Don’t Give Up On Irreconcilable Differences

 After fourteen years of marriage, I’ve come to the conclusion that I cannot change Edric to become like me (you’d think I would’ve figured this out sooner!). It really just hit me recently, that this endless attempt to make him completely understand my personality is a futile preoccupation. First, he is a man and that already makes him Martian to my Venus-ity. Second, the family context and culture in which we were raised was unlike each other’s. Third, I actually appreciate Edric the way he is even if sometimes, the way he isn’t like me can be infuriating. Fourth, the point of marriage is not to become like one another but to become more like Christ and to exalt Him and not us. This aim takes our differences and unifies them under a common purpose and goal.

 Nevertheless, the struggle remains…how to get along and remain faithful to that commitment to love one another. Let me illustrate this…

The other morning I prepared what I thought was a pretty amazing breakfast for Edric — a bowl of oatmeal, a plate of cheese, prunes, and walnuts, toast with honey and butter, scrambled eggs, sliced oranges, and malunggay tea. I giddily arranged everything, expecting him to be amazed and delighted at how beautifully plated his food was. I waited for him to say, “Wow! Thanks hon!” Instead, he sat himself in front of his breakfast and asked rather tersely, “What’s this in my oatmeal? Did you put evaporated milk?”

I took this reaction as a complaint instead of a mere question so I retaliated with a comment that went something like this, “That’s all you have to say after I made all of that?”

Edric didn’t appreciate my interpretation of the situation, especially because I muttered it in front of the kids. I should have been more prudent and more respectful. But I thought his question expressed ungratefulness. Annoyed with me, he corrected my attitude and judgmental spirit on the spot (also in front of kids). “The problem is you had expectations and so you thought my question was negative. I just wanted to know if you put evaporated milk in my oatmeal.”

It was unusual for him to correct me with the kids present because we tend to take up our issues with one another in private. With the kids spectating, I felt just cause to add, “Are you going to do this with the kids here?” Well, he corrected me even more! So I stopped, afraid that our interchange wouldn’t benefit the kids. I didn’t want to put our conflict on display. Plus, Edric was getting more and more frustrated with me for challenging him. I apologized to our kids, but inside I was a volcanic mess.

When we were finally alone, Edric and I got to talk. He called out my tendency to hyperbolize any sort of negativity from him — whether it be a comment, an expression, or his tone of voice — if it looks or sounds like the opposite of positive, my defenses kick in and I retaliate. Admittedly, I am overly sensitive when it comes to Edric’s opinions and assessments of my duties and responsibilities as a wife. When he communicates his displeasure, I feel deeply discouraged. My problem is I am allergic to even the most subtle portrayals of irritation from him. Instead of looking past his method to the intent of the correction, for my good, I fight back. Sigh.

I attempted to explain that this response is due to my upbringing, because my home was a positive, cheery environment. Think sunshine and sparkles. People appreciated one another and applied grace towards imperfections. Initially, Edric took this to mean that I was making a comparison to our present family culture. But I assured him that my past merely provided a reference for how we ought to relate to one another. I praise God that after several turbulent exchanges where our emotions began to escalate, we were able to sort through the hurtful comments properly. Edric led us to good conclusions.

  1. I need to be more humble when correction comes my way (no matter how it is delivered).
  1. Edric will make a conscious effort to apply gentleness of tone when he corrects me.

He also called our children into the kitchen and sat them around us. “Kids, will you forgive me for the way I talked to your mom? I was trying to correct her but I should have said it in a sweeter way.”

“You weren’t so nice,” Edan observed. (I wanted to clap but I didn’t!)

“Yes, you are right and I want you all to know that I shouldn’t talk to your mom that way. And you shouldn’t either. If you see something that she needs to change, you need to say it in a polite way.”

Edric explained to them that they had to respect me and speak to me in a manner that honored my position as their mother. The kids understood and returned to their play. I really appreciated this. Edric didn’t have to emphasize his own error but he did, and very humbly, too. This restored our family to authentic oneness.

We have been at this point many times as husband and wife. Our disagreements often feel like marital dejavú! We still wrestle with similar issues that irked us about each other at the beginning. They can even be called irreconcilable personality differences.

Thankfully, God has protected our marriage from some of the major problems that many relationships have to work through, such as infidelity, addictions, abuse, etc. I am not saying that it isn’t vulnerable to the same things. Yet by God’s grace, our conflicts revolve around personality differences rather than conviction-based ones.

Even so, if we weren’t committed to resolving our conflicts, small issues would most definitely distance us. They would pile up and make it easier for greater hurts to infect our marriage. For example, if Edric and I didn’t address our differences constructively, we might resort to quiet tolerance. Neither of us would be able to express genuine feelings. Untouchable subjects would naturally cause our communication to suffer. And then we might be less inclined to connect sexually because we don’t feel that spiritual or emotional oneness that ought to precede healthy intimacy. As we continue to drift apart, having made this manner of relating to one another a habit, we would seek out people or activities to satisfy unmet longings. This vulnerable state would put us in a position to make choices that could really harm or destroy our marriage.

The point is that Edric and I must continue to pursue oneness in Christ, accepting that there are aspects we cannot change about one another. That’s what commitment is…applying God’s grace and forgiveness when those differences sting, and going back to the ONE who holds us together. We both want to honor and obey Him. We want to glorify Him in our marriage. We want to live out His principles and not insist on the personal preferences that polarize us.

Is it hard? Is it challenging? Is it maddening at times? Yes, yes, yes. Yet after each conflict that is resolved we find ourselves saying that we love one another still. The even more amazing thing is, when we work through our issues by pursuing oneness in Christ, we discover that love can be better, bigger, and deeper than the love we knew in the year that passed.

My encouragement to young married couples is don’t let your irreconcilable personality differences pull you apart so you become two separate people over the years. Let those differences draw you closer to the Lord. The best parts of being married are yet to come. Don’t bail out emotionally and spiritually when conflict arises.

About two weeks ago I was visiting with my dad in his study room, where I have enjoyed many one-on-one conversations with him about life. He told me something that changed the way I think about the differences Edric and I have. He said, “Differences don’t really go away. Take for instance your mom and me. The same things that bothered us about each other at the beginning continue to be there. But we have learned to grow in grace.” 

He said it so beautifully I wanted to cry. Okay, I’m crying a little bit now. The truth is no marriage can survive without God’s grace and every marriage blooms with it. So if you are feeling discouraged today, receive God’s grace in your life and choose to give it to your spouse!

Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love. (‭Ephesians‬ ‭6‬:‭24‬ NASB)


79 thoughts on “Don’t Give Up On Irreconcilable Differences

  1. “But we learned to grow in grace.”-this struck me most. I think i can also apply this inmy relationship with my siblings.

  2. Joy, I wonder what words you kept to yourself over dinner the other night. I know the answer is to forgive continually, and to not give up. I guess this is a different season for me, but I am not negating the fact that God is God over my situation – omnipotent over hopelessness. 😉

    Thank you for reminding me that God’s grace is more than enough.

  3. It really feels good to hear other couples going through similar experiences. I wish my wife can read this page so we can both realize that our “irreconcilable differences” are not unique to us. Thank you for inspiring me to have more patience.

    P.S. Pls say hello to classmate Edric for me.

  4. Wow! Perfect timing! Me and my husband should continuously grow together in God’s grace. Thank you so much, Ms. Joy for sharing! May Jesus’ Shalom (wellness, completeness, peace, favor, and success) be with you, and your family as well!

  5. Thank you for sharing this. I always admire relationships that has a God’s grace foundation ❤️ I strongly believe in courtship too. I pray that one day I willl be this strong in faith when I am married to my future husband

  6. Love d fact how small stuff can actually lead into something big that could really change ur perception of ur spouse, how it evolves into a very good problem to analyze and becomes a penacle of acceptance and love is somehow amazing.

    1. So true…so often the small things that become bigger issues. So it’s best to tackle issues early and deal with them in the right way so love can grow!

  7. hi Ms. Joy, I too, have the same tendency with my husband. I get easily depressed when he expresses displeasure over anything I do or say. I tend to take this against my person. But I am always reminded of what he told me when we were still dating…”We are a team. You and I. I always have your back and I know you got mine.” It took years of being together before I finally realize this. Thank you for continuously blessing us with your experiences and reflections.

    1. Maybe you are a words person like me! Words matter a lot. So when it’s negative I get easily hurt. But what a sweet thing for your husband to say! It’s a good reminder for you:)

  8. Hi! Ms. Joy….first of all thanks for your blog, as this inspire couples,mothers,women or every individual like me. May I request your approval if I could copy this one to print and give it to my siblings and friends who are now suffering marriage problems. I’ve been reading your blog since last year thru my friend who is also at CCF. Thanks and May God Bless you more!

  9. This article couldn’t have come in a better time, thank you Joy! This is God’s grace definitely! 🙂

  10. with all the things that inflict in my own married life– such a perfect timing to have read this.
    a blessing indeed!
    please allow me to share this.
    May God perpetually protect your family.

  11. “My encouragement to young married couples is don’t let your irreconcilable personality differences pull you apart so you become two separate people over the years. Let those differences draw you closer to the Lord. The best parts of being married are yet to come. Don’t bail out emotionally and spiritually when conflict arises.”

    -This is just so timely. been struggling a lot in our marriage and coping up with my role as a mom of two.. Sometimes it makes me wonder, how were you able to make it since you’ve got five kids. Handling kids is as tough (especially when you don’t have helpers and you’re totally on your own) as dealing with “irreconcilable differences” between you and your husband. Your testimony is indeed a blessing!

  12. Thank you for this ms. Joy… me and my husband was experiencing difficulties due to our different personality. A great read for young couples like us…

  13. hi! 🙂 thanks for your honest sharings. just want to ask, do you do marriage counseling? Or can you recommend a good one? 🙂

  14. Dear Joy,

    I love reading your posts. I love how sincere, simple, and humble your posts are. Thank you! Keep writing!


  15. Thank you ms. Joy for sharing your experiences, it only shows that God is working in your relationship.
    I attended before and after i do last april, you and your husband are one of the speakers. I was blessed and God speak to me. Thank you Godbless

  16. Hi Joy! You know what, as a wife, I can identify with you so much! Sometimes it feels like I’m the one writing your blog (only expressed way more beautifully hehe). You inspire me to become a godly wife and a better homeschooling mom! We are so blessed to be able to listen to your dad’s inspiring messages every Sunday as well and be part of the CCF family. Thank you! God bless you and the whole family! To God be all the glory!

  17. I am not yet married but this set my expectations beautifully. Thank you, from all the singles who read your post! 🙂

  18. Hello Joy,

    I was just browsing through to ease my mind (for the very same reason!) and was fortunate to have come across your story. I find your story very simple yet motivating.

    Thanks a bunch!

  19. Quiet tolerance. Untouchable subjects.
    Those differences sting.

    Those are the words that hit me. They are so true and I often find myself in the same situation.

    I’m so glad I stumbled upon this post. It’s truly enlightening. Thank you.

  20. Thank you for sharing. Irreconcilable differences truly are irreconcilable. But thank you for sharing how to not give up on it. It’s a daily battle I think we all face with our partners.

  21. It was just yesterday when my mind got overloaded with lots of thinking on how to resolve differences between me and my partner. I was on the edge of giving up. But then I asked myself, ‘after all that we’ve been through, ngayon pa ba ako susuko?’. I cried endlessly. I felt like I am not worth it. Until I stumbled upon this post. This reminds me of the saying ‘just because somebody doesn’t love you the way you want them to doesn’t mean they don’t love you at all’. Thank you for sharing this wonderful piece. Something to remind myself. God bless.

  22. Just what I needed to hear (read) when I feel that me and my husband are always arguing. Apparently, I am just overreacting to his reactions or behavior when he is just simply stating the facts. Never give up on irrenconcilable differences but more important is never give up on communicating.

  23. This article is one of God’s way to show grace. My husband and I have been struggling about this issue. We’re both crying after reading your message. Thank you Joy. Thank you Jesus.

  24. i thought i’ve been goin crazy screaming at the top of my lungs, thinking im the only person going through this pace…until you put the words out!! thank you, i feel i can make my marriage turn to a not-so-perfect but a lasting graceful one.. making each day count.. after all our vow is to unite us one but not necessary be like one another.. embrace the difference and keep our faith

  25. i thought i’ve been goin crazy screaming at the top of my lungs, thinking im the only person going through this phase…until you put the words out!! thank you, i feel i can make my marriage turn to a not-so-perfect but a lasting graceful one.. making each day count.. after all our vow is to unite us one but not necessary be like one another.. embrace the difference and keep our faith

  26. Your story is what have been happening to us most of the time..I am teary-eyed reading it and say “yes,yes..this is so true..”..blessings on you both 🙂

  27. Thank you for sharing, it inspires me a lot being with the same phase in our marriage. May God continue to bless your family.

  28. Thanks for sharing this! This truly helps in having a great relationship with the husband and wife. Through God’s grace, any irreconcilable differences can be reconciled. God bless!

  29. “I need to be more humble when correction comes my way (no matter how it is delivered).” – this just got me hard. i think this is the answer to my question. just in time! thank you for this article, made me realize something. You might be the instrument that God sent me today. Thank you Joy! 🙂

  30. I can relate to the situation that you are in. I always have expectations. I usually think that he will appreciate the things im doing for him. But there are times that I am not getting the reaction or appreciation I was expecting. I want him to love me the way I want to be loved. But I am not usually getting it. That’s the time i get frustrated and disappointed about our relationship. sometimes i think im not appreciated and loved at all.
    After reading your article, I was enlightened about irreconcilable personality differences. That explains everything. Thank you for sharing this.

  31. Hi,

    Thank you for sharing this. This helps me wake up from the ideals. I usually have expectations, on how he will do things, on how he will appreciate my efforts and such. Expectations that he can give what I can give, but then I realized , we are different.

    Thank you

  32. I love your blog. it open my minds on how I go with my failed relationship. This is a good site.
    I’m gonna start to follow you.

  33. Very timely!:’) Im teary while reading this. Thanks for the words, so basically im not the only one whos experiencing this.

  34. God really works amazingly. He speaks to us through others. My husband an I are on the same pace, we are just a newly wed couple over a year and been in exact situation most of the time. Thank you for God reminded me through you.

  35. Is this coincidence or what? 🙂

    This is what I am going thru today. Thank you for the enlightenment and for sharing your story.


  36. God is good,this is my struggle the whole day.and thought that the best solutionis to part ways.Thank you Lord for speaking to me in away that i will what really life is,that life is not perfecbut LOVE of God is

  37. Once you are married,honeymoon stage is over, what replaces it is commitment, the love that you tend to to share with your wife goes to your child,but what if you dont have kids. This is reality. A reality which i wanna seek answers. Do you think those irreconcilable differences can be worked out still?. I am struggling as of the moment. And I can not find answers to this. I wanna take it spiritually, but reality is really slapping me. no kids. and even no love making. Appreciate your comments.

  38. I read your post out loud to my husband. We both thought that we are lucky to realize that we have “irreconcilable personal differences” early on. (5 years married). Your article validates most of what we experience. It’s really a good read.

  39. this is very timely.. my husband and i just had a fight last night and i was more than convinced to ask him to leave our home, but before i went to sleep i prayed for God’s guidance to enlighten me and clear up my mind and my heart from the anger that i felt towards my other half. I woke up still convinced to do what i wanted to do last night then i started browsing and stumble on your article. These has enlightened me., Thank you so much . You are God’s tool to let me know the importance of marriage, i live and grow up in a country where divorce is always the easiest option. But thru this article it made me realize iits not even an option, I love my husband although we have our differences. Thank you God bless! and all the best for you and your family.

  40. First of all, I am glad that marriages still thrive.
    God be praised in your marriage.
    I love reading articles like these but it just saddens my heart when I can’t apply it to my own situation.
    My husband chose his mistress over me and our family. I’ve heard all suggestions, prayed so many prayers, hoped, changed my ways, took a lot of effort, and etc. I set him free last year because I can’t take it anymore that we’re always fighting and obviously it was because he did not give up on his infidelity. Of course this is not the right place to share the details. I just want to know, what encouragement can you give to women like me who prayed, tried, prayed again but to no avail? One more thing that I really want to know. Is it still my role to pray for my husband even though in his heart I don’t have any place anymore? Somebody told me, speak blessings to him because he is the father of your children. But I thought, if I do that, and God will bless him, the blessings will go to his mistress and not to us. Pardon me for being a bit childish on that part. But yes, what can you and other readers have to say about wives like me? Thank you so much.

    1. I am so sorry to hear your story. May God bless you with peace and wisdom as you go through with this difficult time. I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been. My prayers for you and your family.

    2. Hi Joy, I have been an avid follower of your posts. I want to thank you for sharing your experiences and knowledge. I feel closer to God because of what I learn from you. It also helps me to have better relationship. You are right, things can be hard, challenging, and maddening but at the end of the day, love will always be there, just need to see it different way and communicate differences. Thank you!!
      Also, I was wondering if you’d consider guests posts from your Father or Edric discussing relationships and/or parenthood? I think it will help your women readers and be enlightened a bit about men’s thoughts?
      Again, thank you for your posts! Please continue to share.

    3. Thank you, MIss Joy for this article… This will surely inspire a lot of people to continually pray for themselves, their spouse and their marriage. May God continue to bless you more… Truly small things can develop a great wall between spouses or any realtionships…
      Hi still.learning,
      This might not be the right place to share this but I just want to encourage you to continue to pray for your husband because this will Honor God and He is the Great Rewarder,,,
      I have been separated for 8 years now,,,got all the earthly reasons to hate him… but I still continue to pray for him because God have instilled in my heart His promises:

      Romans 8:28
      28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

      Galatians 6:8-9 NIV
      8 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
      9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

      Romans 15:13
      13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

      **You can also read on Romans 8 **
      Though being together again with him is not my main goal (but can be a bonus from God) — I have been praying for my husband and his mistress to have an intimate relationship with God, for I believe that by God’s grace all things will be right and wounds will be healed…
      Praying for my husband also made my relationship with my son so amazing that made my son closer to God and able to forgive his dad too…
      Godbless us all…

    4. Hi still.learning,
      Praying for other people will bring you closer to God and I believe that God will bless you more if you continue to pray for your husband…

      Bible Verses About Hate
      — from

      Hatred is a feeling that can be both Godly and sinful depending on what it is that is causing us to hate. The Bible speaks of loving God and hating evil (Psalm 97:10) and hating the assembly of evildoers (Psalm 26:5) and hating falsehood (Psalm 119:116). The more we become like Christ and understand the love of God, the more we will being to hate hypocrisy, godlessness, and evil of the world. However, we are also warned over and over in the Bible of how hatred and bitterness can destroy us. God tells us in Scripture that hate is a heart issue and that someone who hates a brother is a murderer! (1 John 3:15) We are encouraged to love one another, keep short records of wrongs, and forgive others, not harboring bitterness or anger in our hearts. This collection of Bible verses about hate will help you gain wisdom on how to handle hate with God’s power through the Holy Spirit!

  41. Omg i can relate on your story! I just move out with him 5months ago and our first month together was disaster and so stressful but we’re still together until now coz i shut my mouth and do deep breathing exercises to relieve my stress and above all i lift it all to God asking to freshen my husband mind and soul and it works!

  42. Hello Joy!

    It’s good to know that I am not the only wife who feels that way; and we’re not the only married couple who experience this. I guess it’s just really a phase where we really can grow together with our chosen partner in life.

    I really loved everything you’ve shared here.

    – GherJPalambiano

  43. The compatibility/equality between the partners is of great importance to maintain the marriage. It is obvious that a pious woman and a frivolous man will not be in harmony because it is very difficult for two people of different worlds to live in harmony. Similarly, the marriage of a pious man with an irreligious woman who do not act in accordance with religious rules will bring about a lot of problems and will not last long.

  44. Hi Joy, praise God for blessing you for you are a blessing to many. I am not married yet but I experience the same thing (with my boyfriend). I was supposed to wait for a newsletter but something inside urged me to go to your blog and read this. Coincidence is God’s way of being anonymous haha! I am truly humbled by your story. I realized I shouldn’t be overly sensitive when it comes to his comments. Well I have been trying to defeat sensitivity 5 years ago and I believe I’m making progess. 🙂 Praise God! Anyway, I just feel grateful to you for sharing your learning experience. Keep writing, we are waiting for more lessons from you. May God bless you and your family more!

  45. Wow! I can so relate. It was like reading about me and my hubby. We were bf/gf for 12 yrs (started the relationship when we were 15) and married for 11 yrs. Pero may struggle talaga lalo na pag magkaiba ng upbringing. I tried to be not so sensitive and sya naman careful na.

  46. Hi! I just want to say that I find it a huge blessing having come across your blog. I’ve just began to read through some your writings on parenting and marriage, and I am so encouraged and inspired with how you live your life for God’s purpose in every role, in every season. There’s just so much wisdom in every entry. Praying for an even greater platform for you to influence more and more in these different areas, opening a lot more eyes to see how God has amazingly created and designed us for a purpose in every season. Blessings to you and your beautiful family!

    1. Thank you April! Praise God and glad that you are writing too!!! Let’s keep using our passion for Him!

  47. Thank you for sharing. You have reached out hearts that hurt and souls that continue to ask the question why. Marriage is such a difficult journey but the blessings are also quite many. It is such a roller coaster ride. Sometimes I wish it were quieter but then God always knows our hearts better than we do. God bless you and your family. May He always grant us the grace to grow in our marriages gracefully.

  48. Thank you for sharing. You have reached out to hearts that hurt and souls that continue to ask the question why. Marriage is such a difficult journey but the blessings are also quite many. It is such a roller coaster ride. Sometimes I wish it were quieter but then God always knows our hearts better than we do. God bless you and your family. May He always grant us the grace to grow in our marriages gracefully.

  49. Thanks for sharing this. I’m not married yet but reading this really helps me to see the reality in marriages and set my understanding on marriages in right perspective.

  50. I hear my own voice in your post Joy! Thanks for sharing. You are such a blessing as its so tempting to quit sometimes when resentments pile up but messages like yours inspire and give hope to make things better for one more day…growing together in grace. May you continue to be blessed and bless others. Looking forward to your posts! 🙂

  51. Such an inspiring thoughts! I’ve learn a lot about my husband, about our marriage and about myself.. Hmmmm… So I’m a words person. Now I’m gonna learn how to deal with myself as such kind of person.. Indeed we are all growing in God’s grace..

  52. DELAYED REACTION HERE….Just got access to your website Joy….

    Every day is an opportunity to get better in the roles that we portray. Been married for twenty-five (25) years now, and being a wife and a mother will always present the best opportunities to be better and Christ-like, only because we are in these roles 24/7. I cannot agree more with how your dad said it. The difference will always be there, and we will never perfect how we reconcile these differences, but we can grow and learn on how we deal with these in any of these three (3) phases of ‘living the nature of being humans’ (if I may call it): Pre-happening; While its happening; And the aftermath.
    As we learn about ourselves and our husbands, there are special messages or alerts that God allows us to recognize, so we can prevent a conflict from happening; Or have the conviction to stop or catch ourselves while it’s happening; Or recognize that you have done your husband/children wrong, and do something about this recognition (apologize and explain what just happened and why, and why these reasons don’t justify the uncalled for acts or reaction that we just displayed).
    I think God has put in each of us the Holy Spirit to guide us through these phases, and catching it and heeding to it will just really depend on whether we submit to this guidance and humbly act in a Christ-like manner, or continue being stubborn and give in to the ‘unChrist-like’ way of reacting even if inside us the Holy Spirit is already correcting us.
    I know it’s easier said than done, but even the recognition and the ‘taking of action’ in any of these three phases will be a learning in progress. What is important is we acknowledge where we are weak, and lifting to God this weakness, so we get to be better ‘reactors’ in time.

  53. Wow, must be nice to have a relationship where such small things are your “difficulties”. Very nice to know there are such great marriages out there. I wish mine was one of them, but it is very heartwarming to see this type of thing when I despair that all marriages are secretly horrible.

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