“Sometimes, diﬀerences are experienced in an obviously pointed and painful manner. When this happens, I hope we will be prepared to allow God’s grace to work in and through us to make these relationships work better.”
I OFTEN JOKE WITH MY WIFE that she is my cure for the disease of punctuality.
Some husbands may know what I am referring to and some wives may sympathise with how much my wife has to put up with by marrying me. Besides the many adjustments that come with living with another person, she has to cope with my wry sense of humour and a sharp tongue.
This brings me to a number of clients who tell me the reason they decided to divorce is that they are fed up with constantly arguing. When probed for the source of their arguments, some attribute it to their personality diﬀerences. Although I try as a rule to be accepting and sympathetic to their views, I find this statement hard to fathom.
If the couple were in their first few months, even years, of their marriage, perhaps this reasoning can make sense. But what stretches my imagination is to hear that they have been together for seven, 15, or in another case, 30 years!
What puzzles me is how they could have stayed together for so long and then say that they had enough of each other.
Perhaps being a Marital and Family erapist with 30 years of experience, I should not be surprised anymore by what my clients tell me – but I am, and this goes to show how complex and varied we are as human beings.
When someone uses the word “personality”, I am always unsure what he is referring to. It is a very broad and sometimes vague term.
For many, it covers a person’s character and personal traits. For others it includes habits and behavioural patterns. Some believe that an individual’s personality is unchanging, while others see it being constantly shaped by environmental interaction.
A person’s personality is thus a fundamental aspect of his identity and of who he is. So when one is attracted to another and decides to marry, one most probably was aware of and was taken in by some aspects of the other’s personality.
Therefore to say that after some time together you experience a personality clash seems to be too simplistic a way of explaining how things got to be undone.
Perhaps there are some who declare that they were unaware of some glaring faults in their partners-to-be before deciding to marry. If this is the case, then it speaks volumes of the need to not rush into relationships and to make a special eﬀort to know each other in an in-depth manner, like attending pre-marital preparation classes before deciding to marry.
Or perhaps they are referring to the fact that it is not the diﬀerences in themselves that cause the couple to falter, but their inability to resolve their disagreements and to repair their relationship.
Some couples disagree as if every issue is a matter of life and death. ey enter into arguments willing to concede no quarter. As a result, they begin with not wanting to negotiate but to get their way no matter what the cost.
It may be true that there are some aspects of a person’s personality that primes them to adopt such a stance. But I believe that it is time to take the concept of personality “oﬀ the hook” and call a spade a spade.
If we can be both honest and specific, it may be because we do not like to lose an argument, always want things our way, or feel insecure when things are not how we would want it, or find it hard to say sorry.
God has created each of us in our own unique way. Sometimes, we make the diﬀerences work well, as in a harmonious marriage, a good partnership or a cohesive team. Sometimes, the diﬀerences are experienced in an obviously pointed and painful manner.
When this happens, I hope we will be prepared to allow God’s grace to work in and through us to make these relationships work better. It is in bearing with one another that we also can allow the grace and love of God to grow in and through us.
Benny Bong is a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church, is a family and marital therapist.
New General Secretary for Bible Society
MR EZEKIEL TAN has been elected as the new General Secretary of the Bible Society of Singapore (BSS), subsequent to the retirement of his predecessor, Mr Lim Kam.
Mr Lim oﬃcially handed over the reins to Mr Tan at the joint Valedictory and Installation Service held on May 17, 2012, in the auditorium at Bible House.
Mr Tan has a Master of Divinity from Trinity Theological College.
The Right Rev Dr John Chew, Bishop of the Diocese of Singapore, presided over the service, which also marked the transfer of presidency of the BSS from Dr Bobby Sng, who retired, to Dr Lee Soo Ann, who had served as General Secretary before Mr Lim.
Staff members from United Bible Societies and the Bible Societies of other countries presented words and tokens of tribute to Mr Lim in gratitude for his service, and messages of congratulations and support to Mr Tan in his new role.