Handling Differences of Opinion In a Relationship

As of today I’ve been married about 10 1/2 years. This does not make me an expert on marriage or relationships. However, there’s a few things I’ve picked up over the years that I believe have helped my marriage last this long. To me, one of life’s greatest treasures is a relationship with a loved one where both people respect and love each other.

Many of you are in a relationship or married. The majority of the rest of you are probably looking for someone to be in a relationship with. This is just a hunch and of course I could be wrong. But I think most of us need a fulfilling relationship where we feel connected with another. We’ll often go to great lengths (sometimes to our detriment) to make this happen.

My wife Heidi and I agree on many things. We believe that this life is a time to grow, learn, and be challenged. We believe in being kind and compassionate. We love our family and children. But there are subjects we have different opinions on. It is these differences of opinion that I believe will make or break any relationship.

Differences of opinion about money

For instance, we don’t completely agree about what money should be used for. While we are both frugal with our funds, there may be items that each of us believe we should purchase, but the other doesn’t agree with. My initial reaction whenever Heidi presents me with something she thinks we should get is to say “NO” right away.

That usually creates distance between us. Because I didn’t take the time to soak in what she was saying and I reverted to my scrooge, don’t spend a dime ways, I believe it is an insult to her when I don’t take time to think and debate what she puts on the table. Imagine you were asking someone with the intention of getting their ideas and opinions and all they said was “NO”. How would that make you feel?

After having a conversation for a few minutes, if I’ve really given it careful thought, I just might change my mind. Last year Heidi wanted to get a heater for a tent we were taking camping. I said “NO” in my most grumpy voice, but later I thought about it and decided we should do it so we didn’t freeze at night. It turned out to be the right thing to do as the nights were freezing cold. Could we have solved it by bringing more blankets? Maybe – but the point is her solution worked and not giving it a chance would have robbed of us warmth.

Differences of opinion about religion

One of the biggest differences of opinion Heidi and I have is in regards to religion. We both share common ground in that we believe this life is a time to learn and grow. We both believe that after this life something awaits us based on what we did here on Earth. But after that, we branch out in difference directions. Heidi is a very faithful Mormon. I consider myself having an open mind to all possibilities, whether it be Mormonism, Evolution, or the human species ultimately becoming Gods through technological progression.

I have to be very careful about this one. Heidi has made it clear that she needs a husband who is religious. Were I to just say “NO” to that and do my own thing, without considering her desires and opinions, she’d probably walk out on me eventually. By taking a careful step back and examining my own beliefs and feelings, I take the common ground between us and apply that in a “religious” way. I don’t have to be a zealot, but I must take what we both believe and apply that.

This means I must go to church when I can and support her in her church activities. It means I should take time to teach proper values to our children. It means being open to her when she shares why she believes the way she does and seeing religion from her perspective. It doesn’t mean I have to change my mind – but it does mean I need to be considerate and not let stubbornness or emotion block reasoning.

Differences of opinion about love and sex

From what I can tell, this seems to be one of the friction points between men and women in relationships and marriage. In a nut shell, most guys want more sex and most women want more intimacy. I think that’s a fair statement – obviously not true in all cases, but I’d put my bet on it being true more often that not.

When I was first married to Heidi, I had a “Me Me Me” attitude. If we were not having “our alone time” together according to a frequency in my mind, I thought something was wrong and would think our marriage was in trouble. Down the road over 10 years, I see it differently. I see it just like money and religion between us. Each of us has common ground with them. Each of us has opinions that don’t mesh with each other. In order for our marriage to work, I must view love and sex in terms of our common ground.

So what is the common ground? We both believe we need to be close. We both believe in being fit and healthy. We don’t agree on the amount of “alone time” we should have together. My frequency is more often than Heidi’s. But this is just the areas we don’t have the same opinion about. Just like with money and religion. But I can take the common ground and apply that. It also certainly helps as a husband if I take time with the kids, help around the house, and give Heidi time alone to do what she wants. Those three things create more common ground in this area I’ve found.

Conclusion

To me, relationships are all about living in the common ground between partners. If that common ground can be increased in size between the partners, so much the better. Increasing that common ground takes sacrifice and compromise on both partners behalf. But after 10 years of marriage, I can honestly say that what is going on between Heidi and I is much better even than our first years of marriage (the honeymoon stage). I look forward to spending many more years with her and seeing what each of us can become and accomplish.

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5 thoughts on “Handling Differences of Opinion In a Relationship

  1. What a beautiful family you have Jeremy! Your ability for self appraisal and introspection is so impressive. In my opinion, it is this ability that allows us to rise above the types of differences in relationships you speak of here.

    How wonderful that you and your wife have been able to have a meeting of minds on something as potentially dividing as religious belief. If you can navigate your way successfully through that one, I’d say the rest is a piece of cake!

    Congratulations on your success! It’s always such a pleasure to read your articles…particularly when you offer such a personal, up close peek into what lies behind your secrets for success.

  2. Hi Faye. Thanks for sharing your words of encouragement as always. I think recognizing our differences has been one of the ways we have grown closer in the later years – and being willing to talk about them and build on our common beliefs :)

  3. My boyfriend and I right now were trying to find our common ground.I came from the other part of the world and spent pretty much 2/3 of my life in a different culture while he spent all his life here in America. We want our relationship to grow but we are still trying to figure out our common ground.

    1. Hi Marie – it takes time to find the common ground. But if you can focus on that and use it as the basis for your relationship, it has a good chance to flourish.

      As for the non-common ground, it is still important to talk about and evaluate – you don’t want to ignore the differences.

  4. I and my love have lots of differences when it comes down to religious beliefs. I support all religions and have views on raising our children to love and respect other religions. Not that he doesn’t, but he’s a staunch Hindu follower. I’m a Hindu as well. But I have a different mindset unlike him. What can we do to help us rise above our differences. We are in a position where we both don’t seem to give up on our opinions.

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