Making Marriage Work 2: Complementary

February–and specifically Valentine’s Day—is the love month.  I thought for sure I was getting engaged on Valentine’s 38 years ago. Alas, it was not to be for another month.  Such a waste of the day of love.

Yes, the romance of Valentine’s, engagement and weddings is special.  But marriage is about much more than those celebrations.  Marriage is about the realities that live out that love day after day, year after year.  Steve and I still love and enjoy each other 38 years later.  We have three amazing children and five remarkable grandchildren, who call me Jeedoo.

We know it is God’s grace that we have continued to truly delight in our life together.  But there are some truths that have contributed to our peace and joy and love.  I will share just three of them, with a few specifics in each.  The three realities:  We are compatible.  We are complementary.  We are complimentary. I wrote about these last year, with great response.  So here they are again, with a few additions.



This word, spelled with an “e”, often means ‘completing”:  either of two parts or things needed to complete the whole.  There is a sense in which two people in marriage help to complete the other, but in reality only Christ completes us.  And we certainly wouldn’t say all our single friends are not complete until/unless they find a mate.

So a better definition of complementary in marriage is counterpart.  This is where the “opposites attract” comes in. Though it is good that we have significant compatibilities, as I talked about in the first post, the reality is that we will also have significant differences.  Our strengths and weaknesses, our personalities and temperaments “complement” each other. Here are a few (of many) areas where Steve and I are complementary:


I have them—lots of them.  Which is, of course, a good thing for a writer.  He, not so much.  He is an engineer.  But God has used us so much in each other’s lives.  We jokingly say that everything Steve knows about emotions he learned from me.  How he has grown: compassionate, sensitive, even sentimental.  Steve has helped me to trust God more and not live so much from my emotions.

He loves that I am passionate about many things, though he probably doesn’t always appreciate my stubbornness.  I love that he is so wise and grateful that he helps me think things through–though I am glad he has learned sometimes I just want him to listen, not solve every problem.


I have often felt that money flies away from me, but it sticks to Steve.  This is a very good thing.  Though we have the same basic attitude toward our finances (see post #1), he tends to be more frugal and keep track of things.

I don’t like numbers and details; he is great in both.  I am good at finding bargains, though he often reminds me that spending is not saving.  My favorite thing to do is give, which he likes, but he encourages me to be wise there as well.  Needless to say, Steve is the money manager, but we make our financial decisions together.

Walking with God

Yes, lots of compatibility here, but also some differences.  Steve is more of a scholar in studying the Word, and he is great at application–and a superb teacher.  I am a little more mystical, using my head, but more of my heart in relating to God.

It seems to me his walk with God is easier:  Steve sees something in the Word, and he does it.  It usually takes me several--or more--iterations of a lesson before I consistently live it out, though that process certainly enhances my writing and speaking.  Gratefully, we seek to learn from each other and appreciate our different approaches.  We gladly teach and receive from each other.

There are other ways we are complementary:  Steve is neat and organized; I’m not so much.  I’m a little better at sensing the needs of people.  He is very hard working–lots of time off is not so fun for him.  I work hard, but I can spend hours with a good book.  We both write, and my editing skills are helpful to him. I do internet research for both of us.  He is very disciplined.  I think he prays for me in this area.   And many more…

I’m sure that, as much as compatibility is a key ingredient in a healthy marriage, so is being complementary.  One of the results of long-term loving and living with that special person is the impact each has on the other. We bring to the marriage strengths and weaknesses–ways we contribute, and ways we learn from the other.  God knows what He’s doing when He puts us together with our spouse–who will be the just right counterpart for us.Tomorrow we will look at how we are complimentary.

What about you?  What are strengths that you bring–or would bring–to your marriage?

c2013 Judy Douglass