They say that opposites attract. It's true. Although my wife, Adele, and I are very similar, we do differ in how we process decisions. Adele would tell you that I'm always hatching new plans. Sometimes it's for a trip or a budget, other times it's a brand-new ministry or just a project around the house. Recently, I read the book, The Money Challenge, by Art Rainer and felt a new wave of ideas coming on. After enthusiastically writing them down, I shared them with Adele, who basically said, "That's nice dear," and went on her merry way. She has been down these roads with me enough times to know that my first idea is rarely my last idea. So many revisions occur between here and there that she's no longer worried or excited about the initial idea coming out of my mouth.
For an external processor like myself, you have to put the ideas out there. They have to be heard! Whether it's journaling, discussing or just muttering to yourself, it's just how an external processor works. My wife on the other hand is the opposite. She's an internal processor. She'll read a book and think about it for the rest of the day. Two days later we'll be sitting together when she lets me know about an idea she's come up with, how it all fits together and makes perfect sense, and then caps the conversation off with, "Oh and just so you know, we've already started". Although I've gotten better, I have to admit that in the past I would panic or get angry. After all, I'm a planner and I've barely begun to process the plan. She's ready to take action and I haven't gotten to talk with myself about it yet. In addition, as followers of Christ we’re always praying about things and she's had the opportunity to pray and make a conclusion, while I’m still wondering what God has to say about all of this.
What do we do? Whether it's financial, travel, parenting or whatever how do we bring these to different paths together? The help I’ve considered in these moments is from the Bible. In the book of James, it says, "Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God" (James 1:19 ESV). Simply put, the practical way to be patient with one another is to be a good listener, a thoughtful speaker and rarely angry. Offer your opposite what they need: time, ears, words, facts, figures and probably space to pray. Whatever kind of processor you are, my bet is, you’ll be glad you did.s