HELP FOR THE FAMILY
When Viewpoints Differ
Differences in interests, habits, and personality traits can be challenging enough for married couples to deal with. But some issues, such as the following, can be even more sensitive:
How much time to spend with relatives
How to manage money
Whether to have children
What can you do if you and your spouse have conflicting viewpoints?
What you should know
Compatible does not mean identical. Even the most compatible husband and wife will not always have the same view, even on serious issues.
“I grew up in a tight-knit family. On weekends, we would spend time with my grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins. My husband’s family didn’t do as much together. So we have different views on how much time we should be with family or spend communicating with relatives who live far away.”—Tamara.
“My wife and I grew up with different priorities on how to spend money. During the first few months of marriage, we had a few arguments about it. The problem wasn’t fixed after the first conversation or even the second.”—Tyler.
Some problems cannot be solved by simple compromise. For example, what if an in-law gets sick and needs care? Or what if one spouse wants to have children but the other does not? a
“My wife and I have had a few long talks about having children. She is thinking about it more and more, and our viewpoints are moving further apart. I don’t see a way to compromise.”—Alex.
Different viewpoints need not doom your marriage. Some experts say that if you and your spouse are at an impasse on a serious issue, you should do whatever it takes to get your way—even if that means walking away from your marriage. But that “solution” puts too much importance on your feelings and too little importance on your vow before God to stick with your spouse, come what may.
What you can do
Be determined to honor your marriage vow. With that foundation, you will be better able to approach the issue as a team rather than as opponents.
Bible principle: “What God has yoked together, let no man put apart.”—Matthew 19:6.
Count the cost. For example, suppose one spouse wants to have children but the other does not. There are a number of factors to consider, including:
The strength of your relationship.
Can your marriage handle the added stress of raising a child?
The responsibilities of parenthood.
More is involved than providing food, clothing, and shelter.
Your financial situation.
Can you balance work, family, and other obligations?
Bible principle: “Who of you wanting to build a tower does not first sit down and calculate the expense?”—Luke 14:28.
Consider all aspects of the matter. You may be able to resolve some points of conflict. For example, if the issue is whether to have children, the spouse who is reluctant could ask himself or herself:
‘When I say that I do not want to have children, do I mean not ever or just not now?’
‘Am I hesitant because I doubt that I could be a good parent?’
‘Am I afraid that my spouse will neglect me?’
On the other hand, the spouse who wants to have children could consider such questions as:
‘Are we ready for the responsibilities of parenthood?’
‘Are we in a financial position to raise a child?’
Bible principle: “The wisdom from above is . . . reasonable.”—James 3:17.
Recognize the merits of your spouse’s viewpoint. Two people can look at the same scene and yet have different views of it. In the same way, a couple can look at an issue and each have a unique perspective on it—for example, on how money should be spent. To discuss any situation where viewpoints clash, start with what you have in common.
What is your shared objective?
What merit is there in each viewpoint?
For the sake of the marriage, can one or both of you adjust your viewpoint to accommodate the other?
Bible principle: “Let each one keep seeking, not his own advantage, but that of the other person.”—1 Corinthians 10:24.
a Serious issues should be discussed before marriage. Still, unexpected circumstances can arise, or the feelings of one mate may change over time.—Ecclesiastes 9:11.