Irreconcilable Differences

When I married Joy on a sweltering hot July day in the 1980’s, I could never have imagined how irreconcilably different we were. I just knew she was gorgeous and she liked me.


At a recent marriage retreat we attended, participants were asked to fill 4-6 lines with the areas where they were significantly different than their spouses.  Forget about lines; we filled two pages.  I don’t think we heard another thing the whole session.  We were too busy listing and laughing over our differences.


Joy & Roger at Marriage Retreat
Joy & Roger at Marriage Retreat

For kicks, (and with Joy’s permission!), I thought I’d share the ever-growing list with you.


* Joy enjoys having a wide variety of clothes but I could happily wear two or three clothing combos all year.

* I love to play games of every kind while Joy has played one game all year.

* Joy likes classy drinks like wine while I enjoy sweet mixed drinks and Smirnoffs.

* Roger likes to cook a meal in 20 minutes or less while Joy takes 20 minutes  figuring out what she’d like to cook.

* Fixing a meal for 30 guests is an exciting challenge for me, while planning a meal for four will cost Joy two night of sleep.

* Joy is an extrovert while I am an introvert.

* I love change; Joy endures change.

* Joy’s brain invents things to worry about; I have yet to figure out what worry actually is, which increases Joy’s worry.

* I follow sports all through the year; Joy watches the Super Bowl commercials.

* Joy loves an evening watching t.v. or movies; I have never seen Lord of the Rings, Titanic, or the Godfather.

* Our sex drives differ considerably.  Something changed after the honeymoon. Just saying.

* Just yesterday, I passed a car on a two-laned highway; Joy hasn’t passed someone on a two-laned highway since the Reagan administration.

* Joy loves to ask people for help; I haven’t asked for help since the Reagan administration.

* I really like to be on time while Joy has no real use for annoyances like clocks.

* Joy loves a great meal at a restaurant, while I’d much rather fix and eat a meal at home.

* I love to win a game, but Joy doesn’t even keep score.

* Joy has a hard time saying “no;” I have a hard time eking out a “maybe.”

* I am deeply analytical while Joy is happy-go-lucky.

* Joy loves people; I like people…sometimes.

* It is important to Joy how she and her clothes look; I rarely even look in a mirror.

* Joy loves Christian radio; I almost always skip over Christian stations on the dial.

* I love to take risks; Joy loves safety.

* Joy is very affectionate; I have the romantic streak of a pine tree.

* I am a cheapskate, but Joy likes to buy something a bit pricier every now and then.

* Joy loves to receive gifts; I could care less whether I got a gift or not.

* We both like walking, but even there we are different; I prefer a stroll and she likes a brisk pace.


In July of 2013, we will celebrate 30 years of marriage!  That’s right; our marriage has survived those differences for 29 years.  I sometimes wonder how, because our differences seem to be increasing, not decreasing.  I am quite certain our marriage could not have survived without two people: Joy and Jesus.


My wife, Joy, is extremely gracious and forgiving.  I had no idea what I was getting when I married her.  We are married today because of her grace, but there is more.


The life and teaching and power of Jesus has marked me.  He is teaching me that life and marriage is not about me and my interests.  It is about the interests of God.  It matters to God that I look out for Joy more than myself, even when it costs me.  Good luck with that idea!


But that’s where it gets crazy.  He has helped me to do that…at least some of the time.  I’m not good at looking out for others, but Jesus has surfaced that in me more than I would have dreamed possible.  Add that to the list of God’s biggest miracles!


And here’s what’s funny.  Relinquishing the things I prefer or want has, in the end, given me a life and a marriage that I really do want.  Come to think of it—that is exactly what Jesus said would happen.


“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”


(Jesus, as recorded in the Bible, New International Version, Matthew 16:25)











  1. Wendy Payne

    So thankful that you shared, JP & I will be married 19 years this year, hard to imagine but yes it happened that quickly. So sweet that you shared, we too are that different but God connects us & I think that’s always His plan, if we were more similar it would be harder to extend grace, compassion, and understanding this way it takes practice 😉 and we must practice if we are to be like Christ. Our flesh wants it our way but Zhe who loves us partners us with those that help us become who He wants us to be. So thanks for sharing, love you guys!!

  2. Carrye

    Hahaha. “the romantic streak of a pine tree” set me off laughing for awhile. I think I startled Jeff. I also find it interesting that 3 of your 4 kids do not care much what a clock says.

    This was quite funny- Jeff and I may need to write these things down about ourselves…just for ha ha’s. (Our list would look a little different, of course…it may surprise you to know that I am the aggressive driver of the two of us.) Love you!

    1. Carrye

      Hm…maybe there are only 2 of us who really don’t care for a clock. Now I’m second guessing whether the third I was thinking of was only late because he relied on the other two for rides places.

  3. Lisa Morin

    The “romantic streak of a pine tree” got me too. I was laughing so hard at work during lunch that people poked their heads into my office and were cracking up when they saw me. As always, Roger, you are a wonderful teacher and you make your points come alive through human example. Loving your continued teachings!


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