Couple’s Strengths.

In the PREPARE/ENRICH training, Dr. Olson discusses “couple’s strengths.” There are a number of theories/ideas about what constitutes a couple’s strength(s). Some texts recommend that couples should be similar so that they have their likenesses to lean on in stressful times. Others contend that couple differences diminish the weaknesses of the other spouse. How do you approach this idea? Is there evidence in Scripture that supports your position?

Opposites do attract, but without commitment, the attraction can become a fatal and destructive one.[1] Hawkins posits that “Husbands and wives who recognize they are on the same team, striving for the success of their marriage, make an unbeatable combination.”[2] Intentionality within a team where opposites and differences in personality exist does not hinder the team from accomplishing its intended goal. Each member of the team intentionally develops the understanding that “togetherness” requires thoughtful, intentional efforts of understanding the other person’s differences thus resulting in understanding their needs.[3] Hawkins discusses the creation of Adam and Eve and the mere fact that God created each of them with different or “unique” strengths and attributes. [4] Each person brought the team their unique strengths and attributes without which humanity would have been impoverished and with which humanity was significantly enriched to serve as a fuller revelation of God’s image.  It appears that Hawkins is suggesting that God created the differences; therefore, are these differences also considered opposites? Hawkins suggests that the antagonism that developed between the differences/opposites in personalities occurred after the fall of man.[5] Therefore, the enemy has made differences a challenge rather than an enhancement between couples. These personality differences complement pairs rather than separate them or create friction.

Personality types indicate the opposites attract conundrum more than anything else.  Moreover, an introvert and an extrovert are attracted to each other – they complement each other and are helpmates in social gatherings and bring balance to the relationship.[6] Deuteronomy 24:5 demonstrates God’s desire for men to stay at home with their new wives to “cheer” them up! Could this be an example of an extroverted husband going off to war to leave his young introverted wife at home alone and with people whom she did not know? Although opposites do attract, the attraction does not have to result in a disastrous relationship.  Ephesians 5:25 directs husbands to love their wives in the same manner that Christ loves the church.  Hawkins proposes that companionship, not an automatic thing that occurs in marriages where opposites are intermingled-it takes commitment.[7]

The book Song of Solomon provides us with graphics pictures of how each person in the relationship describes the concept of love and their love for each other.  However, the bond was strong and heartfelt; the dominant character in this book is “the beloved.” The Shulamite expressed with poetic beauty the intensity of her love and commitment for her “beloved” even though they appear to be social opposites.[8]  1 Samuel 25:2-42 speaks of biblical opposites. Nabal, Abigail, and David. Nabal was brutish, displayed no social graces and demonstrated an attitude of ungratefulness. Abigail signified a woman of compassion, generosity and quick witnesses. In this instance, David was determined to require vengeance after being rejected by Nabal even though he protected Nabal’s property.  Three separate personalities met during the perfect storm of Nabal’s unthankfulness.  Abigail’s quick witness prevented David from committing an atrocity that God would have handled.  David, on the other hand, was attracted to her because she was wise and committed to her relationship with her husband.

Notes

  • [1] Dr. Olson states that although opposites do attract “They will need to remember to work with their differences rather than attempting to change or criticize the other person. It is helpful to look at the positives, even in very diverse approaches to the same issue.“ PREPARE/ENRICH, Facilitator’s Manual: Social, 71, PDF, Roseville: PREPARE/ENRICH, October 25, 2015;  I Corinthians 13:4-7 (KJV) declares “4 Love is patient, love is kind. . . . . It does not dishonor; it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” This scripture suggests that love will encounter differences, but it also offers suggestions that enable couples to maintain relationships with individuals who are one’s opposite.
  • [2] Ronald E. Hawkins, Strengthening Marital Intimacy (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1991, Vital Source), 13.

[3] Ibid., 123.

[4] Ibid., 15

[5] Ibid., 15; Gen. 2:18.

[6] Ibid., 80; 124-126.

[7] Ibid., 132 “Attraction must culminate in exclusive commitment to the other individual if intimacy is to be achieved.”

[8] Song of Sol. 8:13-14. He is outside socializing with his friends while he is at home waiting for him.  However, she does not resent his absence. She declares her need for him and demands a commitment to their time together.

Bibliography

Hawkins, Ronald E. Strengthening Marital Intimacy. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1991.

PREPARE/ENRICH. Facilitator’s Manual: Social, 71. PDF. Roseville: PREPARE/ENRICH, October 25, 2015.

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