I’m a morning glory. Apart from the bed-head and stiff joints, mornings are the best part of my day. In the morning, I’m rested, my mind is clear, things are quiet, and I can get my most productive work and planning done.
My wife, on the other hand, is a night owl. The nighttime is the best part of her day. At night, things are settling down for her. The demands of the day are over and she can begin to focus on the things that are important to her.
It’s like we’re on two different teams. When I’m ready to greet the day, she’s ready to pull the covers over her head. And when I’m ready to end the day she’s just getting started. She doesn’t like being woke up in the morning, and I don’t like staying up late at night. We live life with this big gap between us.
Truth is, all marriages have gaps in them. One spouse may want to save for a rainy day, while the other wants to spend to make the day brighter. One spouse might want to hang out with people, while the other wants to hide out from people. One spouse may see the glass as half full while the other is not even sure there is a class. Gaps!
At first, we try to overlook the gaps in our marriage. We want to believe they’re just a fluke. A glitch in the program. But when these gaps become glaring and unavoidable, then we tend to default to one of three approaches:
- Rescue our spouse by showing them the error of their ways.
- Convince ourselves that we have chosen poorly, look for a different model.
- Resign ourselves to a life of unhappiness as we gaze at each other from across the gap.
These options make marital gaps perilous. So, if we are going to navigate the perilous gaps in marriage, we need to have some different options. On the London underground, you often hear the warning, “Mind the gap.” Let me suggest four ways you can “mind the gaps” in your marriage:
G – Give up. I’m not talking about giving up your marriage. I’m talking about giving up your need/desire to change your spouse or control what they do. If you haven’t figured it out already, telling your spouse how they should be, what they should do, and why they should do it is not a way to win their heart. It’s more of a way to catch their heat. You’re not their parent, and you’re not God. You don’t like it when they try to change you, so give up trying to change them.
A – Accept. Accept that your spouse is different from you by design. They are a unique individual in their own right..just like you. The differences that are aggravating each of you are the differences that originally attracted you to one another. So accept them for who and how they are. Nothing is more attractive and life changing than that. (Note – I am not talking about accepting abusive or immoral behavior. That should never be tolerated, and must be dealt with before a relationship can proceed.)
P – Praise. Learn to praise your spouse for the strengths that are a part of their nature…even if they are on the other side of your gap. Because it’s their strengths that balance out yours. My wife is a very detailed person who dots all the I’s, crosses all the T’s, and likes to have a plan before doing something. I, on the other hand, am a big picture person who hates to be bothered with details, paperwork, and plans. Yes, we drive each other crazy with our natural bents, but we need each other’s strengths. So, instead of complaining about the differences, we should be celebrating them.
S – Step. As I said, there will always be some gaps in your marriage. But if you want to close the gaps some, then you have to take a step of faith in their direction…
- If you’re a morning glory, take occasion to stay up a little later with your spouse.
- If you’re a night owl, try getting up a little earlier to be with your spouse.
- If you’re an introvert, take your extraverted spouse out with people.
- If you’re an extrovert, spend a quiet evening at home…just you and your spouse.
- If you’re a saver, buy your spouse something…just because.
- If you’re a spender, make an effort to adhere to the budget.
- If you’re an optimist, acknowledge all the things that could go wrong with a decision.
- If you’re a pessimist, acknowledge all the things that could go right with a decision.
A good marriage is not about getting your spouse to be more like you. It’s about successfully minding the gaps between the two of you so they become positive rather than perilous. This week, take one step to celebrate a gap in your marriage. Then, take one step to bridge a gap in your marriage. Here’s to minding the gap!