Raise your hand if you’ve said or thought this before: “If everyone were more like me, this world would be a much better place.” Wow! Everyone’s hand is up — not really surprising. After all, there wouldn’t be any more differences if everyone was like you. We’d think the same, react the same, make the same decisions, share the same values and beliefs.

We’d all be right. There wouldn’t be any more conflict or division. Wow. What a time to be alive! Sign me up!

As great as that sounds, we have to face reality and realize that our differences aren’t the problem. We are created differently for a reason. Furthermore, it’s not about who is right or wrong. It’s about our uniqueness. It is about perspective, wants or desires, and opinions, and it’s those differences that attract us to each other. Will there be conflict? Yes. Conflict is inevitable, and when there is too much of those opposing needs, drives, wishes, and demands, we tend to see the following emotions and actions.

Emotions and Actions of Differences/Conflict

  • Anger
  • Resentment
  • Defensiveness
  • Justifications
  • Accusations
  • Hurt
  • Fear

Yes, conflict is inevitable. It’s how we choose to deal with it that’s important — especially when it comes to our marriage.

Are Differences Negatively Affecting your Marriage?

As couples, we must learn to accept our partner for
WHO they are, no matter our differences or divisions.

Remember that beliefs, opinions, preferences, etc., are NOT as important as accepting your spouse for who they are — even when you don’t see eye to eye. We need to know that our feelings, ideas, and concerns matter, that those differences are allowed and valued, and that we can be open about opinions. We don’t have to be made to feel like the enemy.

How can I Make Differences Work FOR our Relationship?

You could:

  1. Agree to disagree on your differences and preferences
  2. Ask yourself, “Is it so wrong to think differently?”
  3. Are the differences based on a petty disagreement or a serious value, belief, or philosophy?

If you sat down right now and thought hard about it, you’d probably find hundreds of things you disagree on but don’t make a big deal out of. So if none of those other things are creating issues, then why are these other differences so drastically different? Learn to manage conflict and differences to reconcile your relationship and grow stronger together.

What if the Same Issues keep Popping up Unresolved?

  1. Confront the issue. Don’t avoid it, and focus on confronting without fighting. Remember, your spouse is NOT your enemy. Don’t forget your “why” – the reason you loved, appreciated and cared for this person from the very beginning. Don’t damage the relationship. The person is always more important than the “thing” you are trying to resolve.
  2. Next, the goal or purpose in the conflict must be reconciliation of the relationship. Winning is not the goal.
  3. And don’t wait too long. Managing conflict needs to be done as quickly after the issue as possible. “Calmness lays great errors to rest.” Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.”
  4. Use good communication and conflict management tools. Use a soft start and assertive communication – ask for what you want and need but stay away from demands. Actively listen and take turns!
  5. Connect emotionally. What is your partner thinking, and why? Why is this so important to them? What is meaningful to them about this issue? What are they feeling? What’s underneath their need or want?
  6. Specific needs or desires need to be expressed positively. Come up with a mutual plan of action you agree to do. Make sure there is an expectation that is understood by both of you. Look intently for what you CAN accept, can understand from your partner’s viewpoint; not what you can’t.

All we’re trying to say here is that our differences define us and shine a light on our uniqueness. And that’s exactly why God created us as individuals. We were never meant to be the same or think the same. So why expect that from your spouse? We should all try our best not to allow differences to divide us.

We care about You and Your marriage! 

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Did we leave anything out? How different are you and your spouse? Do you welcome those differences, or are they becoming too big of an issue? How do you plan to resolve them? Please send us a quick email and help us keep this conversation going at Mike@MikeandSusanDawson.com.