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How to Handle Disagreements in Marriage and Show Up as a United Front

Have you and your spouse ever had a disagreement? Silly question, right? There are many times you and your spouse may disagree on something or on an approach to something. Disagreements in marriage are very common! It is still important, however, to show up and work towards being a united front. Today I want to share with you some common disagreements in marriage and parenting, as well as some tools to help you and your spouse come to an agreement.

I do want to put the disclaimer out there and remind you all that my husband and I ARE human, and as much as we want to be a united front all the time, we aren’t always. Some days we do the whole give and take thing really well, and other times we take more than we should give. With that said, we have grown a lot in our communication and I would say we present a pretty good united front.

So what do I mean when I say a “united front”. A united front in parenting to me, looks like both parents being on the same page, regardless of personal preference, about any and all things that have the potential to impact our children in a major way. A united front in marriage looks like both individuals being on the same page, regardless of preference, about any and all things that have the potential to impact their marriage in a major way. 

disagreements in marriage

Sometimes you and your spouse will easily agree on things

When you and your spouse easily agree on something, it makes it very easy to be a united front. For example, relating to marriage, my husband and I don’t use the word divorce when we fight. We are committed to making it work so that we see and our kids can see it’s still possible. Another thing we are a united front with is our kids sleeping situation. We are both very against our kids sleeping in our bed. That’s our space and we personally put really firm boundaries there. 

Other times, you and your spouse may be indifferent

Then there are things that we may not totally agree on, but we don’t totally disagree either. In this case, one of us will “back down”, when deciding how to approach the situation together. For example, with our rental property, I let Justin take the lead. We talk through things and I may or may not agree on a price or a route of doing something, but ultimately I know we both are aware of the end goal of generating enough passive income through our real estate business. I know that each decision he makes has that end goal in mind, so I defer to his judgement. 

If there is something you and your spouse don’t necessarily agree on, I recommend letting the person with the most expertise or the one who is the most invested in that area take the lead. It’s important for the individual not making the decision to be OKAY with what is decided. Having a conversation and a deep understanding of what your long term vision and mission is for your family is crucial. This is something you have to come to an agreement on, because this will be the “WHY” behind everything your family does. Once you have identified this it will be so much easier for you to defer the final decision to the one who will be dealing with it the most in these situations. You will know deep down that they are working towards that vision and their decisions will reflect that. 

What to do when you and your spouse completely disagree 

Sometimes there are big differences in big areas of our lives and marriage. This can be anything from how much screen time you allow your kids, to much more difficult and heavier things like, what do you do if one of you wants to be disciplined and get out of debt and the other one isn’t committed and doesn’t want to make the lifestyle sacrifices to do it. 

The truth is there is no easy answer.

If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” – Mark 3:25

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” – Ephesians 4:2-3

Here is the framework Justin and I use to handle disagreements in marriage:

Step 1: Identify the stressors and the areas where you don’t feel united 

Sometimes when the same things keep coming up in marriage we can start to feel like we disagree on absolutely everything. When in reality, if you write things down that you actually disagree on, whether it be finances, or kids bedtime, screentime, date nights, nutrition, education, etc. I would be willing to bet it’s only a few things that just consistently come up. This gives you the beginning of a plan to work on something. 

“But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that is illuminated becomes a light itself.” – Ephesians 5:13

When we call out these areas and shine a light on them, we are saying, “No our marriage isn’t doomed, no our spouse isn’t our enemy, no it’s not everything. It’s this one, two, or three things. Now we can take action.” 

Step 2: Ask yourself, “Why do you care? And…do you actually care?”

Sometimes as moms, with all the information out there, we get some kind of expectation in our head and we try to fit our family in some kind of stereotypical bubble. When that doesn’t work for us it can cause tension. So taking the time to really evaluate if it’s a situation or decision worth your emotional and mental energy is important.

Step 3: Think about who really should have the most say in something

Like I talked about earlier above with Justin handling our rental business, we defer to the individual that has more of a pulse on things within a specific situation.  And Justin typically defers decisions about the boys education to me (Hence…the homeschooling this year!) It’s important to note… that there’s a difference in deferment because you trust the judgement of your husband even if you don’t necessarily agree and completely turning a blind eye and not use wisdom when something is not right.

Step 4: Present your spouse with some kind of evidence

If you disagree on something, do your research and share those studies and articles with your spouse. Whether this be regarding screen time, the amount of toys your kids have, how to discipline your children, or any other situation. There is a lot of helpful information out there you can use to learn from and discuss with each other.

Step 5: Take baby steps towards one another

Rarely do we ever completely give in to one another when we feel really strongly about something. Compromise and “meet in the middle”. For example, your husband thinks 5 hours a day of screen time is fine and you want 30 minutes? Settle for 2 shows a day for the kids. If you attend church and want your spouse to as well, maybe just set up some meet-ups with church couples for dinner so he can begin to build authentic relationships outside of the walls of the Big C church first. 

Step 6: If neither of you is willing to budge, lead by example

Start doing what it is you want to do, or handling situations how you want them handled, and have them notice the results. For example, if you say no to yourself with purchases in order to get a handle on your finances, they will start to notice and may follow suit. Unfortunately, the reality is, sometimes we are convicted of something before our spouse is. And this goes both ways.

What else can you do to handle disagreements in marriage?

I will always recommend and be pro-marriage counseling. There may be a reason you or your spouse are in so much debt. Maybe one of you grew up with barely any resources, so now the pendulum is swinging and you/they are giving your family more than they ever would need. Maybe your spouse struggles with communication in general because they never saw a positive way to communicate growing up. There are so many things that can be underlying. And typically if we are digging our heels in somewhere, chances are it goes deeper than the superficial issue we are discussing. Sometimes hearing someone else point it out that is not so emotionally involved can be liberating. 

Again, shine a light on it. Awareness and vulnerability can bring powerful change to a relationship.

I think we all have the same goal of being on the same page with our spouse. But life happens and expectations are left unsaid and unmet. Add exhaustion, outside stressors, pushing something under the rug that should have been dealt with, and things begin to spiral from there. Let’s not go one more day without calling out areas that need a light shone on it. 

Additional Resources

Are you ready for you and your spouse to start becoming a more united front? I am giving away my free guide to support you in this journey to becoming more of a united front! Click here to download my 2-page workbook that will help you work through differences, and you will also get instant access to 3 free bonus resources.

If you want to listen to the podcast version of this episode, click here. As always, I’d love to connect with you on Instagram where I regularly share more content just like this that will enable you to create positive changes for your family.

About the author, Stephanie

My name is Stephanie and I am a mom of 4 boys (ages 8, 6, 5, 2 + one on the way). My husband, Justin, and I met when I was 16 years old and have been together for 16 years now. We are also foster parents so we welcome the chaos! I have been a Special Education teacher for 7 years and still love to teach but I have chosen to pivot and focus on raising my boys and pouring my heart into this business now!

I'm so honored you are here and I promise to serve you by being prepared and present during this process together of learning to leave the legacy we want to leave through our motherhood.

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." -Galatians 6:9

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