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Rising Above Our Differences

Early in marriage it's important to look for something beautiful rather than focusing negatively on differences.
By Barbara Rainey

According to legend, a Chinese emperor once said to his wife, "I notice that our mulberry trees are being damaged. I'd like you to find out what's wrong."

The empress discovered that a small, drab-colored moth was laying eggs on the leaves. The tiny eggs would hatch into little worms, which after a few days would spin cocoons and damage the leaves.

Wondering if she could destroy the little cocoons, she dropped one of them into a pot of boiling water. To her surprise, the cocoon began to slowly unwind into a silvery thread that proved to be a half-mile long!

Thus, through the process of solving a problem, the empress discovered something beautiful: silk.

Early in marriage, many of us feel like those damaged mulberry trees. The natural differences between husbands and wives—some caused by gender, some by background, some by personality—eat away at the joy of a marriage relationship.

The old adage that "opposites attract" was really true for Dennis and me when we married. We were very different in many ways. For instance, Dennis was impulsive. He'd get an idea and he'd be gone. On the other hand, I tend to be very disciplined; I like to think and evaluate before I act. Often, during our first year of marriage, I found myself left in Dennis' dust.

I remember praying diligently for God to change all the things in Dennis I didn't like. Then I realized what really needed to be changed was my attitude. I needed to ask God to not only make me content with Dennis as he was, but also show me the positive sides of our differences.

God did change my perspective, and in time I began to see how much I need my husband's spontaneity to balance my more rigid control.

Rather than focusing negatively on differences, look for something beautiful—the silk—that comes from solving the problem.

Adapted from The New Building Your Mate's Self-Esteem, © 1995 by Dennis and Barbara Rainey, Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Meet the Author: Barbara Rainey

Barbara Rainey is a wife, mother of six adult children (plus three sons-in-law and two daughters-in-law), and "Mimi" to nineteen grandchildren.

After graduating from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Barbara joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ in 1971. She and her husband, Dennis, whom she married in 1972, are co-founders of FamilyLife, a ministry of Cru that is headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Barbara has published articles on family-related topics and is the author of Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember and When Christmas Came.  She speaks at FamilyLife's Weekend to Remember® marriage conferences and is a frequent guest on FamilyLife Today®, a nationally syndicated, daily radio program.  She and Dennis are the coauthors of several books, including Growing a Spiritually Strong Family, Starting Your Marriage Right, Moments Together for Couples, The New Building Your Mate's Self-Esteem, Parenting Today's Adolescent, Rekindling the Romance, and Moments with You. She co-authored A Mother's Legacy with her daughter, Ashley Rainey Escue and joined Dennis and their children Rebecca and Samuel on the book So You're About To Be A Teenager. Barbara has also co-authored Barbara and Susan's Guide to the Empty Nest, with close friend Susan Yates, and A Symphony in the Dark, written with her daughter, Rebecca Rainey Mutz. And Barbara has written a series focusing on character traits for families, including the titles Growing Together in Gratitude, Growing Together in Courage, Growing Together in Forgiveness, and Growing Together in Truth.

Having faithfully served alongside Dennis for more than 30 years, both in ministry and at home, Barbara has recently launched a new endeavor called Ever Thine Home™.  This new line of products, including Christ centered ornaments for Christmas, teaching tools for Lent and Easter, and beautiful additions for your home for thanksgiving and year round makes it easy to express faith at home in a way that is both biblical and beautiful.  Her heart for Ever Thine Home is based on the familiar Old Testament instruction:

"And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." (Deuteronomy 6:9, ESV)

You can read more about Barbara's work at

Find Barbara online on:
Twitter @BarbaraRainey and Facebook



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