By: Davida Brown
Have you and your spouse ever disagreed about an issue, with no resolution in sight? You are on one end of the spectrum and your spouse is on the other. You can’t fathom why she or he thinks that way, and no matter how many times you explain your rationale or blow holes in their rationale, the needle doesn’t move AT ALL. Seemingly, no matter what you do, you can’t move beyond the issue. So what do you do?
Well, don’t fret. This is common. At some point in every marriage, spouses will fundamentally disagree on something important to them individually. When this happens, both want their way, because they truly believe that their way is the right way and best for their marriage and family. If you’re in this situation, here are some tips to navigate these tricky waters.
- Is it really a Big Deal? When I coach couples in conflict over a particular issue, I often ask each spouse to answer one or more of the following: (1) on a scale of 1 to 10, how important is the issue to you?; (2) why is this issue so important?, (3) is this issue of vital importance to your marriage, such that holding your ground and refusing to budge is in the best interest of your marriage? Often, they discover that, when it’s all said and done, the issue really isn’t that important. The disagreement is more about getting their way. This is understandable. The values we learned as a child, our relationships with others, and our life experiences shape who we are and how we think. Our spouse has had different experiences and often doesn’t think the way we do, even on issues where we can’t even see another valid view. If you and your spouse are at opposite ends of the spectrum on an issue, take a minute and step away from it. Ask yourself, does this issue, and resolving it my way, really matter to my marriage? If it doesn’t, then accept your spouse’s view and move forward. In a healthy marriage, compromise is key. This means that you can’t always get your way. As the saying goes, you must learn to pick your battles.
- Is there any validity to my spouse’s view? No matter how smart we are, no matter how many times we've seen it before or done it before, we don’t know everything. No matter how strongly we feel that our way is the ONLY course of action to take, it’s not. There’s always another way. If you and your spouse are facing a difficult issue that’s plaguing your marriage because it remains unresolved, take some time to really listen and understand your spouse’s viewpoint. Ask yourself is there any validity to his or her position. If there is (and there always is folks), ask yourself (1) can I adjust my proposed course of action to accommodate my spouse’s views, (2) can I address my spouse’s concern(s) with my proposed approach so that he or she is more amenable to the approach, and/or (3) are there things my spouse could do to make me more comfortable with his or her approach. Answering these questions should help put you on a path to resolution.
- Pray for discernment. If you seek HIS guidance, he will provide it. If you just can’t seem to get past an impasse, ask God for help. He sees what you can’t. Pray, together, for His help. Pray, together, and ask that He order your steps and direct your path on this issue. He will. The question for you then becomes, will you follow His direction?