Embracing Differences in Marriage with Patience and Understanding

Marriage is a beautiful journey (we like to refer to it as an adventure) of two individuals coming together to share their lives. But just like any relationship, it also comes with its challenges. One of the most common challenges is dealing with differences in how each spouse approaches tasks and situations.

Joshua and Alyssa on the RoofWe discovered this even before we got married since we were friends for several years, but we both have slight differences in the ways that we do many things. It doesn’t help either that we both have strong firstborn personalities, so we both know that our way of doing things is the best way 😉

When your spouse does something differently than how you prefer, it can be tempting to try to change them. This is an ongoing challenge for me, especially.

I have learned, however, that sometimes it can be better to stay quiet and embrace these differences with grace. In view of eternity, some differences are honestly not that big of a deal, like the fact that Alyssa handwashes dishes with the faucet running while I only turn on the water once I’m ready to rinse the dishes.

There often is nothing to gain by asking your spouse to do something differently just because you prefer it that way (and Alyssa washes our dishes most of the time anyway, so she should get to do it the way she wants to!).

How to Embrace Differences with Grace

The Bible offers wisdom on how to handle differences and conflicts in various situations. One such passage is Proverbs 17:27-28: “He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.”

Sometimes it’s better not to say anything! There is value in restraint and wisdom in sometimes remaining silent.

Why start a conflict when you could instead accept a small difference and maintain peace and goodwill?

Here are a few advantages of keeping quiet instead of voicing certain preferences.

  1. You Foster Peace and Harmony
    By choosing not to voice every disagreement, you help to maintain a peaceful and harmonious home environment. Even constructive criticism on a regular basis can create tension and conflict, whereas patience and acceptance can strengthen your relationship.
  2. You Encourage Growth and Independence
    Allowing your spouse to handle tasks in their way can encourage their personal growth and independence. It shows trust and respect for their abilities and decisions.
  3. You Build Mutual Respect
    When you accept your spouse’s differences, you build a foundation of mutual respect. This respect fosters a deeper emotional connection and strengthens the bond between you.

Of course, there are times when you should speak up and have a kind-hearted discussion about some differences, especially if those differences significantly impact either of you spiritually, mentally, physically, or financially.

Some of these issues, if not addressed, can lead to misunderstandings or resentment over time. It’s important to find a balance between being patient and addressing significant concerns.

Consistently staying silent can stifle healthy communication. It is crucial to ensure that both partners feel heard and understood in the relationship. You need to learn how to differentiate between matters that need to be discussed and those that are insignificant.

In some cases, what might seem like a minor difference could be a symptom of a larger issue. Ignoring it could lead to more significant problems down the line. Again, discernment must be exercised. The example I gave above about washing the dishes is not a symptom of a larger issue, and it doesn’t impact either of us in a negative way.

When to Speak Up with Grace

While embracing differences with grace is important, there are situations where it is better to speak up…and still use grace.

  1. Matters of Principle or Values
    If the difference touches on core values or principles, it is essential to discuss it. Open communication about fundamental beliefs is crucial for a healthy relationship. Almost anything related to raising kids should be discussed.
  2. Impact on Well-Being
    If your spouse’s actions are affecting their well-being, your well-being, or the well-being of your family, it is necessary to address the issue. But do some soul-searching and praying to make sure you aren’t being selfish!
  3. Repeated Patterns
    If a particular behavior is a recurring source of conflict or stress, it might be time to have a constructive conversation about it. If you tend to get stressed easily over inconsequential things, though, you might want to get additional help and counsel for that.

When speaking up, it’s important to do so with love and respect. Colossians 3:12-14 advises, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.”

This passage reminds is addressed to the church, but if you and your spouse are both born-again Christians, you are a brother and sister in Christ and should treat each other as such. Approach your spouse with kindness and love, aiming to build them up rather than to get your way.


Learning to embrace differences with patience and understanding can foster peace, respect, and deeper connection. This is true of all relationships, but especially in marriage.

More and more often, I have found that I just have a lot of preferences, and just because my wife does something differently does not mean it’s wrong! There are usually multiple good ways to do things. Therefore, expressing my preference is often not necessary.

Remember, however, that there are also legitimate times to speak up and address significant issues. Do not come to these conclusions quickly, though, and try to approach these situations from a biblical perspective.

Embrace the adventure of growing together, accepting your differences, and always striving for unity and love!

Do you tend to express your opinions and preferences more often than necessary in your relationships?

How To Share Life Together Even When You Aren’t Together

Back when Alyssa and I decided to get married, we determined that we were going to share as much of life together as possible. After all, we looked at marriage as a new adventure that we were going to embark on together, not separately.

But there are times when we must necessarily be apart. For example, during the first few years of marriage, Alyssa worked 30 hours a week at a day job, which meant that every day we were apart while we worked our separate jobs. As far as our ministries are concerned, though, we are committed to doing those together and have found great joy in doing so.

Sometimes we have ministry, family, and other life commitments that require us to be apart for a few days, and this week is one of those times. Nevertheless, we make sure we can still see each other and talk face-to-face on a daily basis.

5-Year Anniversary PoseOne week ago we celebrated our 5-year anniversary, and, more than ever, we want to see each other every day.

We are blessed to live in a time when technology makes it possible for us to see each other live with the touch of a button. Even 15 years ago when we were in high school, it was not this easy to see somebody from a distance.

But this was how we planned our wedding and did our marriage counseling while Alyssa taught on Guam and I lived in Minnesota, and it continues to be the way that we converse every day during those times when we cannot be together in person.

Now that we have children, this is even more important to us because our children only stay young for such a short time, and we want to be able to see them every single day as they grow and develop.

We also want our children to know that we love them and want to spend time with them every single day. Someday when they are adults, we will not have this same expectation of them, especially as they get involved in ministries, jobs, and perhaps even their own families.

Alyssa and Baby Jadon on a Video CallBut right now while they are just little guys, we want to spend every day with them, and we want to spend every day with each other as well.

If you are married, we challenge you to find a way to see your spouse face-to-face every single day, even when you are far apart. We know that a lot of people are resistant to today’s technology, but give some consideration to the benefits that it offers as well.

It is one thing to talk to someone on the phone, and it is another thing to see them while you talk to them. You can use Facetime or Facebook Messenger or Zoom (or perhaps even Skype, haha); we personally use WhatsApp because it’s the best option 😉 But with the accessibility of video calling these days, there are not many reasons not to take advantage of it when talking to your spouse.

We still don’t like to be apart from each other if we can help it, but having the ability to see each other virtually makes it much easier to do the things that we need to do and still go on this adventure of life together every single day.

If you are married, do you make it a priority to see your spouse every day on the days when they are far away?

First Time in Africa!

I love to travel. I love seeing the different colors and cultures and food around the world! And I especially love to see how my brothers and sisters in Christ are serving our great God.

Alyssa Teaching with WhiteboardOur trip to Ghana was two firsts for me- first international trip with my husband (awww <3) and first visit to the continent of Africa. My new friends were so excited that Ghana was my first African experience! So what was Africa like? Let me tell you…

Culture- The culture is built on a complex system of respect for people, especially for those who are older than you are. We rarely carried anything anywhere around music camp because someone always stepped up to carry whatever we had in our hands (down to my water bottle). The students were quick to clean the chalkboard for me and rearrange space so that we didn’t do the work. I was always astounded to see what they could carry and balance on their heads! It’s so nice for them because then their hands are always free.

Alyssa with Food at Mole National ParkFood- The food was definitely unique! We were there during the tomato season so tomatoes were in everything we ate in some form or another. We had fufu, cassava, banku, jollof rice, redred, and gari (just to name a few things :). The flavors and textures of Ghanaian foods are so unique that I don’t even know how to describe them to you… you’ll have to go and taste them for yourself! They also use lots of ground nut (American translation- peanut!) and plantain and cook with palm oil as their base for many dishes.

Shopping- We shopped both in the supermarkets and in the open-air markets of Wa. I love visiting the typical daily market because I love all the colors, sights, and smells; it reminds me of living in Perú and going to the market with my roommate and Peruvian family.

Our trip to the market was focused on buying material for curtains for our dining room/living room space. I loved flipping through piles and piles of brightly colored fabric and stretching out yards of material. Ghanaian fabric can sometimes have “surprises” tucked into the designs, like smiley faces or funny animal patterns when you see it all together. We finally decided on a fun pattern with colors to go with our simple paint colors! Watch for future pictures of our dining room/living room to see what the curtains look like 🙂

Baptist Church in GhanaChurch- Wooden benches, simple structures, open windows- these were the common denominator among the church buildings that we visited. But the church isn’t the building- it’s the people. The people greeted each other warmly and sang each song with all their enthusiasm, rejoicing in what our great Savior had done for them.

Our American churches should be ashamed at our lack of excitement in lifting praise to our Savior through song. The buildings were a little warm (by American standards) but that didn’t stop the people from squeezing another little friend or grandma onto the bench beside them. At one church, I turned around to see that most of the people behind me were under the age of 10 years old. They were sitting attentively and joining in whenever they could.

Music- The best part about teaching music in Ghana was that I was teaching the most eager learners I have ever met. They soaked up everything I told them and stayed in their seats at the end of class to ask more questions and to write down everything I had said. They all loved music and wanted to know how it worked and how to improve on what they already do with it. It was a tremendous blessing to be able to pour into someone else what has been invested in me over many years.

“You Are Welcome”

In Ghana the Best Things are Yello“You are welcome!”

As Mrs. Karis Mapes greeted us, memories of 2018 started to flood back into my mind. The standard greeting reminded me that I was once again immersed in Ghanaian culture. It wasn’t just a dream: I truly was back in Africa.

We had braved 35 hours of flight time and layovers, arriving safely in Accra shortly after 4am. But the weariness was worth it.

I happily sipped on a plastic bag of cold, purified water before going to bed. The sun was slowly making its daily appearance, but we needed all the rest we could get after two days of flying and before our 14-hour overnight bus trip.

Twelve hours later we peered through the large windows as our bus carefully pulled out of the station. The mass of humanity surrounding us parted like the Red Sea as our driver honked and started to move forward.

Loud music streamed through the speakers as we bounced along through town. “Over the speedbumps and through the potholes to Upper West Region we go!” If only that was a real song, nothing would have been more fitting to play on those CrAzY roads.

Suddenly, loud arguing and shouting ensued as we exited the city. I could distinguish a few words of English, but not enough to understand what was going on. But it was clear that someone was not happy!

I looked up to see that the driver had switched from music to movies. The source of the shouting was merely a movie for us to enjoy. Alas, the long night of quarrelsome movies had begun, a staple on Ghanaian bus trips. I closed my eyes and tried to ignore the sounds.

Thankfully, I was mostly successful.

When we finally arrived at our final destination the next day, I almost felt like I was back at home.

“Bzzzzzzzz!!!” The early morning cambus (small, tricycle-like modes of transportation) whizzed by as I exited the bus and leapt over the two-foot deep street gutter.

Mr. and Mrs. Mapes, Olivia, Alyssa, and I retrieved our numerous belongings from the belly of the bus and got the attention of a couple of those cambus. Typically, we can fit two or three people inside these small taxis. This time, we divided up five people, four large suitcases, and five smaller suitcases and bags between the two cambus.

Somehow, we all fit…

“Here we go, team!” Olivia called out cheerfully as we pretended to be as skinny as kids and piled on top of each other.


First Cambu RideAh! Fresh air with a hint of diesel. Riding to the Mapes’ home in an open-air vehicle was such a refreshing way to wake up. It was also a nice contrast to the bus we had just disembarked.

Thus began an exciting two weeks in West Africa. After going to Ghana in 2018 for the first time to help with the inaugural Making Melody Camp hosted by West Africa Baptist College, I got to return this year with my new wife for the second annual week of music.

“You are welcome!”

Over and over again we were greeted by the Ghanaian nationals as they visited us at the Mapes’ home. They are so friendly! Whether you meet someone for the first time or reacquaint yourself with an old friend, they always make you feel welcome.

In the next post I will write specifically about the Making Melody Camp…if I wrote it here, this post would get really long.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for caring!

Back from Ghana and 100 Days of Marriage!

Making Melody CampersThank you for praying for us! We have returned safely from our trip to Ghana and have jumped back into life here in Minnesota.

The final concert for Making Melody Camp in Ghana went so smoothly! Our final rehearsal earlier in the day was quite the adventure when the power went off and we were without a keyboard and lights. But everyone was flexible and we even dodged the raindrops for a partial outdoor rehearsal. Some churches and a few community members attended the concert and thoroughly enjoyed it.

We put together a video summarizing the week of music camp (complete with wandering sheep and Ghanaian outfits!). We are praying that God will provide the next team to serve in Ghana in 2020, and we would love to talk with you more if you are interested!

We also celebrated our 100th day of marriage this week- woohoo! We’re excited to see all that God has ahead in the next 100 days.

Thanks for praying for us! Until next time, love God, make new friends, and eat your snacks!