Couple with Black and White Coffees

You’re Both So Different? That Could Be What Makes Your Marriage Work

Twenty-something anniversaries later, I sometimes look at my wife Merryn and wonder how this marriage of ours works. I’m a writer and speaker, Merryn is a statistician. I work with words, she works with numbers. I want beauty, she wants function. We come from different worlds! But I’m coming to think that when these differences are managed well, the result is two bigger, better people. What do you think?

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So Very Different

Words and numbers are only the start of Merryn’s and my differences. Merryn arrives to appointments early, I’m occasionally late. I try new things on the menu, she always orders the same. If I take a wrong turn Merryn says, ‘We’re going to get lost!’ If she takes a wrong turn I say, ‘Ooh, an adventure!’ I like having music on, she’d rather have silence. Merryn likes Rom-Coms with happy endings, I like moody European films with subtitles. After twenty minutes at Tate Modern I’m just getting started, while Merryn is already in the cafe texting me, ‘Will you be much longer?’

Merryn and me as envisioned by Bob Bond for Woman Alive magazine

I’m the tidy one, Merryn is messy—just one of many ways we flip the gender stereotypes. She found us our home loans, I’ve done the decorating. She pays the bills, I do the washing. I ask for directions, she doesn’t. She wears jeans, I wear dresses (just kidding).

We do have things in common—a shared sense of humour, and a love of travel, reading, country drives, English pubs, Thai food, Dim Sum, and a belief that the BBC documentary is one of Britain’s greatest inventions. More importantly we have a common approach to marriage: joint bank accounts, shared decision making, praying through our options, mutual compromise. We’ve committed to stay in the room and talk through our problems. We haven’t been perfect in all this of course, but we’ve tried.

Thick and Thin

With this common base the differences may have worked to our advantage. Merryn has helped me learn to relax while I’ve helped her grow in discipline. Without her I wouldn’t have risked moving countries, without me she’d miss the discoveries at the end of unknown roads. Having faced a decade of infertility together, we know the pressures a marriage can experience. Those shared commitments helped get us through, even without a ‘happy ending’. They’ve helped us stick together through thick and thin.

Our differences are real and there every day, but managed well they can help us become bigger people. I’ll remind Merryn of that when we next visit Tate Modern. For this is a marriage built on difference and compromise!

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  • November 25, 2020
    Christina Piorkowski

    What a great article. My husband and I are also very different but we make it work, it also hasn’t always been easy but our love of animals, nature and adventure helps. We’ve been married for almost 20 years and also have dealt with infertility, our cats are our children, we’re at a place where we may not understand but we’re happy with life. We also moved away from family and friends a few years ago just to take a breather and try something new. We are now preparing to move back to where we came from since it was always our plan to eventually go back, I find myself a little anxious and fearful, they two are so different. For 3 years it’s just been me and my husband and moving back we will have friends and family around again, I guess I don’t want to lose the closeness my husband I have gained over these past few years together. Thank you for your wisdom and insight, I always look forward to reading your articles, I even have you set on Facebook to be the first thing I see every time you post.

  • February 14, 2022
    Vivienne Voysey

    Your dad and I had many differences but also many similarities. We went through some horrendous ups and downs and times when we both wanted to run away in opposite directions! But we worked through those difficulties and hung in there to make it work for nearly 52 years! The main thing that kept us strong was our love of God and prayer. Prayer for each other and prayer together. God answered those prayers and although your dad has left us now, I know I will see him again and I know God is looking after me in so many ways. Life is difficult we live in a fallen world desperately in need of redemption. My constant prayer is that many many more people will turn to our Lord and Saviour and find freedom from fear and the ‘peace that excels all thought’ that only comes from knowing Him.


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