Dr. Wall discusses the untapped gold mine of disagreements in marriage.  Couples often fight when they disagree.  But Dr. Wall explains that disagreeing in marriage is actually a major strength of marriage.  He suggests that instead of fighting, we stop long enough to hear the wisdom our spouse is saying.

The first to present his case seems right

Until another comes and cross-examines him.

Proverbs 18:17

A fool finds no pleasure in understanding

but delights in airing his own opinions.

Proverbs 18:2

The older I get the more I believe that disagreeing in marriage is a good thing. This is why marriage works. Married people live longer than unmarried people. They have more money when they die. Their kids do better in school. The advantages go on and on. Why? The whole idea of marriage is two heads are better than one. Nobody knows everything. You only have eyes on one side of your head. God didn’t make us like flies with thousands of eye-units facing backwards and forwards. Marriage gives you another pair of eyes.

Imagine you are a soldier in a battle during the Middle Ages. You are fighting an enemy combatant with your sword thinking to yourself that your opponent is weak and you will put him away easily. Then someone comes and stabs you in the back. You couldn’t see them, so you couldn’t defend yourself. Contrast that with a movie scene we’ve all watched where two swordsmen are standing back-to-back and fending of 10 attackers. Standing back-to-back is a perfect metaphor for marriage.

You see things she can’t see. She sees things you can’t see. Together you can see the whole horizon. In order to take advantage of this we need to listen to what the other person has to say. We can’t listen if we’re defensive. You have to have at least a smidgen of humility or you will completely ignore what she says or argue that she is wrong and you are right. More than likely you both have a good point because neither is seeing everything.

My wife and I were celebrating our anniversary in Kansas City one June when we were driving on one of the downtown streets. There was two-way traffic with two lanes going both ways. We were in the left lane and I was driving. Mary Sue was sitting next to me. All of a sudden a motorcycle came up beside us on the right. I noticed right away that it was the same model of motorcycle that we owned 15 years ago when the kids were little. We had lots of good memories with that motorcycle: Taking the kids for rides or my wife and I sneaking off for a little date, just the two of us. I said, “Hey, look, there’s a motorcycle like the one we used to have!”

My wife looked over at it and said disgustingly,“Euuuuuuu!”

I said, “What’d you mean, ‘Euuuuuuu?’”

She said, “Did you see that guy? He has a Nazi helmet on.”

I said, “No. Did you see that that was like our old motorcycle?

She replied, “No.”

Neither of us saw the whole thing. What each of us saw was accurate. We each saw only part of it. It took us both to see the guy and his motorcycle. I think this is a great example of how both parties are bringing some wisdom to the table.

She says he needs to spend more time with their daughter having fun, that he is coming down on their daughter too much. He says that his wife is too lenient with their daughter and that their daughter isn’t studying enough and thinks life is a party. The couple argues about this. Hey, wait a minute. They are both right.

He wants a new car. She says they can’t afford it. They probably need a newer car and they probably can’t afford it. So rather than waste time arguing about this why not work together to figure out how to save more money and cut spending so they can afford a different car?

He might argue that the couple needs to be sexual more often, that the two of them are drifting away. She might argue that she doesn’t want to be sexual unless she feels closer and they spend more time together. This couple probably needs to both be more sexual and spend more time together!

For too many couples, though, when they disagree on things like this, they end up arguing! What a complete waste of time. I’ve actually heard people say that if the two of them disagree, they must not love each other! Hey, you are NOT going to find anyone that agrees with you on everything. If you did and you married her, you would be sooooo bored! Life needs a little color. We need a different perspective. This what you each bring to the table.

I’m a little embarrassed it took me so long to get this. I’m glad my wife was patient with me. It took too long to get this through my thick, arrogant head.

Here’s a hint. The next time you disagree with your spouse, instead of getting upset, ask yourself what in the world is really going on here? What is the wisdom your spouse is tapping in to? What are you missing? Do you need to swallow a little pride? Do you need to consider a different point of view?

Keep in mind, she is not going to be right all the time. Neither are you. A little humility would be a good thing here. She’s not dumb. Neither are you. Let’s compare notes. For most of our marriages, disagreement is an untapped gold mind right under our feet.

A week after I had this discussion with a young couple, they came back and told me that they started to argue that week about a disagreement they were having. All of a sudden the wife said to her husband:

“Remember. Bing said I’m not dumb!”

They both laughed. They both relaxed. They tapped into their gold mine.

Hey, a little humility might be good. Well-timed humor never hurt either.

Come on, people! Why spend time arguing about our differences? Let’s figure this out.


Dr. Bing Wall is a marriage therapist with a practice in Ames and Urbandale, Iowa.  To set up a time to see Dr. Wall click here or call 888-233-8473.  For more information about Dr. Wall click here.

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