Obvious, Elemental, and Necessary.  This is how Dale Ahlquist describes G. K. Chesterton’s opinion on the differences between men and women in his book Common Sense 101: Lessons from G. K. Chesterton. He goes on to quote Chesterton as saying that these amazing differences are quite necessary for true romantic love: “The differences between a man and a woman are at best so obstinate and exasperating that they practically cannot be got over unless there is an atmosphere of exaggerated tenderness and mutual interest. To put the matter in one metaphor, the sexes are two stubborn pieces of iron; if they are to be welded together, it must be while they are red-hot. Every woman has to find out that her husband is a selfish beast, because every man is a selfish beast by the standard of a woman. But let her find out the best while they are both still in the story of “Beauty and the Beast.” Every man has to find out that his wife is cross—that is to say, sensitive to the point of madness; for every woman is mad by the masculine standard. But let him find out that she is mad while her madness is more worth considering than anyone else’s sanity.” Well said, don’t you think?

The upcoming wedding of my only daughter in a few weeks has me contemplating these facts once again. Ken and I were very much in love when we married over 30 years ago. We had many things in common and were on the same page about every subject we had discussed during our dating and courtship. But oh how different we were from each other in EVERY other way! Ken always sees the big picture – I always look at the details. He sees the possibilities and I tend to see the hurdles. He likes to talk aloud about the conflicts in his mind – I prefer to keep my thoughts to myself until they are pried out. Do you see a trend here? Is it even necessary to say that at times these differences caused enormous conflict between us?

I thank God that he brought Ken and I together; that He used our love for each other and our commitment to the covenant of marriage to weld together these two stubborn pieces of iron while we were early in our journey of love. Every conflict – big or small – has been an opportunity for us to choose to allow God to mold us and shape us more like the image of His Son and to allow our love for each other to grow beyond the initial fire, into something deeper and stronger. I have been thinking about what advice I would give my children (assuming I were asked) as to what I would do differently if I were starting my married life over again. Here is my short list:

– I would be more generous with praise and stingy with criticism.
– I would give myself and my love more generously and unreservedly.
– I would prayer more fervently and frequently for my husband and our marriage.

It is my daily prayer that God would work through the obvious, elemental and necessary differences in my children and their spouses to make their marriages a beautiful example of Christ and His church. A godly marriage and family is spiritual work – but it is the best kind of work that truly counts for eternity.

(Post by Penny)