Somebody was asking about disagreements and I had some stuff I wanted to talk about. While I dimly remember us having a lot of arguments over the years, looking back, I think that a lot were over stuff that didn’t matter, or at least the heat generated was disproportionate to the importance of the issue. If nothing is on fire, there’s a lot to be said for backburnering a controversial issue. It is very likely that a compromise will materialize with time and thought. It might be possible to go 50/50, take turns, or one or both may decide they like the other person’s idea. It might turn out that you didn’t even actually understand what your spouse meant.
Here are some real life examples.
–When husband and I got married and started living together, we realized that I was the neat freak and he was the slob. I wanted everything perfect while he never thought it was time to clean. Since we’ve had kids, I’ve realized that neither of us had reasonable standards, but we were able to meet in the middle.
–In my experience, the major issue is not so much submitting to one’s spouse, but submitting to reality. Over the years, that’s been true of most financial issues and some other issues. Years ago, I had my heart set on a $10k a year preschool. We lived in an area where that was normal, but the reality was we couldn’t afford it. Husband said no and I found a city co-op that cost under $150 a month.
It took me nearly a decade into our marriage to learn about money management. I was the spender at our house, but my husband didn’t have any financial plan beyond “don’t spend money.” Fortunately, I learned about Dave Ramsey, insisted that we do a budget every month, and off we went! We have done a monthly budget for 10 years and have made a lot of progress. Interestingly, the cure for my spending issues turned out to be involving me more in the finances, not less. Again, it was not so much a question of submitting to my husband, but submitting to the reality that money is finite.
Most recently, both my husband and I have been dealing with the fact that now that our youngest child is at the big kids’ school three days a week, our tuition costs are truly nightmarish. Our emergency fund is dwindling and we have been eating into it at a rate of $300-500 a month. We both agree that we need to suck it up and keep the kids in school (that wasn’t even on the table), but we are in the process of cutting expenses and trying to boost income in order to cover tuition and we finally managed to create a December budget that has us in the black after several months in the red. This is not a pleasant process but–again–it’s us submitting to reality.
As Sheila Wray Gregoire points out, when the wife has to submit to the husband, it’s because the wife doesn’t agree with her husband. That’s a cop-out. If you put in the time and the work, it should be possible to wind up on the same page. What is the point of having her do what he says if she doesn’t see reality the way he does? It’s a HUGE problem if your spouse isn’t living in the real world–a much bigger problem than just disagreeing about particular decisions.