the whole night studying just like me.
In our first year as a married couple, my Berhan was doing for his masters. I used to make everything right for him to come home from work and study, for example for his final exam. Instead of studying for his exam, he comes home and says, “So, where are we going for dinner tonight?”
One day, I remember vividly looking at his eyes to see if he is mentally okay or something. I’m like, “Are you serious? Your final exam is tomorrow.”
Oblivious to what I said, “So! Let’s go out and have dinner. ”
You can just imagine. I was dreaming of having children and living a decent life with this man and I couldn’t see any hope in that; because seeing life through my glasses, there was no hope of future for me with a man who can’t study 17 hours a day like me.
Whenever I checked his grade, he kept his A’s but I didn’t take comfort from that saying, “This may not happen next quarter since he is not studying.”
As a married couple, living under the same roof, our differences became distinctly colorful, if you know what I mean. When I get up around 4:30am, my Berhan doesn’t know his name at 8:30am because he is in his deep sleep. I was scared for my future life.
Did that create conflict? You better believe it. I set out to change him and the result was: I made his life, my life and our marriage “successfully” miserable.
Then I began reading books about marriage and started to learn how God marvelously created us differently. Slowly but surely I began to see the beauty in our differences and started appreciating how our differences can be harmonized to create a conducive and loving environment for us as well as our children.
I always say to my Berhan, “I’m so thankful that you are not like me. Can you imagine if we both were the same like me? Our kids would have been the most miserable people on this planet earth. ”
And guess what? Three of our kids are more like my Berhan than like me. Let me give you one example.
When I get up on Saturday morning at 5am and start my day, the Banko’s start coming downstairs one by one around 9:30am. Imagine, by that time, my half day is already gone. And when I am ready to do a Bible study, they are like chilling and goofing around saying to each other, “Who can do more pushups than me?” Or, the famous one these days, is this: “Can you do pushups standing only on your toes and fingers?” I mean who can do that? Well, our older son can do that for probably two seconds and the other Banko’s take delight in trying and falling on their faces, yes, including my Berhan.
When I see them doing that, while I am seriously sitting down waiting for them to start the Bible study, if it was few years back, I would have probably pulled all my hair out, one by one. But now, I don’t do that anymore because I see that our differences are actually the sources of our family’s joy and happiness. I don’t try to change my husband anymore. I actually enjoy his laid-back attitude. I love his “So, what are we going to do today” while he is seeing me sitting down with my Bible ready to do the Bible study.
Living with me is like living in a boot camp but living with my Berhan is like living in a recreational park! With his sense of humor and “Don’t worry, be happy” attitude, our kids usually get lost when he is not around.
Yes, we all are created differently. Even the most loving married couples are also created differently. During dating, most of us said, “We are amazingly the same people” but once we were in the marriage, to our amazement, we found out that we too were in fact from different trees. But our differences are there to make our life better, not worse; not only better but also enjoyable. When we start to appreciate our differences and strive to find a balance, without stepping on each other’s toe, we see the potential our lives and marriages have to bring joy and fulfillment to our lives.
Are you married? Are you different from your spouse? If your first answer is yes, most probably your second answer is yes too. If so, don’t do the same mistake I did, trying to change your spouse. That is too risky business since you can’t do it without destroying your spouse and marriage. Instead, enjoy the differences you and your spouse have because those differences have great purposes; God is the designer of you and your spouse. He knows what He is doing. As long as the characters and bents of you and your spouse are not sinful, accept and receive them as a gift from God and you shall find all the treasures God hid in your marriage. ///