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Marriage
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Your Spouse Can Disagree with You without It Becoming a Love and Respect Issue

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Freedom To Disagree

Have you and your spouse given each other the freedom to disagree without everything escalating to a love and respect issue?

A wife wants the freedom to disagree with her husband without him feeling she is being disrespectful to him. Many times a wife wishes to give her opinion on what he is proposing, but he interprets her mere questioning as discourteous. She desires the freedom to give her input on his ideas, but will he give her that right? Or will he say something like, "There you go again, disrespecting my ideas"?

A husband wants the freedom to disagree with his wife without her interpreting him as being unloving toward her. For instance, many times a wife wants her husband to validate her feelings on some idea. But does he have the freedom to say, "But I don't feel everything you feel about this is valid"? Or, will she react, "You have no empathy for what I think. You have no idea how to love me"?

When the apostle Paul instructed husbands to love their wives in Ephesians 5, he said for them to do so “as Christ loved the church.” No one reading this would doubt Christ’s love for the church. But does His unconditional love for His church—His bride, as the Bible calls us—mean that He agrees with every choice we make and just smiles passively, allowing us to live however we please? No, of course not. He loves us so much in fact that He has sent His Holy Spirit to dwell inside us, one reason being to convict us of our wrongdoing when we make sinful choices. Yet we certainly never accuse Jesus of not knowing how to best love us!

Also, Paul’s instruction for the wife is to respect her husband. Can she not respect him so much that she wishes to complement his idea with her input and thoughts? Can she not respect him so much that she wishes to save him from what she views as impending doom, failure, or embarrassment? When Peter writes in 1 Peter 3:1–2, “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct,” there is an implication here that some husbands will not obey Scripture, yet their wives can still respect them. These wives did not go along with their husband’s disobedience, but instead respectfully disagreed with them.

Labeling as Unloving and Disrespectful

There is a huge difference in disagreeing and being unloving or disrespectful. Job’s wife did not merely disagree with her husband’s response to the unimaginable horrors in their life; she flat-out told him to “curse God and die!” David’s wife Michal did not merely disagree with the way her husband was celebrating the return of the ark to Jerusalem; she told him he was embarrassing himself and looking like a fool. 

“There is a huge difference in disagreeing and being unloving or disrespectful.”  

But Paul implies the husband can love his wife and still disagree. Peter implies the wife can respect her husband and still disagree. Does your spouse have the freedom to disagree with you without fear of being labeled “unloving” or “disrespectful”? 

Emerson Eggerichs, Ph.D.
Author, Speaker, Pastor

Questions to Consider

1.    How have you felt in instances when you did not feel you had the freedom to disagree with your spouse, lest you be labeled “unloving” or “disrespectful”? 

2.    Has there been a time when you fear you instilled the same feeling in your spouse—that they could not voice a differing opinion out of fear of being labeled “unloving” or “disrespectful”?

3.    When was a time when you and your spouse clearly disagreed on a matter, but opinions and input were still shared in a loving and respectful way? 

4.    What steps do you need to take to ensure your spouse knows he or she has the freedom to disagree with you without it escalating to an issue of love and respect?