When You Disagree with Your Spouse
- 2012 19 Feb
The best way to describe it is to say that Spouse and I are in love. We are crazy about each other. We've lived a lifetime of building a good marriage.
But there are times when we disagree. Not argue - we don't participate in that activity much anymore. But we just plain and simple do not agree on a specific topic. Be it the children, the climate, the animals, or something else, we come at it from different perspectives and make dissimilar deductions.
So, when we drop on two different sides of an issue - him on one side and me on the other - what do we do?
Our first line of defense is to pray. We just bring up the subject to the Lord and ask Him to show us His wisdom in this area. For him to bring us together on it, or give us the kindness to live together with different views. We have learned that we won't agree on everything, but we do want to agree on the major things: God, child-raising, monogamy. The basics of life.
From the very earliest days of our marriage, we were made aware of our extreme oppositeness in circadian rhythms. I am an early, early bird. Not just waking up when the sun rises over the hills. But, even before the birds arise, I'm up and about. Spouse, on the other hand, is the proverbial night owl. He starts slow in the morning, then gains speed all day, making it hard to stop at night. The early morning hours might find him just winding his way up the stairs to our bed, and me popping up all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed ready for a new day. Sometimes I think we only need a twin bed, because of our opposite sleeping shifts.
So, taking our energetic times into account, we try not to discuss hard subjects late at night (I can't make sense of it) or early in the morning (he really can't make sense of it). So, after eight at night discussions are off limits. Rarely have we broken this rule and had a good result.
So we set a time to discuss it later in the week or weekends are good. That way we both have time to pray more and think about our views - and how important they are to us. Sometimes he will have a strong opinion about a topic, and I'm neutral, or barely on the other side. When those situations arise, then I usually let him take the lead. It's just not that significant to me, and it is to him.
But those times when we both believe passionately in our views? That's when the fun begins. Not because I like to argue - I don't. I really don't. But, when we disagree, we get to see God's hand at work. You see, we both believe God wants to be involved in our daily lives, and that He has opinions on things. And we both want His perspective on life - even the mundanities of daily living.
Early in our marriage, I wanted more children and Spouse didn't. He was comfortable with our three, and he was finished. Well, I wasn't. So we butted heads. I tried to manipulate him. I cried. He was unmoved, stubborn man! Then I backed off and prayed, relinquishing my rights to the Lord, and asking for His will. Oh, I poured out my heart to God, and let Him know how I was feeling, what I was thinking, and my deepest desires. But, to my husband, I laid down my requests. This strong-willed woman humbled herself and said, "Honey, let's just agree to pray about it for a week. Then whatever you decide will be the course we take." It was probably the hardest choice I have ever made: to put my future in the hands of someone else. To let someone make this important of a verdict for me.
but our eyes are on Thee.
And that was really the crux of the matter - my eyes were on the Lord, trusting that He would have the ultimate say. And He did. After one week, Spouse's heart was changed and the rest, as they say, is history. God worked a miracle. Because I left it up to Him, we were able to witness His personal involvement.
When we discuss, each side restates their view - and then comes in our history. After thirty-something years of living together as husband and wife, we've learned a few things. One is to deal to our strengths. We're both not good at everything, but together we make a decent whole. Spouse is excellent in negotiations, dealing with people, helping everyone come to an amicable conclusion. So if the topic at hand has to do with how to handle a person, then he'll probably take the lead. This is his area of expertise. I am more intuitive and can sense when things aren't right. And I know the rules of our lives: how we want to raise the children, what foods are off limits for our specified diets, where things belong. And I'll lead us on those. And he lets me, because of all of my years of proving my knowledge base and proficiency.
And other times we just agree to disagree, respectfully. Spouse and I realize we just won't come to terms on everything in life, and the whatever the subject is, it's probably not so important anyway. It won't matter in the perspective of our whole lives - so we let it go. But, we choose to respect each other in the process. "I don't agree with your view," he might say, "but I understand why you think that. I just come at it from a different angle." If our angles parallel or converge, it's fine, as long as they don't cause friction or disharmony.
There is no one way, right way, or set-of-rules way to find agreement or peace in the midst of disparity. But, if we can remember our marriage is made up of two people - and we can respect each of them - when we pray, I know God delights in bringing us answers. His answers. His perspective. In His time.
Mark & Kym Wright have eight children and live in Michigan, but call the South home.