My husband and I had a disagreement this past Sunday. It’s been almost a week, and it’s still on my mind. It wasn’t a fight or an argument, just a general disagreement on a relatively inconsequential subject. But it got me thinking; Is is okay to disagree with your spouse?
Our church had a guest speaker on Sunday that I found difficult to follow and quite boring, frankly. But his message has inspired spirited conversation and continued thought so I suppose he would be considered an effective speaker? I can’t even remember what his message was about, but during the service he brought up the idea of a mentor. He stated that aside from Jesus Christ, the person who had the greatest effect on his life was an author, one that he had never met. This author was a business mogul of some type that had authored 39 books before his death. Now, I’m sure this guy had some great stuff to say and had some wisdom to impart (Aha! Wisdom, that was part of the message…I think) but to state that a person you HAD NEVER MET was the greatest mentor in your life? That seems absurd to me. And I told my husband so. During church. And I could hear my mother shushing me from 100 miles away and 20 years ago.
The discussion that ensued and where we disagree is the definition or perhaps, personal translation, of a mentor. To me, a mentor MUST be a personal relationship. In order for someone to mentor you, they have to know the areas in which you struggle or need guidance, then as a mentor, they impart their knowledge or wisdom on the subject. There HAS to be a conversation that takes place. It’s a 2-way street and I don’t see any way around that. To me, it parallels a teaching relationship. In order for someone to be an effective teacher, they must know their student. Know their struggles and be willing to adjust their teaching to effectively teach THAT student. A mentorship is just a magnified teaching relationship and is usually geared towards very personal struggles. So in my mind, it only makes sense that your mentor KNOWS you. And that you KNOW them. They can’t effectively teach you or mentor you unless they KNOW you. Get it? Good.
The Hubs disagrees. In fact, he claims one of his mentors to be an author, business mogul and talk show host. A person he’s never actually met. This is ridiculous. And I told him so. And of course I’m going to fight him on it, because, SURPRISE!, I like to be right. “No,” I said to him, ” that’s a ROLE-MODEL. You don’t actually know this guy. You know the character he plays on the radio, on Twitter and Facebook, but you’ve never actually met him so you don’t actually know that you’d want this guy to be your mentor. What if he’s mean to his wife? Or his kids? What if he’s only selling his ideas and doesn’t truly believe in them? You can’t know that without having an actual relationship with him. If you want to use him as a role-model, fine, he has great ideas and as a family we’ve benefitted from his teachings, but to state he’s your mentor isn’t right.” He disagreed and that was kind of the end of the subject. Except it wasn’t. It left me with the kind of discomfort that makes you twist up your face and squirm in your seat. So he threw me a bone and agreed with me that for the guest speaker to state someone he’d never met was the biggest mentor in his life, well, that part WAS absurd.
It was an interesting dynamic to watch and to think about. I’m right, he’s right, I’m wrong, he’s wrong, ick, this doesn’t feel good so let’s compromise…kind of…but not really. The argument itself isn’t what I’ve been thinking about this week. I know I’m right ( 🙂 )…but the fact that a simple disagreement made us so uncomfortable, well, there’s something to chew on. The truth is, we agree on pretty much everything. Maybe it’s because we’ve been together forever (literally) and I’m pretty confident we will morph into a single person at some point in our lives. As we’ve grown we’ve developed the same likes and dislikes. Except my love for Disco. He still hates it. I have undeniable proof that was obtained only a few weeks ago. We agree on everything from politics (bet ya can’t guess which side of the aisle I’m on!), to money handling, to child rearing to marriage being a forever committment. And honestly, shouldn’t you agree on pretty much everything in order for the relationship to work? If you’re constantly butting heads because you just flat-out have personality conflicts that’s not a relationship I want any part of. And if it’s going to be difficult for society to distinguish you from someone else, shouldn’t that person be your spouse? It shouldn’t be your best friend. Or your sister. Or your brother. That makes your spouse the odd-man/woman out. That’s not good. Doesn’t it make you some sort of power-couple? Doesn’t that make your relationship stronger somehow? Too often people say, “It’s okay to disagree.” or “We’ll just agree to disagree.” Aren’t you supposed to be a unified front as a married couple?
So back to my original question, Is it okay to disagree with your spouse? I’m really not sure. It never feels good, to disagree, but disagreements lead to discussions, and discussions lead to thoughts. And I’d much rather discuss thoughts than watch another episode of the Real Housewives. Most of the time…