Interfaith Marriages

How we handle disagreements in our marriages makes all the difference

The ultimate goal in the marriage is happiness and peace for both, and if they have to fight, assert and compromise to get there, it is a part of it and must be appreciated.

Mike Ghouse 

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Courtesy : Newton Citizen

By Hal Brady

Whenever I do pre-marital counseling, I usually include the following: role expectations and whether or not they are realistic; a good theology of marriage; what the psychologists and sociologists say about marriage; the importance of communication; the necessity of commitment; and how to deal with conflict or disagreement.

Unless one of the marriage partners is a non-thinking robot, every marriage has disagreements. The only question is how we handle it.

Hear me now. Whether it’s in marriage, business, sports, politics, family life, religion, international affairs or personal relationships, every life situation has disagreements. Again, the important thing is how we deal with it. So, how do we deal with disagreements?

First, we can seek to understand the other person’s point of view. There can be no reconciliation if we do not seek to understand the other person’s point of view. And this understanding will always begin with listening.

A mother and her small daughter were looking at dolls in a department store one day. “What does it do?” the child would ask about each doll. The mother would answer, “it walks” or “it talks” or “it sleeps” or “it cries.”

The dolls were rather expensive, so the mother tried to direct her little girl’s attention toward an ordinary doll that was more reasonably priced. “But does it do anything?” the child asked. “Oh, yes,” the mother replied. ” It does one of the best things of all — it listens.” The little girl eagerly reached for that doll. And so do we.

In being open to another person’s point of view, it has been said that there are three necessary qualities that don’t come easily: honesty, objectivity and humility. We can seek to understand the other person’s point of view.

Second , we can disagree without being disagreeable. As a professor friend put it in a major address at the 17th World Methodist Conference held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, “Build a bridge and get over it.” You know, it’s amazing how many people have trouble getting over some perceived past injustice. They would rather keep themselves and others miserable than build a bridge and get over it.

It’s at this point that Samuel Johnson gives us one of the most liberating sentences he ever wrote: “Kindness is in our power, fondness is not. Kindness or charity is not felt, but willed. Kindness or charity is not passion or affection or friendship, but an attitude of unshakable and unwavered good will to others, whether we like them or not.”

Third, we can look carefully for a way of compromise. Some people look at compromise as a weak and cowardly thing. They mistakenly think that it has something to do with a lack of backbone.

Now, to be sure, there is a time to hold the line. We should never compromise sacred truth, principles or convictions. But simply to be unbending is another thing altogether.

In a recent issue of “The Christian Science Monitor Weekly,” Sarah Binder, professor of political science at George Washington University, was writing about restoring trust in Congress. She wrote, “What really turns off people about Congress is watching the sausage being made and all the reporting of bickering. People wonder why members of Congress can’t talk like reasonable people.”

I think Sarah Binder is talking about the need of members of Congress to find ways of compromise for the good of the nation and world. At any rate, compromise is a good way to deal with disagreement.

Fourth, we can trust that God can use everything, even our disagreements, for His purposes. In the narthex of the Cathedral of Belmont Abby near Charlotte, N.C., there is a baptismal font mounted on a big rock. The inscription reads: “From this stone, on which persons were sold into slavery, they now are baptized into freedom.” Only God can do that. God can transform any dead-end situation into a powerful force for good.

The Rev. Hal Brady is an ordained United Methodist minister and executive director of Hal Brady Ministries, based in Atlanta. You can watch him preach every week on the Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasting TV channel Thursdays at 8 p.m. For more information, visit or email ha*@ha****************.com.

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