Hey Guys! Kyle Here. Let me start off by saying thank you for taking the time to read this post! I can’t guarantee that you will walk away from reading this feeling inspired, enlightened, and uplifted, but you might, and that is worth my time, and it should be worth yours as well.
I’ve recently been reflecting on my life and all that has happened in the past 7 months. 7 months ago Taylor and I started dating. It has been a wonderful adventure and in many ways has turned out to be better than I ever could have imagined. There are only 59 more days until our wedding and we honestly could not be more excited!
Having said that, there are some things about our relationship that took us by surprise, and, if viewed with the wrong eyes, could be seen as problems or even weaknesses to the overall strength of the relationship. These differences range anywhere from trivial matters such as how much pepper we prefer on our food to more important matters such as how we think about faith and family. One of my main purposes in writing this post is to help you see clearly that differences, if viewed with the right eyes, can be discerned for what they truly are–opportunities to grow stronger.
Allow me to explain with this simple analogy. I’m currently a pre-dental student at Brigham Young University, and as such have taken quite a few chemistry classes. One of the earlier topics that we discussed a little less than a year ago was why alloys are stronger than pure metals. Pure metals are made of tightly packed atoms arranged in rows in a structure called a lattice.
The tight packing of atoms as shown above makes metals solid, however, the fact that they are all the same size allows for them to slide past each other with relatively little force. This is why pure gold is soft and why other metals such as sodium and potassium can be cut with nothing more than a butter knife.
Alloys are mixtures of two or more different metals that enhance qualities such as strength and resistance while retaining other qualities such as luster and shine. For example, the gold rings most married people wear is likely a combination of gold with other elements such as nickel and copper. If we look at the lattice structure of an alloy it is easy to see why they would be stronger than pure metals.
As you can see in the structure above, the atoms are still tightly packed together, but they are not all the same size and they are not perfectly aligned in rows like the pure metal previously mentioned. This formation strengthens the alloy. When a force is applied now, it is much more difficult for the atoms to slide freely past each other. This is why we use alloys such as steel to make tools and to build bridges and buildings.
So, what does this all have to do with dating, courtship, and marriage? Well, I’ve heard a lot of people express their opinion that they need to find the perfect match in order to be happy and successful. It is a generally concerted idea that if we fail to find our “soul mate” or we choose to marry someone who is too “different” than us, then we are doomed to a life of arguments and fights due to our “incompatibility.” We seem to have the idea that the person we marry should be a 100% “match” with us, whatever that means. They should like the same food we like, they should listen to the same music we listen to, they should think about things the same way, etc. The problem with this thought is that all opportunities for growth and variety are stunted. Plus, why would you choose to confine yourself to a life of boredom by looking for someone who is literally just an oppositely gendered version of yourself?
Now, I don’t want to get too extreme here. Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that couples shouldn’t share similar values, goals, and beliefs. I’m not suggesting that, if you are a monk, to go out and try to marry an ax murderer (however I’m also not saying that that would be impossible). What I’m trying to say is that too often we freak out at any little differences in opinion or lifestyle of our partners, which often leads to fights and in severe cases breakups and divorce. We get so comfortable in our own lattice structure that we refuse to let anything or anyone in that could risk messing up our perfectly aligned rows of lifestyle atoms–and that is where we go wrong.
You see, as beautiful and precious as pure gold is, it is simply not as strong or resilient as alloyed gold. Mixing different metals into it will always yield better results. The same is true with the strength of a relationship. If we are flexible enough to acknowledge and even welcome differences into our relationships, trying our best to incorporate them the way we feel works best for us, always trying to compromise and find the balance, then we will always come out stronger than before.
Taylor and I’s relationship is no exception. We used to get into pretty heated discussions about things and sometimes we still do. We think and respond very differently to certain situations. We aren’t completely different though. We share many common interests, goals, beliefs, and hobbies, always cherishing those moments that we get to spend together. When differences do arise though, we try to look at them for what they really are–opportunities to grow stronger. This requires good communication, listening, sacrifice and compromise, but it is well worth the effort. We always come out of disagreements understanding the other person more than we did, and loving them more because of it. One of the reasons why our blog is called Like PB&J is because like peanut butter and jelly, we are very different people that go well together:)
Dating is not easy, but it’s worth it. Being engaged is not easy, but it’s worth it. I’m sure this pattern continues into marriage; it’s not easy, but it’s worth it. This is why I don’t like the phrase “falling in love.” The phrase implies that love takes no work; even more, that it is an accident. Falling in love and expecting the relationship to work out “just because” is like tripping during the olympic 100 meter dash and expecting to win the gold.
We will all encounter differences and disagreements during our time here on earth. We are relational beings by nature, and should expect such differences and disagreements. Our hope, simply put, is that you can look at the differences that arise between spouses, friends, foes, and neighbors as opportunities to improve. Look at what your partner brings to the table as a complement to what you bring to the table, learn from each other, encourage each other, and together you can become far stronger and sweeter than you ever could alone.
Kyle & Taylor