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Strong in the Broken: When Extroverts and Introverts Get Married

Today’s Strong in the Broken post is by Janneke Huisman, an essay about negotiating marriage and international living with one extrovert and one introvert.

16 years of marriage asks for a little bit of reflection. Here is something I read online:

“Some of the sweetest connections I have ever seen have been extreme innies and extreme outies. They’re perfect at parties together. The introvert can hide behind the extrovert. EX works the crowd just like she likes it and one by one brings her new friends over to the corner and introduces them to IN (just like he likes it). IN doesn’t compete for attention, and EX shields him from the crowds. IN becomes a sounding board for EX, and EX protects IN from disengaging completely. It works. Not automatically and not without intentionality, but it works, and sometimes it works brilliantly well.” Read the whole thing here.

This quote describes us so well. One of us is the 95% EX, and the other is the 95% IN. It’s up to you to guess who is who. That interesting mix of character is also a confluence of brokenness.

In these sixteen years, we moved through two continents and four countries. A lot of transition and stress came with it. Our kids changed school systems three times and switched languages along with it. All that has had some impact on our family and also our marriage. You might not see it on the outside. We do not fight in public and love each other, that is true. We have decided to stick together. We avoid using bad words and we keep searching for the other’s heart, but it is a lifelong search.

A couple of weeks ago, at a certain moment, we were a bit tense and sad. (At least we were in tune, although it was pretty much in a minor key.) At that very moment, Jelle found this article, and it came to us at the right time. The author compares a marriage with two rivers who confluence and find each other, although not without conflict and two different backgrounds.

“But what we almost never take into consideration is that the biggest thing my partner will contribute to our relationship is her brokenness. Just as the biggest thing I contribute to our life together is my brokenness. This can be masked, can be hidden, it can be denied, it can be compensated for. But eventually our true colors are up the pole, flapping in the wind.  What I choose to do with my wife’s brokenness, what she chooses to do with mine, this is the true test of our hearts; it’s the anvil on which our commitment will be either shaped or shattered.” Read the whole thing here.

The author, Bill Black, includes a lot of pictures of confluencing rivers, ending with the Drava and Danube, around the corner from us. I felt overwhelmed by God’s loving kindness and care in sending this to us at the right time. The strength of our lives lies in our weakness and finding the other in the brokenness. (2 Corinthians 12:9) “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

May God be always at the center so we remain the chord of three strands what is not easily broken, because God, the author of marriages, confluenced us together.

You can find Janneke at her blog

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How is Being Married Like Being an Expatriate?

Quick link: How Marriage is Like Living Abroad

Today I’m writing at A Life Overseas about the various stages of being an expat and the various stages of building a marriage.

Compatibility is an achievement of love. It shouldn’t be its precondition.

Alain de Botton

The same could be said for living abroad. I hear many people say they ‘fell in love with Africa’ as soon as their feet touched the ground off the plane. I’m not sure how Kenyan or Nigerian or Burundian tarmac has developed this incredible ability to inspire love for an entire continent, while American tarmac is just tarmac. But. I think the above quote by de Botton applies to living abroad as much as it does to love. We achieve compatibility with the new places we live in as foreigners, we don’t arrive perfectly adjusted. We need to know this and we need to know this is okay.

Here’s how living abroad can be like building a marriage (aka: achieving compatibility in love):

Week One

Everything in this country is awesome and fascinating and I just want to know, like intimately, know it. I want to be one with it. I think that is totally possible. I want people to see that I belong here because I’m so good at communicating, I can even do it just with my hands. Who needs words when I’m such a good fit? I fit in so naturally; wearing all the beautiful clothes and eating all the fascinating food. I adapt so easily to all the things that are done differently here. This country is the best country I could have chosen, it will make me better, smarter, funnier, more attractive. People will think I’m amazing, just because I live here. I’ll probably never leave. This country can do no wrong…

What, oh what, do the next years have for our marriages and our expat life?

Click here to read the rest of How Marriage is Like Living Abroad



The Course of Love

I’ve been reading a novel. I read, and finish, about one novel per year, so the fact that I am in the homestretch and will most likely finish this one is about the highest praise I can give.

It isn’t a gripping narrative, it isn’t dramatic, it isn’t a page-turner. But it is thoughtful, insightful, incisive, and contrary. I don’t agree with all of it and other parts of it, I feel like the author has entered my life and taken out a slice to place on paper. It hardly even counts as a novel as it is equally a kind of commentary on the nature of love, marriage, and longevity. Maybe it is cheating and I’m due up for another novel before the end of the year.

Here it is and here is one of many quotes I highlighted.

The Course of Love: A Novel, by Alain de Botton

“At the heart of sulk lies a confusing mixture of intense anger and an equally intense desire not to communicate what one is angry about. The sulker both desperately needs the other person to understand and yet remains utterly committed to doing nothing to help them do so. The very need to explain forms the kernel of the insult: if the partner requires an explanation, he or she is clearly not worth of one. We should add that it is a privilege to be the recipient of a sulk: it means the other person respects and trusts us enough to think we should understand their unspoken hurt. It is one of the odder gifts of love.”

Reviewed in the New York Times

Any absolute must-be-read recommendations? As in, novels that your spouse or best friend has to read or you will die because you need to talk about it so badly?


Do We Fight Too Much?

Quick link: People Say We Fight A Lot

Yesterday Babble published my post about marriage and fighting. My husband and I have heard several times recently that people think we fight a lot. This bothered me, at first. Do we fight a lot? Do we fight in public? Do we make people uncomfortable? Do I nag, criticize, pick silly fights?

fight a lot2

While I’m sure I do some of those things some of the time, do we fight so often that we should be classified as a couple that fights a lot? And if so, what does that even mean?

My husband and I are both conflict avoiders. But, we’ve been married for 16 years, and so we just kind of say stuff. You know, stuff. Like when we have an opinion or when we disagree. We say it.

I hated his mustache; I told him so. In front of guests. And I blogged about it.

He disagreed with me on a political issue and made that clear. At dinner with friends.

We rarely have big, blow-out arguments, though of course they do happen. What are the three main things couples tend to fight about? Sex, money, and kids? Well, we have all three of those, so yeah, we fight.

Those fights are in private, and they’re actually fights.

But the stuff that goes on in public? We never thought of it as fighting. That is, until several people commented that they heard from others that we fight a lot. Apparently the news was spreading around.


I wondered what people expected from a couple married for 16 years. Did they think I would agree with everything he said? Or that he would adore every decision I made? Did they think one of us should shut our mouths?

Read on to find out why I think the way we communicate is a sign of the strength of our marriage, not a weakness.

People Say We Fight A Lot

By |November 3rd, 2015|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , |2 Comments

Hard and Beautiful Marriage, Velvet Ashes

Quick link: Marriage is the Beautiful Hard

Yesterday I had a post published on Velvet Ashes about marriage and being an expatriate.

Sometimes I wonder what my marriage would look like if we had never moved overseas. We are coming up on fifteen years and all but two and a half of that have been as expatriates. Would we hold hands if we hadn’t moved to a Muslim country? Would we have more couple friends? Would we laugh more? Less? Would we know each other’s sweat spots (and I do mean sweat spots, not sweet spots)? When one of us says: I’m going to Somaliland and might have to fly through Mogadishu and will be gone 5 or 14 or 21 days, would we be able to say, “Okay. Just let me know.” And then would we both know that this is a good response? The things you learn about a person who is jet lagged or culture shocked or culture-shock-jet-lag-weary could seriously tear a relationship apart. And the things you share while walking through countries and loneliness and deep valleys and crazy mountain tops could seriously cement a relationship together.

tomI’ve said it before and I will say it again, I don’t think I could have stayed so long in the Horn of Africa without this specific man by my side (even though he drives me crazy sometimes).

Click here to read Marriage is the Beautiful Hard

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