When you married your spouse, you probably embraced your differences; however, over time the differences you have in opinions can turn out to be a major issue in your marriage. All couples have differences, but couples in healthy marriages learn how to manage those differences in ways that are healthy and constructive. Here are several principles you can apply to your marriage to help you and your spouse manage these differences in positive ways.
Accept that different is not wrong
The very first thing you should both realize is that being different does not make either of you wrong or right; it simply makes you different. You and your spouse do not have to agree on everything, and it can sometimes be better for a relationship when spouses have different opinions on situations. If you can simply accept that it is okay that you are different, you will have an easier time working through these differences.
Apply effective communication skills to your discussions
Effective communication is a skill that is vital if you want to handle these differences in ways that are non-destructive for your marriage. Effective communication requires the following factors and steps:
- Have a good, positive attitude towards your spouse
- Listen closely to what he or she is trying to say and keep eye contact
- Reiterate what he or she said to make sure you fully understand
- Look for truth in the opinions of your spouse
- Give each other turns to speak (even if this means setting a timer during your conversations), and always avoid interrupting your spouse when he or she talks
- Aim to find common ground or compromises in each situation
Find compromises in areas of differences
Finding a compromise for an argument does not mean you must both think exactly alike on the topic, but it does mean you should aim to find a solution you can both live with. This will require listening to what each of you wants and hopes for in the situation and trying to find an answer to the issue that you are both comfortable with. As you work through these issues, make sure you value your spouse's opinions, even though they are not the same as yours. Once you reach a compromise, it's important for both of you to stick with the solution you came up with together.
Visiting a marriage counselor is a great way to learn how to effectively work through issues you may have in your marriage. To learn more, contact a marriage counselor today to schedule an appointment.
For marriage counseling, contact a counselor such as Diane Fitch LMFT LPC.