Different, Not Wrong


Photograph Laura Bennet - artist unknown

Photography Laura Bennet – artist unknown    (Do you see a waterfall or a flat surface?)

My husband and my first golf experience revealed a core issue in our marriage.

My husband plays golf. He knows what he’s doing, and he’s good at it. Unlike me, who has been on a golf course twice. And, I spent more time playing in the cart than in the game.

However, my dad taught me all he knows about golf. He’s good at it.

Despite my lack of actual course experience, I’ve hit dozens of balls on the driving range (I’m not even counting putting on miniature golf courses). I know how to hold the club and keep the arm straight and knees slightly bent. I’m not saying I’m consistent or good, but still…

So how did what should have been a pleasant activity turn into a forced, disappointing situation? Why did our fun evening digress into an argument? Brendan thought his experience would benefit me. I decided to stick with what I had been taught.

We both wanted to do things our way and couldn’t see the other’s perspective.

It seems we aren’t the ones who coined this dilemma. From what I understand, many people struggle with the same issue. World conflicts, politics and the ongoing argument of which way to load a dishwasher are proof. Knives down, people!

Whether it’s about golf or any other number of situations, we both have understanding and opinions based on legitimate past experience and information. Even if it’s not the same, they’re both valid.

Neither is wrong or right, they’re just different.

In a healthy relationships, we do the following:

  1. Listen to the other person’s experience and perspective
  2. Validate that the other person’s view is legitimate even if we don’t share it
  3. Be open to considering the other view as a way to broaden ours
  4. Be willing to compromise when it will better serve the relationship
  5. Choose the best way for each of us given the new information
  6. Voice our position calmly, honestly and without condescension, excuse or defense
  7. Allow the other person to choose their way without judging or criticizing them

We’re still figuring out the healthy way.

Those opposites that attracted us often lead to frustration as well. Initially, I appreciated that my husband’s strong opinions could stand in the face of mine, but later I discovered  I didn’t like being challenged. Both of us believed the other one should hold our same perspective without any question.

I don’t think either of us were often very open to the other’s perspective.

The good thing is it’s never too late to change. Being in relationship, whether a marriage or with a friend, family member or co-worker challenges us to become better people. It broadens our scope of how we see life. It makes us compassionate. That’s why God created us for community.

The Bible puts it this way:

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”  Proverbs 27:17

Our last golf experience during Father’s Day was better. We encouraged each other, let the other person do things as they wished, and I asked Brendan for some help. Well, maybe once.

I guess we have grown some.

You can read more of the story along with the miracles God did to connect us online and bring my Australian husband to America in The Miracle of Us: Confessions of an Online Dater.


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