In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us! Colossians 3:11 (NLT)
If you were awake yesterday while you were listening or reading, you may have been surprised (or not) at the extensive list of differences between my bride and me. You might have thought, “How in the world have they stayed together close to half-a-century and not killed each other?” Trust me; Elizabeth has wondered that at times too!
Pheromones and Familiarity (Chemicals and Curiosity)
Of the possible reasons why personality diversity works in a marriage, social scientists have suggested that pheromones (the chemical attraction) and familiarity, our innate curiosity about those who are different (opposites attract theory) are what bind “odd bedfellows” together.
I don’t doubt that there is some connection here, but the sparks of romance and the “new” of something different only go so far. Remember the old saying, “Looks don’t last, but cookin’ do”? Romance (the pheromone, animal attraction) is perhaps enough to get our attention, but romance will ebb and flow, with “flowing” getting the top billing. Romance is not bad, but, with all apologies to John Lennon, Love is all you need just ain’t true! There has to be something more.
And curiosity can’t be the answer to what holds people together either; remember that’s what killed the cat.
In many discussions over the years about how differently we think, Elizabeth and I have come to the conclusion that it is Christ living inside both of us that makes all the difference about the differences. He is “holy glue” in this “holy mixture of a marriage”! There is no other satisfactory explanation.
It’s a sad commentary on our culture, particularly in America, that pheromones and our cultural preoccupation with sex take center stage, while the weightier issues of relationship fade into the background. Those weightier issues are, of course, integrity, sexual purity and the respect of persons that go along with such. You cannot begin to understand the ultimate and inestimable worth of another human being when you treat that person as a sexual target, or as casual acquaintance. Genuine relationship must explore more deeply than pheromones or familiarity. Our diversity must be confronted!
It is true that differences cause problems, hurt feelings and sometimes take long (really long, “late into the night kind of long”) discussions to arrive at common ground. But, in the long run, that really isn’t a bad thing – it’s what helps us know the other person in our holy mixtures of marriage, family relationships and the other spheres of our lives (friends, work, church and more).
The message here is: don’t jump into (or out of) relationships based solely on pheromones and familiarity; commit to knowing a person inside, spiritually and intellectually.
Become friends before becoming lovers. You see a lot clearer then.