Handling Disagreements

January 12, 2014

in the generous life

Alecia commented on yesterday’s post on disagreements.

I would love to hear (read) how you go about resolving/compromising on the bigger issues.

I’ll give it a shot.

Paul and I have had many disagreements over the years. Most of them have been small, but we’ve had a few humdingers.

We try to approach disagreements as a team and give each other the right to have opinions and perspectives that are different. We are allowed to think the way we think, believe what we believe and feel what we feel. It’s a respect thing.

We have also learned that, for the most part, you don’t have to make fast decisions. You can take your time to pray, talk, research, brainstorm and try a few things.

We also don’t expect to get anything workable the first time. If we do, that’s great (amazing even), but usually it takes a number of tries to get something that is workable for the two of us. We also realize that things change over time, so we may need to revisit an issue if circumstances change or if we change what we think, believe or feel.

God is the source of true knowledge and wisdom. He lives totally outside of the box and He can help you sort through the issue and find creative options. Pray throughout the whole process.

Identify the real issue.
I don’t know how many times Paul and I would get fussy and the issue we were fighting about wasn’t the real issue. We might be tired, hungry (or tired and hungry), feeling unloved, we were angry about something that happen at work, etc. Sit down and dig into the situation. Look at what is really going on. Take your time.

Talk through what you feel and believe.
Issues don’t exist in a vacuum. We have beliefs (based on experience, study and often what others have said) and feelings that will play into the issue. The important thing is to make room for these. While you want to respect where you are, you also need to be open to learn and to own when your emotions are coloring your perspective. Be willing to give other perspectives a good hearing. A lot of things are not necessarily right or wrong. Many things are about preference.

Talk about options.
When you both have heard each other very well, begin to talk about possible options. What are the things that are really important to each of you? Is this about preference or is there some truth at play that needs to be respected? (I love the book The 3rd Alternative by Covey. It’s a great help in this sorting out what you actually want and possible options.)

Pick the idea you think is the best to try for awhile.
As you look at the options is there one that stands out as more workable? Ask yourselves how you can try that? What do you need to do? Say? Can you both really live with it (at least temporarily)?

Revisit your choice to make sure it’s going OK.
After a bit, have a sit down and talk through your solution. Is it working? Is is conflicting with beliefs or needs? Do you need to modify it? Toss it out and try something else?

And now a story …

Paul and I grew up in church and had always been taught to tithe. A few years after we got married, Paul began to believe (mostly because of study) that giving should be Spirit lead. I was so not happy about this, I think mostly because Paul was in a season of questioning and I was tired of the upheaval in our lives. (After I fussed at him) I agreed to pray and study the issue. Paul was far more gracious and gave me the time and space to sort it out.

I do love to study, so I pulled out the books and dug in. I looked at what was said about money, who said it to whom, under what conditions, etc. I will own that I was not happy with what I found. I liked having a simple rule. I didn’t want to change how I did things. Tithing = 10% to my church, easy peasy. Spirit lead giving = I would have to pray and listen and probably do something goofy (which was anything other than 10% to my church). <sigh>

I ended up owning that my study at least opened the door to Spirit lead giving and that I was willing to try it with him. This has lead to many amazing adventures (helping people with their rent, food and clothing for disaster relief, support of various ministries and churches, and more) something now that I embrace and enjoy as a part of the ongoing God adventure.

As a final comment, I do want to say that I don’t expect people to believe as I do. I share this story to show how Paul and I dealt with one of our humdingers. I respect that people need to know what they believe and live that. I encourage people to give and to give generously according to their belief system. Giving is a kingdom dynamic. I won’t quibble on what that looks like for others.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  Matthew 6:21  ESV


The Forgiven Wife: Surviving a Polar Vortex Keeping the storms of life in perspective.


(in)courage: Learning To Live Generously And My One Word “Giving involves your heart more than your pocketbook.”


Marriage Life: The Right Questions (website closed) Questions to ask when you are mending from an affair.


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Image courtesy of Liz Noffsinger / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Bonnie @ Love, Marriage and Sex January 12, 2014 at 1:16 pm

Great advice, Lori. I think the hardest part of it all is “Identifying the real issue.” I remember growing up, I fought a LOT with my mom. She could say something as unoffensive as “Don’t forget to put away the laundry” and I would blow up as if she’d punched me in the face. She would always ask “Why are you really upset?” At the time, I was too immature to even make an attempt as figuring out the “real reason” I was angry, but now know that sometimes, a series of shallow arguments makes a great shield for a more substantial problem. And that would be a major contributing factor to our country’s high divorce rate.


Lori - The Generous Wife January 12, 2014 at 6:09 pm

It’s amazing how easy it is to overlook the real reason for marriage tensions. That’s one of the reasons I said “take your time” with this step. It can take a bit of digging to unearth the real issues.


Diane October 25, 2016 at 7:26 am

Thanks for your post. It’s great wisdom and seasoned advice. My husband and I teach a marriage class at our church. We recently taught the couples this formula for handling conflict.

His perspective + Her perspective + God’s perspective = Unity and Oneness

That seems simple, but when we talk through how we each feel and pray about it, I have to trust that God will lead my husband to make a wise choice. He has all the input he needs to make a wise decision. I may not like it or agree, but I have to trust that he is listening to God’s direction. His responsibility is to follow the Lord, not me.


Tracey October 26, 2016 at 6:17 pm

The link to this article is not working.

Marriage Life: The Right Questions Questions to ask when you are mending from an affair.


Lori - The Generous Wife October 26, 2016 at 7:07 pm

Sorry, this was an old post and the site mentioned is now closed.


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