I was talking to a friend the other day, and in the midst of a story he was telling me, he mentioned that when he and his wife don’t agree, they don’t move forward with something until they do. Considering that this man has been married for more than 50 years, I figure it is good advice and something I should pass along.
I’m guessing most married couples face the dilemma of not agreeing with each other more than once a week. Maybe more than once a day. That’s because not only do opposites attract, but even though people are married, they are individuals and their differences don’t simply disappear once they say their vows.
Every year, I speak at our Winning At Home Premarital Event to a group of couples that are either engaged or newly married. We put on this annual event to help couples build a good foundation for their marriage. We know it’s easy for couples to focus more on their wedding day than their marriage, so we spend a day preparing them for their life together. We know that once the presents are unwrapped, the dress preserved, the tuxes returned, and the thank you notes sent, that’s when things will start to get real.
The hard truth is that couples will eventually disagree. It’s likely they did over whether to serve chicken or fish at the wedding, but after the honeymoon phase disappears, the disagreements will get a little deeper and probably more expensive. Couples may disagree on which house to buy, what city to live in, or how to raise their children. These kinds of decisions are often expensive, either monetarily or emotionally, and couples have to be willing to pay the price of working through them.
Often, one spouse wants to barge ahead and move forward but only in a way that ends in them “winning,” or getting what they want. But working it out means seeing everything from your spouse’s perspective as well as your own. It involves listening, asking clarifying questions, and being patient. That last one is tough. We live in a culture where everything keeps moving forward, and to slow down or stop is viewed as negative.
But that’s what couples need to do when they don’t agree. It may be that one person will abandon their idea and adopt their spouse’s. Or, after talking it out, a couple will agree on a totally new idea or thought. Coming to an agreement takes time. It takes patience to look at the whole picture instead of stopping at only what you see.