When Karen and I started dating, I thought we were just going out and having fun. It was superficial at first. But God was doing something at a much deeper level than I understood.
I believe God wires us to choose a spouse according to His will. This happens under the surface and we don’t always recognize it. It’s part of His plan, but not understanding this causes a lot of the pain people experience in marriage.
On a conscious level, most of us think we’re looking for someone who is like us. But unconsciously, we are wired to find our compatible opposite.
This was clear in the very first marriage.
When God created Eve, He said “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him” (Genesis 2:18). That word we translate “helper” is the Hebrew word ezer. It means “to supply what is lacking.”
In other words, Adam didn’t need another version of himself. He needed someone to supply what he lacked. He needed someone to complete him. He needed a compatible opposite.
Compatibility is based on beliefs, values, and character-not sameness. Karen and I both love Jesus, are going the same direction in life, and both agree that the character of Christ is what we’re after. We have the same values and life goals. But we are not at all the same.
In fact, we’re polar opposites.
Remember what happened with Adam and Eve? He rejected her. After the fall, Adam accused God of not giving him the right woman. They didn’t understand.
Back to Karen and me. When my friend Allan Kelsey and I were writing Strengths Based Marriage, one of the first things Karen and I did was take the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment. It’s a brilliant way to understand your strengths and weaknesses.
After Allan looked at our results, he said, “I don’t know that I’ve ever tested two people who are more opposite than you and Karen.” That was no surprise to us!
My number-one strength is Achiever, which means I get things done.
My lowest-rated characteristic was Empathy-number 34 out of 34.
Guess what Karen’s number-one strength is? It’s Empathy. She is definitely in touch with her own emotions. She is an expert at feeling others’ pain. She is strongest where I am weakest.
This difference caused constant problems early in our marriage. I thought Karen was weird. I thought she was too sensitive. She felt too much. I rejected her and used to shame her about it.
Then God showed me that, if maybe she felt too much, then I didn’t feel enough. I needed someone like Karen to balance myself out. God had put us together for that reason. I didn’t need a female version of Jimmy. I needed someone different, someone to supply the emotional component my life is lacking.
Karen is my ezer. When we find someone who completes us, they may be different from us. But don’t shame or reject them for being different. Celebrate them!
Embrace your differences, because you need them. You are wired to find someone with the same character and values, but different strengths. Trust God’s plan for your marriage, because He knows exactly what-and who-you need.
Jimmy Evans // Marriage Today