Ok, so a lot of people think that marriage is some sort of fairytale or Hollywood story where you just know the right things to say, and you always agree on everything, and if you dont eventually come over to the other person's line of thought you are able to convince them that your way is better...But that just isnt the way things work put here in the real world. There are going to be some things that you two just simply dont agree on, and probably will never agree on. So what do you do?
Agree to Disagree
This is easier said than done...as most things are. This usually is a personal struggle, as you cant really MAKE your spouse be ok with the fact that you don't agree with them. So how do you handle it? Well first, let me give you a little background on human interaction. There's this thing that people used to do... its called talking. Yup, that's right, back before there were TV's, radios, mp3 players and computers people would sit around and talk. They would share their thoughts and views on the world, art, politics, and human nature. They would engage in philosophical and theological discussion, not with the intent to convert or convince but to simply understand each other better. 

So how do you handle it when your spouse disagrees with you? Talk about it. Have an open and frank discussion with your spouse. Be sure to ask them questions about why they feel as they do, what has influenced their decision, what events may have contributed to their current line of thought... use these situations as an opportunity to get to know your spouse on a deeper, more intimate and personal level. You will be amazed at the things you will learn about the person you thought you already knew everything about when you actually ask them about themselves. When having these discussion always try to remind yourself that you're two totally different people, with two totally different histories, and two totally different ways of thinking about things and approaching situations, so its really pretty unreasonable for you to expect that they are going to have all the same opinions as you. And that's ok. 

Discussing your differences, or perceived differences will actually help bring you two closer together as long as it is done with the spirit of trying to understand your spouse. This may actually help you or your spouse change their mind about how they feel or at the very least it will help you both understand where the other is coming from. When you understand how a person arrived at the conclusion they have, it is a little easier to at least respect their position, even if you don't agree with it.

When Agreeing To Disagree is Too Hard
If trying to do the above mentioned exercise fails and becomes a heated discussion then assure your spouse that you were just trying to understand them better and that you had not intended it to become an argument. Then drop it. You may even want to assure them that its ok that you two disagree and that when they are ready you would like to try discussing it again. 

Also, women, it is very important to not ambush your husband with deep or personal discussions. If something comes up in casual conversation that you would like to talk about further then you need to be sure to let your husband know that you would like to discuss that more and to ask when he would be available to do so. This has worked wonders with John and I, the reason being that it gives John a chance to figure out how he feels as well as put words to how he feels and gives me some time to become less emotional about the topic. This really helps prevent conflict. 

Men have a hard time putting words to the way that they think. Men, despite being 'simple' creatures actually have a very fast thought process and it take conscious effort for them to slow it down and decipher their own thoughts and emotions. This is an almost involuntary action for us women, so we need to try to be sensitive to the fact that if a man is not say something its not because he is ignoring you, its that he is still trying to process the request for information and formulate a response that will make sense. So if your husband doesn't answer right away just be patent and let him answer when he is ready to. If you push or rush him you will likely be disappointed with the results.

When a situation comes up that does not allow for you to simply agree to disagree and a decision has to be made, how do you deal with it? You have to compromise. This means that both people have to give up something in order to create a situation that both people can deal with. You both may not be entirely excited about it but if you're ever going to get anything done without fighting all the time then you both have to be willing to give up something small so that the bigger goals are still able to be reached. Some situations in which compromises must be made are when discussing how to discipline the children, what church they'll go to, moving, how to spend the holidays, how to approach delicate situations and many others. One such topic that comes up regularly in marriage is sex. What he likes and what she likes vary quite a lot in most marriages and its important that both people be happy with and enthusiastic about their sex life, so when desires differ so much how do you make it work? Like I told you before, talk about it. Seek to understand your spouse and why the things they like are so important to them, then come up with a game plan that both of you can follow to make sure your spouse's needs are met, and that yours are being met too. For some couples, particularly those in the military or other similar situation in which the work week is very hectic, it might mean that during the week you do not expect fancy sex, but on the weekend you both take turns planning something special that is tailored to the needs and desires of your spouse. This may also mean that your hubby just needs to bite the bullet and learn how to at least talk sweet to you for a little bit before trying to engage you in sex during the week. You're busy too and have a lot going on even if you don't have a job like his and he should try to be sensitive to that by making sure his invitation, or his request/demand for sex as is sometimes the case, is a pleasant one that encourages you to willingly, even happily, participate.As far as parenting goes you'll want to talk about what both sets of parents did or didn't do that you think is good or bad, then combine as many of the good things as you both agree on and in the areas that you don't agree on do some experimenting with to see what you both end up liking. John and I have adopted methods from both sides of the family and in certain areas we have thrown those things out altogether and are implementing what we have seen to be most effective with our daughter. Even if you don't think a certain method will work, at least be willing to give it a trial period of a week or two so you both can see how your family responds to the change in parenting styles. If it works, keep it and build on it, if it doesn't then try something else. As always in marriage you just need to try to be flexible and willing to give things a shot that you may not necessarily like at first. It might turn out that that way works better than the others and if you never give it a chance you'll never know. This also works to show your spouse that something they think would work really wasn't a good idea by giving them hard evidence that shows its ineffective or just doesn't really mesh with your particular situation. Try not to take anything personal and keep an open mind, always remembering that your spouse is a unique individual with unique and individual ideas on how to handle things and to live harmoniously those differences need to be understood and worked with. Its a lot to deal with but this is why we humans live such a long time. So relax, take it one day at a time, and as always, learn to have fun with it!  

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