Living with my husband for almost two years now has made one thing clear: there are two points of view to everything! What a wake-up call.
Growing up, you realize that your opinion differ from your parents’. Once you are a grown up, you realize that your opinions differ from your friends’. You might ask for advice from time to time but it’s always you who decides what’s right.It is you who makes the final call. Once you’re married, and you reach a point of disagreement, the subsequent actions are no longer your call.
Conflict happens in marriage when such inevitable disagreements emerge. It is perfectly normal to think that you are right all the time. You think and act in a certain way for a reason. You feel that it is obvious what is right and what is wrong. At least that is how I felt when I made up the guest list for our upcoming party. I made sure to include both his friends and mine. I thought for sure that I covered everyone we cared about. Just as I felt that I had done everything right and that it was the time to send out the invites, my husband got a glimpse of the invitees.
- Husband: “Are you serious? I don’t want Bill! And where are Jim and Simon? You haven’t included any of my friends!”
Wife: “What are you talking about? You hardly ever talk to Jim and Simon and you know that I don’t get along with their wives! And, of course, I invited Bill. Bill is a good friend of yours.”
Husband: “Bill is not a good friend and he’s too clingy. I don’t want him at the party. And where are my other friends?”
WIfe: “Well, what about Karla and Ken and Ben and Shelly? Those are your friends!”
Husband: “No, those are your friends. Do we really need to invite Ben and Smelly? I mean Shelly?”
Wife: “Yes, we do. And, by the way, those are our mutual friends. It doesn’t matter that I knew them first. I don’t want those friends of yours who aren’t going to mesh with my friends. I want everyone to mesh well.”
Husband: “Then don’t invite Bill or Ben and Smelly. They don’t mesh with anyone. Can we invite Jim and Simon instead?”
Wife, husband, wife, husband, and on and on and on….
This conversation could’ve gone on for days.
I assumed that my friends were his friends too. He’d known them for a long time and they got along great. To my husband, our mutual friends didn’t count. I knew them first and, to him, they were always going to be more my friends than his.
We were both trying to point out the obvious. But how could our ideas be so obviously different? Turned out nothing was obvious to either of us. I thought that agreeing with him meant that I had to admit I was wrong and I didn’t feel that I was wrong. Then I realized that it wasn’t a matter of right and wrong. It was a matter of getting to a decision that we both could appreciate. So I agreed to not invite some of my friends to make room for his. I wasn’t entirely happy about it but I was comfortable.
The lesson I’m learning every day is that we have to make the call on most things together. That forces us to look for solutions that are equally satisfying to both of us. No matter how well you know your partner, you can’t assume that you know what they want at every single moment in time.
Sometimes you may never agree with your partner’s point of view. In those cases, all you can do is take turns winning.
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