April 12, 2024

Godly Wife: How do you Handle Disagreements?

This entry is part 6 of 18 in the series Godly Wife

Over this past weekend I had the privilege of attending the retirement party for the pastor from the church in which I grew up. In fact, he came to that church the year after I was born and has pastored that church for thirty years– something that you definitely don’t see every day.

Of the many testimonies and many slides (only one of which was I in!) one of them left me with some weird thoughts and questions. The associate pastor, who also performed Virtuous Blonde and myself’s wedding, talked about how well they got along and also about how once the Senior Pastor had told him to “Shut Up.” He said that they had had their disagreements, but that they got along well, and that he’d miss the Senior Pastor.

That brings to my question for you today, wives. When you get into a disagreement with your husband, how do you handle yourselves?

First, how do you think upon your husband in your heart? Remember that we are to “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” I believe that it is easy for all of us to get into a defensive position when we are in an argument– I mean, we wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for the fact that we disagree on something. But do you have the heart of Sarah, who thought of Abraham as “my lord” or do you think of him as one your children?

You see, it is much more important how your heart is thinking about him than how you act toward him. On the outside you may be polite, or sound respectful, but if your inner self is belittling him, resenting him, or wishing that you were with anyone else but him, you’re obviously not pleasing God– let alone helping your marriage. Remember Christ’s admonition that out of our heart we are defiled so it is in our heart that we must be guarded against thinking about our spouse in ways that would not please God.

So, how should you approach disagreements? If you heart should be thinking respectfully of him, then you have to respect his thinking. In order to do this, you have to approach him in such away that allows for you to be wrong– I know, it’s not possible that you are wrong, but it there just might be something you’ve missed!

One way to do this is to make sure to attack a problem rather than a person. Put the problem up for debate, talk up his side of the argument, try to see his points, and point out the strengths and weaknesses of both sides. You’re a helper, a partner, a friend, a lover– and you can’t be any of these if he is the enemy.

You all know your husbands– and I know that I have a tendency to be arrogant. I guess I’m pleading with you that since we have these tendencies– you have to be the “bigger man!”

Lastly, just like all things, we need to be prepared for these things in advance. How can we prepare to have a good heart in disagreements? By building each other up. Godly wife, you need to be magnifying your husbands strengths and godly traits. You need to be giving him the benefit of the doubt, and you must make the “declaration of war” rare.

If you practice building him up, and working at a stronger relationship you will find that when you disagree the time will be a good example to your children and something that glorifies God.

Question Idea taken from Questions for a Godly Wife

Series Navigation<< Godly Wife: How Do You Handle When He is Wrong?Godly Wife: How Do You Receive Correction? >>
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18 thoughts on “Godly Wife: How do you Handle Disagreements?

  1. I really liked this post because it made me think of how I handle a disagreement now compared to just a few years ago. Its very important to my husband to be right and have the last word. So, I let him. I pick my battles very carefully becuase he can get very passionate about certain topics, where as I don’t care to get into big discussions on anything. I don’t find it worth my effort. So, if a subject comes up for debate I listen carefully about what he has to say and 9 times out of 10 I let him know how smart I think his opinion is and thank him for his wisdom. Then he’ll have the last say about it, and I change the subject. The more I learn about respecting him and being submissive the more I learn that there are few topics that come up that I need/want to get excited about. When we first got married, I remember a lot of yelling from both of us. Thats no way to live.

  2. Meg, I think that we all have a long way to go in our thought life– it’s a practice that we all need to take up!

    Bethanie– thanks for the encouragement that it can be done!

  3. oh dear… Im in the dog house now. I know my heart isnt always in the best place even when we arent in an argument. I know that over time I will mature even more in this area, by the power of Christ within me. I am certainly better than I used to be, praise the Lord!

    Mrs. Meg Logan
    ps Bethanie, that is awesome testimony of Christ’s power at work in your life!

  4. It is an art – to have a profitable disagreement. It is not anything one just know how to do. We have so much baggage from our own lives prior to our marriages, we have often seen our parents quarreling in not the best way, we ourselves have been treated unjustly many times – and it is hard to stand in front of your partner and being attacked (this is how many people take a quarrel).
    I haven’t arrived yet in this respect. it is a difficult way.
    “One way to do this is to make sure to attack a problem rather than a person. Put the problem up for debate, talk up his side of the argument, try to see his points, and point out the strengths and weaknesses of both sides. You’re a helper, a partner, a friend, a lover– and you can’t be any of these if he is the enemy.” – Very true words.

  5. Ann, you’re right. I think we all have a tendency to take a difference of opinion personally. We internalize criticism as an attack to our ability to reason, and that is a big problem whether it’s in a church or as individuals.

    What can be done about it? Well, taking a step back from the problem definitely can help– take it up some other time. The other thing we can do– like Bethanie suggested– is to take up a posture that says “it really isn’t that big of a deal” and stop worrying about always being right– especially hard for guys, I think.

  6. Dh and I have been around several couples that bicker endlessly. Neither one will back down, etc, and if nothing else, it’s an eye opener to what a time waster it is. A hurtful one at that.

    Bethanie, thanks for sharing your story…that first year is such an adjustment. You are very blessed to be able to lay down your “rights” for those of your husband.

    MIn, I liked how you phrased that, “You all know your husbands– and I know that I have a tendency to be arrogant. I guess I’m pleading with you that since we have these tendencies– you have to be the “bigger man!” Putting it that way makes it easier to swallow!

  7. Im just wondering why its the wife’s responsibility to manage an argument. I may be wrong but this seems sexist, maybe unitentionally, but never the less it is. How come this wasn’t directed at both man and woman, would not the tactics for handling a disagreement, be similiar for both?

    Or perhaps you would have us husbands await our wives to bring reason, understanding and forgiveness, while we can cling to our stubborness and error. Perhaps you should encourage both sides to better their respective views for their spouse. Women should not be under obligation (by you) to submit to their husbands regardless of his error. A successful marriage drives on a two way street of colaboration, paved with care and understanding from both, not the one way take-what-he-gives you-and-love-him-anyway-street.


  8. Rev., in all due fairness, Min is dealing with various aspects of married life one at a time. This time he took up this aspect, and if you read only this article, you may come to the conclusions that you have presented. But this is not the whole picture, by any standard.
    It is impossible to write about everything every time, if you know what I mean.

  9. Actually, Rev, I believe that the New Testament is pretty clear that both parties involved in offenses are directed at both partners. In fact, in Godly Husband: Are You Pro-Active? I tell the husbands that, as the leader of their home, they need to be the ones that address disagreements. It really is a strategy where someone must address it.

    Thanks for asking the question.

  10. I guess I like being “sexist” then. I should submit to my husband at all times-even if he’s wrong. The thing is, its not my place to judge whether he is supposedly “wrong” or not. That God’s job, and I wouldn’t want it.
    A two way street to me-is when your going in different directions. I’d rather be following behind my husband on a one way street any day.

  11. When this kind of subject comes up, I always think of the preacher (can’t remeber where he was based) that told a woman she should go back to her husband who was sexualy abusing her children.

    While this does not specificaly pertain to the topic at hand I always think of relationships like the one above. Should the wife follow the bible and yeild to the husband by letting him rape her children or should she go against the bible and her husband’s leadership by leaving him.

    Food for thought. You can’t allways trust a husband to make the right decisions or even make acceptably wrong ones.

  12. Amen, Bethanie, I liked how you worded that “two-way street” definition.

    I agree that we submit to our husbands–even when they’re wrong…but only if it’s not causing us to sin or to be hurt in some way. You and I, Bethanie, know that our husbands would never put us in harms way or ask us to sin…to submit to these men, at the most, means we have to swallow our arrogance and wall ourselves against bitterness. Sometimes it means doing something that we feel may be financially ill-advised, or that might hurt the feelings of our extended family. But once you’re married, your dh is your #1 priority. I appreciate that my hubby wants my input on family decisions, but still I often defer to him after sharing my thoughts.

    Sowing seeds of love, weeding out the rest. It not only makes our husband’s life easier, it grows us more like Jesus. Submission is responding to hard things in a Christ-like way, because you’re wanting to be obedient to scripture and you know it’s for the greater good.

    If someone is going to be harmed by submitting (to physical abuse, etc) that is a different subject entirely.

  13. Loc, you bring up a sad scenario, and the saddest part is that I’m sure that it probably happens. In this case, I’m conflicted. I could never recommend that the woman return to the house as it is currently configured. Certainly to send her back to a place where there’s a known problem is wrong. What must happen, however, is that this husband must be disciplined. He must be confronted with the sin that he is in. In the case of minors, he should probably be jailed. ( Which would solve the “living in the same house with them.” )

    God never wants us to tolerate someone who is sinning– but for us to confront sin with love, to pray for those that use us, etc. I can understand the logic of the pastor that you mention, but if that pastor didn’t go with that wife back to the house and confront that dad then the pastor was wrong.

  14. I’m wondering what a woman should do according to the Bible. Lets take a less extreme case were it is not punishable by the law but the woman and the children are still in danger. Say the husband has become a acholic, he has yet to get phyiscaly abusive, but from the way he is acting it is just around the corner. Should the woman stay with her children in the dangerouse situtation and pray for change, should she leave with the children and pray that someday it may be safe to come back, should she send the children to a relative and stay with the husband while praying for him, or should she do something entirely diffrent?

  15. In regards to your last question, Loc, I’ve known two Christian women in the above situation. The husband drank/was an alcoholic, got a little too physical (never to the point of actually hurting them but very close). Most of the damage was verbal. In both cases the wives stayed put. The children were never hurt physically, though the emotional damage is devastating.

    I believe a Christian wife should seek first and foremost godly counsel from someone she trusts and respects. It goes without saying that she should pray that God show her what to do. If, as you say, she knows she is in danger (perhaps her husband has threatened her, or thrown things at her…come close but not actually caused physical damage) then I think she and her children should seek somewhere safe to stay.

    However, I think many men have anger issues unrelated to alcohol that make them just as dangerous and a woman can’t know when to expect an outburst, so is she to live in fear and trembling? At some point she has to trust God and work at her marriage. And hope for the best till she can’t anymore. Divorce isn’t an option, except for adultery, for the Christian. Separation is okay, but hopefully reconciliation would always be the future goal.

    One of the women I mentioned ended up getting a divorce after years of alcoholic emotional abuse, but she’d also found out her dh had been adulterous for years so for her, that was her way out. The other woman’s husband gave it up. He’s been sober for over a decade now and they have a great marriage.

  16. The thing is, its not my place to judge whether he is supposedly “wrong” or not.

    Since when did being a christian woman mean that you can have no opinion or mind of your own? Relationships function well out of respect and love for one another, not out of whether the wife is doing the best job submitting, or the if the husband is doing the best job of leading. Neither will ever be doing that perfectly.

    Honest, open, kind communication is never wrong. The Bible does not teach that there cannot be disagreements between a husband and wife. The key is how those disagreements are handled.

  17. I think you make a good point, Terri, but I also appreciate where Bethanie is coming from. I believe it’s right and natural for everyone to have an opinion, but I think the problem in marriages becomes instead of two people working together for a common goal it can devolve into two people who both believe that they have the only right answer. In that circumstance, we should refrain from judging whether a spouse is wrong, and, instead, try to see their point of view.

    There does have to be some kind of structure, though, that says “in the end, this is how we will go.”

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