What to do When You and Your Spouse Want Different Things

What to do When You and Your Spouse Want Different Things

What to do When You and Your Spouse Want Different Things

Getting on the same page about significant issues can feel impossible, even in the strongest marriages. For example, it is normal for spouses to have different beliefs, dreams, or ideas on balancing personal and professional commitments, navigating the union, whether and when you have kids, managing finances, and where to live. And that only names a few of the differences you may face.

Even minor disagreements about social media or household chores can be tough to resolve. Fortunately, you can use strategies to resolve even the most challenging differences. Our experts on in-home marriage therapy in Orlando recommend these tips for navigating moments when you and your spouse want different things:

Improve your communication skills

Rethinking how you communicate may be the best way to begin getting on the same page with your spouse. There should not be defensiveness and judgment in compassionate conversations. Just because your spouse sees things differently does not mean you have done something wrong-it means they experienced and felt something. Next time your conversation becomes difficult regarding a significant disagreement, try being prepared with a few healthy practices:

  • Use a safe word for when either of you needs a break from the conversation. For example, if you need a time-out, you might agree to say “banana.”
  • Remain connected with critical gestures like nodding, holding hands, or making eye contact to keep you feeling like a team instead of adversaries. Put away electronic devices during important conversations.
  • Use ‘I’ statements to discuss your perspective, like “I felt rejected when you stayed out all night with your friends,” instead of “You rejected me by staying out all night with your friends.” This can help the conversation be more productive and avoid the feeling that you are placing blame or accusing them.
  • Listen actively by acknowledging your spouse’s concerns by asking clarifying questions (“Can you tell me more about why your job is causing you so much stress right now.”) or by repeating what they have expressed to you (“I am hearing that it is important to you that we focus on saving money for a vacation right now.”)

Label the problem

With the above communication skills in mind, make time to identify the issue you disagree on clearly. Defining the problem can be helpful, especially if you have not addressed the issue directly in the past. For example, your spouse may know that you disagree on when to have children, but you may have never said directly: "You would love to have a baby as soon as possible, and I would prefer to wait until I am more established in my career. I wonder how we can compromise and still meet both of our needs." Begin by recognizing and labeling the specific issue, and agree from the start that you are both committed to resolving the problem. You will often discover that even seemingly impossible situations feel easier to manage.

Understand your spouse’s perspective

Once you have labeled the problem, it is helpful to gather details that may be relevant for a solution. Act like detectives trying to solve a big case and interview each other about your perspectives. Each person should be allowed the opportunity to present their point of view without interruption, and you should both have the chance to ask any questions you have. Then work closely to identify what you don’t know and make a plan to find that information. For example, if you are discussing whether to have kids now and you want to be financially prepared, you might realize that you do not have all of the information available on your current financial status or the cost of raising children in your location. Determine who will research what and set a time to come together and discuss what you have learned.

Follow these strategies for addressing the problem when you and your spouse want different things. And when you cannot resolve the issue on your own, in-home marriage therapy in Orlando can help. Call us today for more information.

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Heather Oller

Heather Oller is a licensed Orlando therapist at Orlando Thrive Therapy, Coaching & Counseling who specializes in counseling Orlando couples, individuals, and families who are seeking changes in their lives. She has been a mental health professional for over 17 years and is a practicing Orlando counselor that specializes in conflict resolution for couples. You can contact her for an appointment or call 407-592-8997 for more information.