Right now it seems like every day we’re changing our minds. Literally, from the government to the CDC to our friends, our stance on how we think is moving in a different direction than it was a week ago. This is true on a large scale and it’s also true in our own homes.
Do we wear a mask or not? Do we go out to a restaurant or not? Who are we going to vote for? What’s our response to George Floyd’s death? What do we think about schools being distant?
The amount of important topics to which we need to decipher an opinion on are ENDLESS. Every day there’s new information and we’re constantly having to negotiate in our own mind and with the people we love most how we respond.
It’s for this reason that I firmly believe that it’s OKAY to disagree with your spouse.
As I’ve mentioned before, Brian and I had our fair share of challenges when we first got married. We worked a LOT to figure out each other’s communication style, expectations, and how to navigate big life choices. Now just because we worked hard in those first years of marriage doesn’t mean we prance along the beach boardwalk like everything is perfect. (Even if Instagram makes it look like that.)
Nope, we still work at our relationship every day because, even though we came from similar backgrounds and cultures, we are STILL two very different people who look at life differently… which is BEAUTIFUL. More on that in a moment.
So, here are my tips on navigating disagreements with your significant other.
- Determine your foundational beliefs
Foundational beliefs are the non-negotiables in your marriage that reflect you and your combined goals or purpose in life. If you’re engaged or married, chances are you’ve already talked about the big ticket items: kids, faith, and politics. If you haven’t… close this browser and go have that convo right now. For every couple, they’re going to have different non-negotiable foundational beliefs. If one person wants to have kids and one person vehemently doesn’t, then that’s something that needs to be worked out before you get married or with a professional counselor. For Brian and I, it’s foundational that our faith is the same, but it’s okay if we disagree on politics. For you, it may be different. Either way, determine what those big non-negotiable beliefs are together.
2. Determine how to disagree
Once you settle on your foundational beliefs, get real honest with HOW you communicate when you disagree. It’s going to happen, and it’s going to happen A LOT. I suggest picking something small you disagree on– like how to fold the laundry. Then talk about HOW you talk about it. Practice things like “I hear you saying…, is that what you mean?” Practicing phrases when you’re not in the heat of an argument will be helpful in instilling that humble mindset. Keep talking about what’s frustrating– don’t just throw in the towel because that seems easier in the moment. Move towards each other in the conflict, knowing that ultimately, it’s okay if you don’t 100% agree with one another as long as you come up with a compromise.
Right now it’s the coronavirus and the election. At some point, these won’t be our main talking points, but there WILL be other issues where we disagree. It’s not just okay to disagree, it’s important to disagree because disagreeing is better than not talking about these important issues at all.
The beautiful thing about marriage is that you work out your issues with another person. It forces you to learn and seek to understand, which in turn makes you a better person for everyone else.