When dating and falling in love with your future companion, it seems they can do no wrong. You love the quirky things they do and you don’t mind the dirty socks scattered around the living room or the stack of dishes in the sink. But, once you say, “I do,” and live under the same roof, the differences between you and your spouse become evident. They quickly become an annoyance and can easily ruin your mood.
When my husband and I were dating, I knew he loved to buy treats and soda. I just didn’t realize how much until we combined our bank accounts. To him, having money for his daily soda was just as important as paying his car payment. For me, money should not be spent on treats but should be placed in savings or to help pay the car payment.
We definitely didn’t see eye to eye and this wasn’t the only compromise we had to make. Here are five ways that helped me accept my husband’s differences and hopefully it can help you as well.
1. Communicate as a friend, not a parent.
When you are married, it is easy to talk to your spouse as you would your child. Condescending communication causes tension and fights. When you communicate with your spouse, talk to him or her as your friend. Don’t tell her things, but explain things in a respectful manner. Also, watch the tone of your voice. As adults, we often use an authoritative tone when we are telling another adult what to do. Be cautious of how you address and discuss problems with your spouse.
2. Look at your spouse’s point of view.
When differences arise between you and your spouse, sit back and observe. Find out why your spouse does what he does before you discuss a problem with him. I unfortunately never took the time to see why husband thought it was necessary to spend money each day on treats. But now after the many disagreements are over, I realize that daily treats is something he grew up with in his family. To him, it is something he is use to and I realized I shouldn’t take that completely away from him.
3. Use your spouse’s strengths to improve your weaknesses.
Each of us have a variety of strengths and weaknesses. They make us unique and bring several differences to a family. Instead of creating disagreements about these differences, see if you can turn them into strengths. For example, when my husband and I disagreed about treat money, his impulse buying and my crazy saving obsession were both weaknesses that needed to find middle ground. We sat down and created a budget that gave us a monthly allowance that we could spend on whatever we wanted. My husband used it for his treat money, I would save it and buy larger items such as clothes or shoes. We turned a weakness into our marriage into a large strength.
4. Forgive and move on.
You can’t let small differences stack up. You need to let things go and move on. If your spouse teases you and it hits a soft-spot, don’t dwell on it. If you’ve asked your spouse a dozen times to pick up his socks but he doesn’t, don’t let it affect your day. Marriage is about forgiveness. Your spouse isn’t perfect and neither are you.
5. Pray for assistance.
Sometimes large differences will come up. These differences can greatly impact a marriage and can even threaten to destroy it. Marriage is about finding compromise and you may need a little help. Make a habit of praying for your spouse. Ask for help in accepting each other’s differences and loving each other’s weaknesses and strengths. You will receive the power and the help you need to look past a difference, no matter how large it may appear.
Marriage can be tough. You are two unique individuals trying to combine your lives into one. Differences and disagreements will erupt, but when they do, I hope the above tips will help you accept them, just as they did for me.
Courtnie Erickson is a Utah State University graduate and a technology guru.