Q & A

Why can't he be there on time?

Q. My husband and I have a great marriage. Really, in five years of marriage, only one problem has been a perpetual struggle. While punctuality seems very important to me, my husband has no "internal clock". He wants to be on time, but he never is. I've tried just letting him be late—but it drives me crazy. It seems so disrespectful to others. I've tried helping him, but he reacts badly because I remind him of his overbearing mother. Besides, I hate nagging. We'd both like to see this problem resolved, but neither of us can find a solution.

A. You and your husband do have a great marriage. After five years, you have only one problem that's been a perpetual struggle—and it's a common personality difference that many couples encounter. Don't be discouraged; personality differences can become God-given opportunities for both of you to learn and grow.

You've already made two good discoveries. You've learned that what you've done so far hasn't worked, which puts you in a good position to try something new (since a good definition of crazy is "to find out what doesn't work and keep on doing it"). You've also learned what some people take years to learn: that nagging doesn't help. Here's our favorite definition of that unproductive pastime: "Nagging is like being nibbled to death by a duck."

So, instead of viewing your personality difference simply as a problem to solve, try to see it as an opportunity for growth, a chance to understand each other better, to increase your marital satisfaction, and to model to those around you the difference Christ can make in a relationship. After all, more important than the issue of being early or late is the challenge to handle your difference in a way that honors each other's uniqueness in the context of serving each other.

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Conflict; Differences; Marriage
Today's Christian Woman, Winter, 2000
Posted September 30, 2008

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