Sandpaper Spouses

Sandpaper Spouses

February 24, 2016

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)

“This is NOT what I signed up for!” I cried out to God as I sat cross-legged on the bedroom floor of our first apartment, my eyes stinging with hot tears. Out in the living room sat my husband — bewildered, completely exasperated, unable to handle his wife’s volatile emotions.

I was a brand new bride of just six weeks. Our thank-you notes for the wedding gifts hadn’t even been sent! But already I had buyer’s remorse. Or I guess more accurately, “bridal remorse.” All I knew was that this “Happily Ever After” thing was not-so-happy after all.

The first few years of my marriage were rocky and rough. I had envisioned a relationship of marital bliss. Flowers. Candlelight dinners. Holding hands at the movies. Long strolls on the beach.

Then the wall of reality hit. Instead of the candlelight dinner, it was burnt roast. When he once again came home late from work, I wrongly interpreted that as him caring little about my culinary efforts. We didn’t get to the hand-holding at the theater much because we couldn’t make up our minds about which show to see. And I strolled on the beach, all right — all alone — just after I stormed away from my husband following yet another argument.

Although we possessed a mutual love for each other (really we did) our personalities and approach to life could not have been more different! In fact, we joke today that if we went on one of those online dating sites, instead of matching us up as perfect soul mates, the computer screen would blink a bright red message “DO NOT DATE! TOTALLY INCOMPATIBLE!”

Often, my husband and I just plain rub each other the wrong way. Yep. We’re different. We are what I call “sandpaper spouses” and our rough-around-the-edges relationship often finds us turning to God when we feel like turning away from each other.

When we encounter conflict, I am verbal and process my thoughts quickly, backing him into a corner. He prefers to pause and ponder before sorting his thoughts or sharing his feelings. This difference makes him view me as critical and combative. And I label him an avoider, accusing him of caring little about resolving conflict.

When making decisions, he is methodical and thorough, carefully weighing all options. I prefer to decide in a snap and forge ahead to the next thing. This difference causes me to label him as indecisive and tempts him to brand me knee-jerk and impulsive.

Having a spouse who faces life differently can often tempt us to attack each other. But what if instead we were to flip the situation, and see things that rub us the wrong way as blessings instead … that enable our spiritual growth?

Today’s key verse states, “Iron sharpens iron.” If your kitchen knife is dull, you sharpen it by grinding it against a rough stone, not by rubbing it on cushy cotton. In the same way, the rough patches in our personalities can help sharpen us in the areas of love, compassion and patience — mostly patience!

And I know from experience that my less-than-perfect marriage has grown my prayer life immensely as I take my concerns to God during times of tumult.

My husband’s slower-paced decision making causes me to pause and pray before I forge ahead and consider other options I might not have thought of initially. My verbal processing encourages my husband to talk through issues rather than stuff his feelings inside, where they might fester and explode later. And our different philosophies teach us patience and perspective.

Will you join me today in thanking God for sandpaper spouses? Rather than our differences driving us crazy, instead may they drive us all straight to our knees.

Father, I want to see the differences in my marriage as opportunities for growth as I take my concerns — and my attitudes and responses — to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Colossians 3:12-13, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the LORD has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (ESV)

Hebrews 13:4a, “Marriage should be honored by all …”

For a free printable entitled “10 Ways to Love Your Sandpaper Spouse” and a chance to win Karen Ehman’s book LET. IT. GO.: How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith, visit Karen’s blog.

In what ways does dealing with personality differences in marriage help to smooth out your rough edges? List what it has done for you. (For example: developed patience, driven you to prayer, etc.)

© 2016 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

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  1. Thank you. I really appreciated this tonight. This was perfect timing.

  2. Yesenia Alferez says:

    Love, love, love this devotion. Totally points out the truth of our God given spouses.My husband is an introvert while I am an extrovert.Not always easy but trying to be positive about our differences.Thank you for this reminder!

  3. Sherry Meyer says:

    I’d like a copy of the free printable about sandpaper spouses but cannot find it. Can you help?

  4. Thanks for this! My husband and I took a small personality quiz tonight and it’s so funny this was the topic this evening. We are truly so different in so many ways and I think more time praising God for our differences is a new goal!

  5. I really needed to read this tonight. I am needing prayers for my marriage. For restoration. Lord please guide me and give me strength. Soften his heart and lead him home. In Jesus name, AMEN.

  6. Amen. Thank you

  7. Love to read the devos on here, they are really hitting home. My husband and I need prayers for restoration and direction. And, where can the list of 10 ways to love your spouse be found? Couldn’t locate them either. Thanks

  8. That’s my experince. With God’s grace & help everyday I hope I am the wife I am meant to be.

  9. God knows what we need to hear at the perfect time. Learning to love my sandpaper spouse of almost 30 years and be persistent in prayer. Thank you for your encouraging words, Karen!

  10. Thank you for this message. My husband and I just had prayer and a discussion about to deal with our different personalities as we plan our family vacation.

  11. Thank you for this , it truly has been a blessing reading this ….We give all Glory to God

  12. Led me to
    A stronger relationship with God and my spouse through prayer !! You cannot continually bash your spouse to others when you love him with all your heart… You wouldn’t bash God to others thenexpect them to love Him… So why do that to your husband … So when the sand paper gets to rough ( or even a little ) go to your knees and take it to the one who knows all!!

  13. I believe this devotion can be useful in building relationships with so many others God brings into our lives.
    I believe it is also useful for individual believers who need to restore their relationship with themselves as a child of
    I can reflect back that my husband and I were indeed sandpaper to one another
    which was a blessing.It didn’t always seem like a blessing, but we learned our
    marriage depended upon it.Being drawn back to God through prayer made all the difference.The reassurance of being loved shown in a warm hug or the twinkle of loving eyes often reflected God’s unending love.
    Now that I am a widow, those warm hugs
    and twinkling eyes take the form of hands folded in prayer and the promise that Jesus will return in the blink of an eye.

  14. I can so relate, yet so thankful for my husband and our marriage.

  15. In Jesus name, Amen!

  16. Lord have mercy!! Sometimes these devotin are like someone has peeked into my life and decided to write about it! I have been married 9 months and this journey has been rough- thank you for letting me know that Im not the only one and it isnt me ?

  17. I loved this post. My husband & I always seem to bicker. I prefer now to call us sandpaper spouses. I believe God is developing His characteristics in us as we resolve issues.

  18. Early in our marriage, my husband and I were having one of these moments. He sat silent.

    “What did I do wrong?” I wailed.

    He responded, “Do you think you are the only problem I have?”

    Ah, Karen, you offer such wise words. Thank you.

  19. hmmm…………sounds like another couple I know ;-)! Thank you for this. God bless you and keep you turning to Him for guidance and in the middle of your marriage keeping you one in Christ!

  20. WOW! This is describes the relationship my hubby and I have almost perfectly, lol…Our marriage was pretty rough the first couple years, too. Not only are we so different in our thought processes and how we handle things, but we come from completely two different cultures. I’m 100% Italian, and German dominates his family…LOUD and QUIET decided to get married, lol…who’d a thunk?!? He has taught me so much though. God knew EXACTLY what He was doing. I look back and see how much more sharpened we’ve become as persons, and how much stronger and unbreakable our love for each other has become. If we went through the trials we have faced recently at the beginning of our marriage, we would not be together. Our love has kept us from giving up! Thank you Jesus!

  21. I am a get it done person! I mean get it done then move on to tackle what’s next. I zip through the market and if something needs done I figure why wait until tomorrow when I can do it yesterday. Lol,yes I meant to say yesterday…3 years ago I married the sloooooowwwweeessst man in (every situation) that God put on the earth. I mean it is crazy!!!!! He does everything like there is nothing but that moment. You know what I mean?, the time it takes this man to eat a cookie! I really do just sit there in awe!!! but I love him dearly and I tell often that he is so good for me and how much I need and love him.In slowing down with him I see so much that I have been missing!

  22. Annette Pierce says:

    Thank you, Karen, for your message! I think anyone that has been married any length of time can relate to it! Your analogy of the sandpaper is spot on. I think too that God gave us sandpaper spouses to smooth and finish our rough edges as is the purpose of sandpaper. As we approach our marriages, it is wise to use the sandpaper approach instead of the hammer, drill, or other tool to smooth our relationships, like your realization of how to approach your husband. Again, thank you for your message!

  23. Karen, you and I are sisters from the biggest Mr.and our husband’s brothers of the same! We are external processors: they are internal processors.
    My husband and I are complete opposites- and have the psychological profiles to prove it!
    But after 27 years of marriage, and finally in agreement to see a counselor, we have the marriage we both always wanted. Our strengths perfectly compliment our weaknesss which we now use to our advantage in understanding each other instead of against each other.
    God IS faithful! Never give up hope!

  24. Our relationship with God is the only relationship where only one of us is right all the time or loving all the time, and of course, God is the one. He helps us with our relationships because He loves us and uses our relationship with Him to remind us that though we are full of deficits in comparison to Him, He doesn’t choose to frame us that way. Instead of deficit perspective of all we aren’t and cannot do, He sees the capacity in us for what we can do right, are currently doing right, and all the ways His strength can help us transform weaknesses to strengths. That blows my mind! It is so easy for me to have deficit perspectives of others sometimes, a human tendency, I think. But when I remember how God sees me, I can pull from those reservoirs of loving strength and reframe others in capacity-building ways instead of deficits. You have done a wonderful job expressing this in your blog today!! I needed that reminder, and I thank you!

  25. Sarah McClellan says:

    It’s pretty safe to say that you, Karen, had a front-row seat to the first year of my marriage. So many times I cried out (literally) to God, and said, “If this is married life, then I want out! I can’t do this for the rest of my life…I won’t do this.” I prayed fervently for a change, and it was during that time that a friend invited us to her church. We were really unhappy at the church we attended, but didn’t know how to go about the “shopping” process. We checked out her church, and we liked it, but we rarely went back. So my friend invited me to a women’s bible study. I attended faithfully and loved every moment of it. Then my hubby and I slowly started attending church. By year two of our marriage, God had answered my plea. We were attending church, participating in life groups together and separately, and we were chasing after the Lord. God changed my heart, which in turn helped my husband to explore his. As we prepare to enter year 5 with our second baby on the way, I stand back amazed at all the Lord did for my family. I often find myself still in utter amazement that we’re where we are today.

  26. What a blessing this is to me. Sometimes, we feel like no one else understands our struggles but this sums it up perfectly. It seems like you and your spouse lives with me and mine (lol). Thanks for the honesty and transparency that you’ve so accurately written about today. God’s continued grace you you, my Sister.

  27. good morning…..once again….pretty neat devo….obviously deja vue for many couples..
    To Shirlee…..i truly truly enjoyed your husbands comment…i am going to relay that one to my husband tonite….i just had to laugh,…..& am still smiling……probably one of the best converssation sentences pcs..ever,…….THANK YOU SHIRLEE & HUBBY…

    have a blessed day………………….kathy wyg

  28. This speaks right to me. My husband and I are definitely sandpaper spouses. This article has opened my eyes to pray for understanding and wisdom. Thank you for sharing! Instead of running away, I can run to God with my marriage.

  29. I couldn’t believe what God placed in this email for me as it was perfect for the emotional time my hub and I had last night. I always feel he doesn’t react in certain ways as I do and i take it as he doesn’t care and it frustrates me so much I push and push him until I get something, whether bad or good. This spoke to me and I will really try and see how rough edges as an opportunity to grow.
    Awesome post!!

  30. Thank you for the reminder of how our husband’s differences can teach us patience and perspective. I testify to that and through this experience, I’ve grown so much as an individual just learning to live life with him; and to top it off adding the in laws as well. Just this past weekend, I called my husband boring (which wasn’t really nice of me) because I was getting frustrated that we don’t have much in common. LOL. So this is a great reminder I should be thankful for my sandpaper spouse!

  31. Lol…as I was reading your story, I felt like I was reading my story…all of it. My husband & I didn’t realize we were opposites until we got married :-). Sandpaper doesn’t feel good but you end up with a smoother finish in the end. Great post!!

  32. terri jones says:

    Wow, You hit it right on the Head!!!. Thank you , for sound abvice. I will remember that always.
    I will share this with my married friends.

  33. My husband has a gentle and calming personality. For a big guy, he has a light touch and approach. I, on the other hand am rough and tend to get loud pretty much all the time which doesn’t bode well with him since he hates yelling. These opposites have worked against us and now I’m making them work for us as I am choosing to keep my big mouth shut and let him lead. My husband doesn’t want me to second guess his descisions, he wants me to be quiet and let him know I trust him to be a competent person. Which at first was hard for me to handle but now, I gladly accept since we’re in this together.

  34. What a perfect devotion for this morning. I think for me I would leave a treat in the car for him. I have done time travel and loved that he always gave me cards with scripture on them but he isn’t into that anymore, I did leave Valentines candy and a note on his pillow and he didn’t say anything about it, I have prayed for him and made special meals so I think leaving a treat is about the only thing left. Will give that a try.

  35. This message has me in tears.. I have been married for 13 years and my marriage has taken a turn for the worse . My husband had left the home and I do t know where to begin to start the mending. Thank you for sharing this message

  36. Stacy L. Boggs says:

    Thank you! This very words have been so needed. I’ve begun a new Bible Study and the Holy Spirit has been speaking to me about this very issue. I have good marriage, a loving spouse who prays with me, for me and over me, but we are so different. I love that about us and how God placed us together to bring out the best in both of us, to serve HIM better together, than alone.
    I would love to have the free printable.

  37. janny holder says:

    I absolutely get this devotional today, it was like my story unfolding. I have learned to take the opportunity to draw closer to God and pray consistently for my marriage. My husband and I are like night and day, but I do see the good in him and that makes me a better wife. I thank you for allowing me to reflect on my life and marriage and to pray that our differences make us stronger in our marriage.

  38. It’s too late for me. I pray that he’ll sign the decree he’s been sitting on for almost 3 months now simply to infuriate me. I know I married the wrong man for all the wrong reasons

  39. Wow, this really hit home this morning. My husband and I are high school sweethearts, parents to three sons. Married life was great when the kids were home but since they are all grown up and on their own I realize my husband and I are totally different. He is very, very quiet, thinks everything thru where I on the other hand sometimes respond without thinking. I love him dearly and this just made me realize I need to pray for patience. Thanks for posting this today.

  40. Yes, we definitely have some ‘opposite’ and are learning to run to God more quickly, thinking well of each other despite what it ‘feels’ like is happening, and taking things slowly – or at least slower (-; Thanks for the transparency in sharing your life with us! Would love a copy of the book!

  41. This is possibly the best devotional I’ve ever read. I’ve been married for 32 years and never thought of our opposite personalities in this way. I haven’t gone to God for help the way I should have because I preferred to be angry & self-righteous. Wow — words fail me right now. Thank you for this devotional & this ministry.

  42. Stefani N. says:

    I just read the Sandpaper Spouses, my husband sends me devotions often at work. We too are newly married, and it has been very rough!! I have an 8 year old that is also trying to adjust to having a new member in our family. We all have been having to make adjustments. My husband and I have attended pre-martial counseling at the church, and still attend after our marriage. We have argued with one another so bad, I have had that feeling of “what have I done”. After I read this devotion today, I started to tear up, thinking “Thank God, I’m not alone, this does happen to other people”!! I read the devotion twice, and then a third time. My husband and I are working on patience to communicate with one another. This situation almost mirrors ours. I love him dearly, and I just want all of us to live in harmony, I soon realized it does not happen over night. I am a get it done now, no time to waste indecision making. He likes to process things. However, he gets unnerved very easily and is learning patience himself in a one bathroom house with 3 people. At first I was offended that he constantly complained about everything, made me feel inadequate. I am a Alpha personality , so I was trying to see what I could do better?? After our last counseling session, we both are to just try to relax and always put God first, quit trying to “solve” things….
    Our pastor recommended everyday we verbally thank the Lord for what we have…
    Thank you Lord for my spouse…
    Thank you Lord for my son…
    Thank you Lord for my job….
    Thank you Lord for our home….etc.
    He said this was to put in perspective that we had so much to be thankful for, and try to not let the little things bother us so much…
    I am day 3 of the “Thankful” and I do say it does put me in a different frame of mind.
    everyone have a blessed day, prayers to all of us “sandpaper spouses”…:)

  43. Love the term – Sandpaper Spouse – that applies to both of us. It is so easy to focus on the negative and not see the sandpaper in myself. As far as the 10 ways – They are all great reminders to do for your spouse. Surprises are always good, so leaving a treat or post-it note in the car or brief case, or note on the bathroom mirror are fun and easy things to do. Thank you for this devotional and list.

  44. If you don’t have something good to say. Don’t say it. No one likes a constantly barking dog, and yes we are all born animal. My wife and I can verbal it too. An expensive pair of boxing gloves or both of you get to a martial arts class. Not Taekwondo!! I’m 60 years of age with no regrets. Jesus does not love me any more than you. Don’t take this wrong ?

  45. Wow – did I need this today!!
    THANK YOU!!!!!!

  46. My husband & I are so opposite. When we do a project together, it takes a while before we come to terms and can make a decision. We’ve been married 28 yrs now and it’s been tough go for me. We love each other but are not on the same page when it comes to Jesus. I pray a lot but I’m not sure about him. We do have good times together but I’m really not sure why we were brought together. I feel so guilty about my feelings but I keep plugging along a d enjoy the good times we have.

  47. Hi I married my sandpaper spouse 24 years ago. I wish I knew then what I know now! Please and thank you go a long way – especially when you don’t know what to say. Appreciation is a close second. There are many “grits” of sandpaper. I hope mine is a finer grade to finish and smooth rather than abrade. Thanks for this post. It made my day! By the way, I am the thinker and processor. Our joke is “I’ll get back to you xxx. It will take me that long to process it”. I have a 3 day turnaround time!

  48. Wow! Can I relate to this!! Sandpaper spouses. Never heard it called that before but can absolutely claim that title. My husband and I are so different and I can see where God has used each of us as sandpaper for the other. We married quickly after meeting on one of those dating sites (LOL), him bringing in the baggage of divorce, depression, and a host of other issues, me bringing in the baggage of independence and a strong will to do things my way after raising my children as a single mom for 15 years after their daddy went home to Jesus. I felt very confident in my abilities to care for myself, and I guess you could say I was pretty set in my ways. My husband once said that I had lived on my own for too long. While I resented the statement at the time, the Lord gently showed me that it was true! Now we are almost 12 years into our marriage, one that almost ended a few times, but God is soooooo good and we are more in love today than we ever could have dreamed of being 12 years ago when we first met. For several years in the midst of our darkest times, I personalized and prayed Hebrews 11:1 over our situation. “Now faith is the substance of the marriage I hope for, the evidence of the marriage not seen.” God is faithful and true to His word.

  49. I could have totally written this post except we are the opposite, I’m the one to think before speaking & he speaks what is on his mind at that moment. Our first years of marriage was so hard but we are both so thankful God made us tough out those hard times because it’s made us who we are & our marriage is a valuable treasure now. We will be celebrating our 25th anniversary in Dec and we pray that not only our boys but everyone would hang in there & keep God in their marriage because it’s truly something that is worth all the hard work & effort.

  50. We have always been “sandpaper spouses” and times of change seem to make that sandpaper a bit rougher. Thank you for this timely devotion as we are transitioning back to life in the US after living on the mission field for 2 years. I’m finding I am focusing way to much on the differences between us and forgetting all the common ground we have and that those differences are truly a blessing. I plan to implement #10 on your list, setting a specific time of day to pray for my spouse. I know how well simply praying for another person can change our heart towards them.

  51. wow this hits home hard but in a good way. I almost deleted but felt God telling me to read it. It was an eye opener. It was hard to read as God pointed out some things I didn’t want pointed out. I have been struggling with whether to keep working on my marriage because the sandpaper has become too much. I think God is telling me to let him take over.
    thank you for this. I don’t have an easy road ahead but I am going to try to keep going

  52. I am the quiet, contemplative husband. I have wept a good part of the morning. This devotion is like a mirror. We are going into year 11 and the wounds are so raw that now the slightest “rub” causes deep hurt and emotional pain. I feel like I live life “flying below the radar.” I say this to encourage others to STOP and work on it now. Don’t get here … It is so hard. While the thought of more conflict makes my stomach into knots, I can’t give up. Men like me reading this, be encouraged. Step up too. Wives of guys like me, love us LOUD and gently. Be encouraged. I still love my wife and desperately want deep relationship. I bet a lot of other husbands do too. Yep, I said it! Truth.

  53. Driven me to prayer and a deeper relationship with my Heavenly Father

  54. Yes, you have said it perfectly. It has brought me closer to God. I also have realized that I am not always right like I thought…haha. I do love my man even though we rub each other wrong we compliment each other perfectly. We farm together and it gets kind of crazy at times but each season gets better and better. Gotta love how God gets us to grow!

  55. Sonnie Jane says:

    and so HELP us GOD Colossians 3:12-13, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the LORD has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (ESV)
    Hebrews 13:4a, “Marriage should be honored by all …”

  56. Maria Ferrand says:

    Thank you for your story; it resonates with me as my spouse and I are like that, except in reverse. What I have learned in our 27 year marriage is that we all come with expectations, based on our own parents marriages – whether good, bad, or indifferent. Mixed in with that is our fantasy of what could be, which will always collide with what is.

    As I seek to grow in my relationship with God, I am always convicted of letting God work his awesomeness in my spouse. I don’t need to own that or control it. My duty is to love him, support him and pray for him.

    Blessings to you!

  57. I can not tell you how much of a blessing it was to read this today! I was just praying about how different my husband and I are and sometimes it is tempting to wonder if we are a good “fit” for each other. This has changed my mindset about our differences. Thank you for sharing your story!

  58. Its encouraging to know that my husband and I are not the only ones to rub each other the wrong way! The first year and a half of our marriage has not been easy. There have been plenty of times I wished to be single again! But thank God we have a bright future ahead, where we will continue to smooth each others rough edges.

  59. It’s hard when your personality are different. It’s funny how I am still learning at the age that I am. It’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks. I have to think about their feelings before my own. I usually lash out because of hurt and want them to feel the pain that at that time i am feeling, but I cant do that. God is still working on me. I tend to fall at times and I will ask for forgiveness and pray about the situation. Being patient, kind and loving is a process that I am still working on each and everyday. If I continue to pray and let go and stop trying to hold on to controlling the situation, I will be a better person.

  60. Wow great devotion….this is perfect timing, I’ve been praying for some encouragement with my marriage of 25 yrs. in Sept. 2016, God’s timing is always right on time. Also I love the “10 ways to love your sandpaper spouse”, creative idea’s!
    God Bless, Karen

  61. Oh Karen, what a great post! My husband of 32 1/2 years and I are a sandpaper couple too! As a matter of fact, as part of a class my husband was taking he had to take a personality test and they asked the spouses to take them too. Ours were as opposite as they could get and when the professor handed the results back, he expressed his concern for us and how much we must argue. Thankfully, that isn’t true. We have learned how to use our differences in tandem like a bicycle built for two to reach decisions. Sometimes I pedal harder or slam on the brakes and sometimes he does but God gets us where we need to be. I enjoyed your wisdom you shared here today!

  62. I love to learn in anyway I can, thank you all at this ministry!!

  63. Thanks for today’s devotional. My husband and I are total opposites, been happily married for 14 years and are still getting to know each other and our nuances. Will share this devotional with him!

  64. Thanks for sharing.Had to think about the movie WARROOM, just watched it recently.A must see movie for all married couples. If we have to see changes in our marriages we have to begin with being on our knees!

  65. You need to go and do the Love and Respect seminar – google it. It was so life changing. All biblical and unbelievably enlightening. I thought I also was in a sandpaper relationship unique to me – now I know that men and women process things differently and every heterosexual relationship on the planet deals with issues just like the ones you just outlined.

    • Sarah-
      Actually Dr. Emerson Eggerich (Love and Respect) is my former pastor and a good friend of mine. My husband and I went to his conferences back when he was just starting them and hadn’t even written his book. You are right. They are wonderful!

  66. Oh, thank you so much dear sister in Jesus for what you have shared today! I surely have a sandpaper spouse (I know that I am too for my husband dearie). Your thought on being on our knees is so true! Many a times, I know that I just need to pray more for me to be willing to see through Jesus’ eyes and love with His love so I can continue loving my husband and be submissive to him. We are so opposite in a lot of ways (almost like you and your husband; but I am more like your husband and my husband like you :-)). God is so wise in matching us with our mates!

  67. So true – I have been married for 35 years. Iron shapes iron – it is a blessing. Thank you for confirming the blessing.

  68. Thanks. This is exactly what I needed today. Lord help me to give it all to you! Help me to respond according to your will and ways.

  69. Sally Ann Price says:

    This is a great story. I needed to hear this. Amen.

  70. Thank you for this devotional! God’s timing as always is perfect! I went as far as downloading 10 ways to love your sandpaper spouse. This practical tool will help me as I seek to intentionally show love and establish a practice of loving unconditionally. May you be richly blessed!

  71. Loved your article on sandpaper spouses. I have lived in our marriage with a sandpaper spouse (both of us) for 61 years. We still rub each other the wrong way but we have learned to “get over it” and forgive and forget. After the first six months of our marriage I came home from work one day and wondered what would hurt my family worse, suicide or divorce. They loved my husband like a true son and I knew both were wrong in their eyes so I knew I loved my husband and decided to live it out as best I could. After having our first daughter (we had three of them) I knew I could never separate them from their daddy. I still love him and he still can make my knees weak. We now have 3 married daughters, 5 married grandchildren 1 single, and 7 great grandchildren, a wonderful family of 28.

  72. Thanks so much Karen for your post, it really blessed me! Me and my husband sound like mirrors of you and your husband. In fact there’re times I’ve come to put the same labels on myself (and him). I think God really loves putting different people together in marriage, He obviously sees something beautiful in that (that we don’t at first, and maybe not for a long time), and I also think He has a great sense of humour *wink*. We’ve read so many marriage materials like the 5 love languages and Love and Respect, and not to take away anything from these great teachings because they do help especially in understanding each other better, but at the end of the day we are still imperfect us and we are still sandpapering each other away! To be honest for me and my darling husband the one thing (or rather person) that’s kept us together is Jesus, Him in all His grace. I wrote a post on my blog recently on this, do have a read if you like, hope it will bless others too:
    To God be the glory!

  73. My husband has been a true blessing to me in listening to preaching and the sermon was exactly what I needed to hear! It’s amazing how God works through our spouses!

  74. When I saw the title “Sandpaper Spouses”, I thought me and my husband without a doubt. Almost every day I get on his nerves and he gets on mine. You’d think we haven’t been married very long…but it’s been 41 years! The sad part is we haven’t always been this way and not sure why we rub each other wrong after all these years…but I do have a few clues. Prayer is my constant.
    Thanks for this!

  75. Thank you for this devotional, it was EXACTLY what I needed to read today. I’m not yet married but have been wrestling with this question in my relationship with my boyfriend. He is the most incredible man and we one day hope to be married, but we are certainly sandpaper spouses in the way that you describe above. I am exactly as you describe yourself to be and he is just as your husband is. This is reassuring because I was praying about whether we should be together and then bam – I came across your devotional! I will continue to trust the Lord with my relationship and I’m grateful for the hope that your devotional gives me.

  76. I read this and feel torn. This story doesn’t describe my first years of marriage but maybe the last 8. Sometimes when I hear these stories I wonder what it really looks like for other couples. I used to almost feel relieved hearing that other couples struggled. Maybe it’s not as bad as I feel. In my marriage when I had a difference of opinion I would be told that I’m not a good enough wife, he’s the leader of our family and knows best. He thought I was a weak Christian. I would be lectured or criticized until I agreed with him. He’d say ‘now that’s not so bad now is it? See you do love me.’ Neither my children nor I had voices. I would try not to say much but sometimes couldn’t help it. He told me if I learned how to do that we would be fine. Sometimes he could be really nice though. My story goes on and on. He refused to go to counseling, said it was worldly. I couldn’t take it anymore and my children suffered. I left. Now he says he’ll go to counseling. I told him to go on his own first. He refused and says I’m not willing to work on our marriage. Still torn if I made the right choice. That maybe he was right. But it’s done.

    • Kelly, my heart goes out to you. For so many years I resisted what I thought was the definition of the Godly wife. I wrote what I am hoping to be a blog post someday but perhaps here, in response to your very real struggle, it might be better. I grew up in a Christian home and feel many scriptures are misunderstood by well-meaning men and women whose self-respect is at best shaky and perhaps non-existent. The more I tried and failed to be a Godly wife, the more I became a shell of who I was before marriage. It sounds like you are doing a lot thinking. Feel free to reach out to me if you need a sounding board. You can find me on Facebook or Linked In.
      When my husband and I were dating, the words we used to describe each other were complimentary. He was the STABLE one and I was the SPONTANEOUS one. After a few short years of marriage however, our descriptions changed. He was BORING and I was EMOTIONAL.

      We have been married for 18 years now and we’re able to see the humor in our changing perspectives of each other. More importantly, I have grown to appreciate and rely on our strengths equally and have discovered that our drastically opposite personalities really can work in tandem. It’s not one or the other, but both.

      But I have to be honest. Getting to this point has been an extremely difficult journey for me. My biggest hurdle is accepting him exactly the way he is. I call it accepting, but words like honoring or respecting fit just as well. Believe it or not, all of these words create an intense tug of war inside me. Even while writing this, emotions I struggle with come bubbling up to the surface and I feel an overwhelming urge to scream, cry or crawl back into bed. If you’re anything like me you understand. In fact, you may have zero motivation to keep reading because every time you attempt to align your emotions with the action, it never feels quite right. Something always seems out of sync. Yep, I get it! Please keep reading though, because what you will discover is amazingly simple and practical. But it is powerful.

      For the majority of my marriage, I thought accepting my husband, flaws and all, meant that I needed to abandon my own personality and defer to his. Ignore my own likes and dislikes and put his above my own. I thought it meant admitting he was right and I was wrong. If I accepted him, I agreed with him. He would be validated implying he had nothing to fix. I was being diligent to deal with my contribution to marital discord and felt he wasn’t so if the marriage was to improve, it fell on me to do and say all the right things. It was so one-sided and exhausting.

      You might think I have the worst husband in the world. On the contrary, he is a great guy. Really! Here’s the deal. My emotions are intense. I feel things very deeply. I express myself animatedly. I’ve come to terms with my personality but for so long I hated myself. To accept him, the only thing I knew to do was discredit how I felt. Inevitably my emotions would surface gasping for the right to be heard and I would beat them into submission. I subconsciously rehearsed and perfected this routine for most of our marriage until like the frog in the kettle, my subtle demise came in the form of dwindling self-respect and growing resentment.

      Women everywhere have their own ideas about what acceptance means or what it looks like. Get really personal and we could say submission. Uh-oh! I’ve said the “S” word. Deal’s off! I can hear battle cries from women who wear the pants in the family and sighs from women with good intentions but failed attempts. I sense sheer panic. I know ‘cuz I feel it deep in my own chest right now. You’re safe! We’ll leave that word for another post. As it is, talking about acceptance has made me long for the safety of my bed. Continue with the “S” word and I may need a padded room!

      So what DOES acceptance look like? It’s one thing to have the attitude but when I am frustrated beyond sensibility I need action. Action that makes me feel valued. Action that intercepts the message my frustration sends to my husband that I don’t accept him. That nothing he does is right. Okay, stop right there! It’s in these marital misfires that my internal dialogue goes on overload! It sounds something like this: “How is it that he considers my frustration as a personal attack on him? Attacking him is the furthest thing from my mind! I’m too busy figuring out how I feel, why I feel that way and if I’m right to feel that way!” A deep breathe and a new perspective is helpful right about now.

      Recently, my best friend, who is a bank manager, told me as part of her customer service training, she teaches her employees to give verbal receipts when handling misunderstandings or conflicts. Just as a paper receipt is given to a customer to show proof of their monetary transaction, a verbal receipt is given to show proof of a verbal transaction, be it an opinion, complaint, etc. When a bank teller gives a receipt, it’s simply an acknowledgement of a transaction not a statement of the teller’s opinion. As well, the teller forms no emotional connection to the deposit or withdrawal; it isn’t made for the teller’s benefit.

      If like me, you are having a difficult time accepting your husband as he is, it might be helpful to think of acceptance as a receipt that acknowledges him and his deposits; such as his feelings, his likes, his dislikes, his personality, quirks and flaws. Sure, his currency may be foreign, but like it or not it’s the only currency he has. Cohabiting means that I can’t put a sign up at my teller window that reads, “no foreign currency allowed.” And here’s the clincher. Your receipt is not a statement of opinion or worth. Whoa! Now wait a minute. How’s that gonna work, then? Our husbands will never know that something needs to change unless we tell them! Without sharing my opinion this receipt thing is doomed!

      Not so! Not only does giving a receipt void of opinion work, it is actually freeing. Look at it this way. Everyone must own their own feelings, thoughts, actions etc. right? Because it’s simply an acknowledgement of what is, a receipt remains neutral but shows ownership at the same time. Sort of like an itemized receipt from a grocery store. It lists purchases without drawing conclusions about them or justifying them. A verbal receipt is the same. It doesn’t prove who is right or wrong, it doesn’t challenge anyone’s feelings, likes, dislikes, personality, quirks or flaws. It’s simply proof that those feelings exist and who owns them. There’s no disagreeing or agreeing, no one is right or wrong. Liberating! Especially because it goes both ways. Accepting him means I am free to have my own emotions and perspective, apart from his, without being made to feel guilty. My husband and I can both feel validated and empowered. Not one or the other, but both.

      A verbal receipt is a powerful gesture of acceptance and makes me hopeful. Because this, I can do! I can preserve myself AND accept my husband. It’s not one or the other, It’s both. I feel alive, whole and free now! Don’t you?

  77. Thank you for the devotional today. I too feel like me and my husband are complete opposites. All marriages are different. I appreciate knowing that we don’t have to fake it. A lot of times as Christians we feel like everything has to be harmonious. But the reality is that life is constantly messing things up. I am reminded by your website that imperfections are inevitable but the way in which I handle them makes me a Christian. I am not perfect, neither is my husband but we are both trying to be Christians and that is all we can do. Thank you again for the candid article, o appreciate honesty.

  78. Not only do we share the same name, but because we could not get the debate on TV, computer or the radio, my husband was sitting in our family room as I clicked on your devotion. And, as I read just a few moments into it, he said, “Did you write this?!”
    After 26 years together, six kids, tons of animals, tears and prayers, we know we are Sandpaper Spouses! And, we also are learning that marriage is to make one holy not necessarily happy…Oh, how much I have had to grow up and learn. Still.
    Thank you for your honesty, humility and humor!

  79. In the middle of a rough episode in my marriage and this article has blessed me so! It’s been in my inbox for a few days and somehow it caught my eye this morning and I opened it and read it. The steps of the righteous are indeed ordered by the Lord! I guess God waned to use it to talk to me. Thank you for being a channel. God bless you.

  80. this was just perfect! I’ve been married 16 years and it’s a constant struggle. Just when I think we’ve got it figured out, oops, something else. I pray and pray and God is working in my marriage, but I know I have my part to do and devotions like yours keep me in line and motivated not to give up!

  81. Thank you for your devotion! I felt like you were describing my husband and I, we are very similar to you and your husband. And 13 years into marriage, while we still have our moments, we have learned to get on much better and I would have to say we love each other more now than when we got married ☺

  82. Sooo right on!! Thank you

  83. Soooooo, that’s what we are!!! Was wondering what the issue has been for 28 years!! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! for this REVEALING, INSPIRING and ENCOURAGING word!! What a wonderful NEW perspective I have! Sandpaper has great qualities and uses. Our marriage is GREAT too! And yes, I am going to try ALL ten of your suggestions for loving my sandpaper husband-man!! 😉

  84. Charity says:

    Amazing. Am renewed energized. Thank you mighty woman.

  85. I needed this today! Not only are there sand paper spouses (I have one too but at least after 25 years I can say it gets so much better as you learn to trust God, communicate, and enjoy each other’s differences), there are a lot of other sand paper people in our lives too. I needed this reminder as I face a difficult conversation today – thank you for giving me a fresh perspective.

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