Friday, March 7, 2008

Marriage By the Book... Compromising Positions

Christian marriage Q & A from a minister, writer and successful marriage partner of nearly 25 years!
DISCLAIMER: While I am a pastor, I am not a psychologist, psychiatrist or degreed counselor. Please understand this (I will remind you often). What I *am* is a wife of nearly 25 years who has made many observations, both humorous and grave, enlightening and frustrating, and who has come to many conclusions about marriage. The purpose of this column will be to share the Biblical insight God has given on this remarkable union between woman and man, and to share the minuscule traces of wisdom that I've acquired from doing marriage wrong, and doing it right!

Q. My husband and I love each other very much, but we fight and argue all the time! We both regret it, and make up quickly, but we seem to disagree about everything. Can you offer any advice?


* Personal details have been changed.

Marie, let me encourage you and tell you that if you and your husband are both willing to compromise, you can get beyond this problem and have a happy and peaceful marriage! Trust me... I've been there.

My husband and I fell in love very soon after we met, but we were (and are!) polar opposites in personality and temperament. I'm a high strung, creative, do-it-now, quick-decision-making type person. He's a low-key, laid-back, take-it-easy, don't-make-a-decision-until-you've-thought- about-every-angle type. We clashed on our second date!

We were not Christians at the time, which made matters worse, but even after Jesus changed our lives, we battled for years to get along peaceably. Here are some hard-learned lessons that helped us come to the place we are today where we can barely remember the last time we truly argued. Mind you, we still disagree! But we've learned to do so agreeably. Perhaps these principles will help you and your husband.

1. Put your spouse's needs before your own.

This is easier said than done, but it's crucial to a right relationship -- marriage or otherwise! James 4:1-2 says, "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it... You quarrel and fight." When we put OUR desires and OUR wants before those of others, we not only do not please God, who expects us to "love our neighbors as [ourselves]," (Matthew 22:39) but we also cause fights and quarrels with others because of our self-centered attitudes.

"Giving in" is not "giving up." Contrary to popular belief, you don't lose a part of yourself because you compromise or let someone else have their way. Especially with unimportant matters. You actually become a better person when you learn to put others ahead of yourself.

2. Communicate calmly and clearly.

Another biggie if you want to get along better with anyone -- and especially your spouse -- is to learn to communicate well. Don't yell or scream (I'm guilty of this one!). Don't get mad and pout. Don't expect someone to know what you mean if you don't express yourself clearly. We may (and hopefully, do!) love each other when we marry, but we don't *know* each other. We must learn to understand how our spouse thinks and how s/he reacts to certain situations. And if we want our spouse to know US better, we have to teach them about us as well.

If you have a complaint, express it, but do so quietly, without raising your voice or becoming overly upset. Attack the problem, NOT the person. Don't insult your spouse or call names. Discuss the situation as calmly as possible and look for a mutually agreeable solution. Again, not easy to do, but you'll be amazed at the difference it makes in your marriage!

3. Compromise.

I know from personal experience that if I had to choose only one piece of advice for a new couple, this would be it, yet it's the one area that so many newlyweds neglect.

If your husband doesn't like you to leave the cap off the toothpaste, put the cap back on the toothpaste. If your wife hates it when you leave the toilet seat up, put the toilet seat down. If you want a green sofa, but your husband hates green, get a blue sofa, or a brown one that you BOTH like. Learn to compromise.

I call this common courtesy. It begins at home.

So what if you've "always done it that way," or if you don't understand "why it's such a big deal"? If it's causing an argument, it's a big enough deal to change. So change it. What's more important... leaving the cap off the toothpaste or making your husband happy?

We marry to be with someone who loves us and to share our love with someone else. A major aspect of love is in the giving... if we truly learn to give, we will eliminate the majority of our marital spats and can literally change our marriage overnight. Try it and see for yourself.

(All scripture references taken from the NIV unless otherwise noted.)

Darlene "Dee" Bishop is a writer and creative designer with decades on online experience and the owner of Bishop's Corner, an online/catalog shop offering hundreds of quality gifts, home decor items, toys, housewares, furniture and more with nearly 1,000 products under $20. Visit her today at


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