Changing Disagreements Into Agreements

Numbers 13:50, 14: 1-8

“A marriage based on full confidence, based on complete and unqualified frankness on both sides; they are not keeping anything back; there's no deception underneath it all. If I might so put it, it's an agreement for the mutual forgiveness of sin.” ~ Henrik Ibsen

A couple that had been married for 15 years began having more disagreements than usual. Even though there was tension and pressure, they were committed to making their marriage work and agreed on an idea the wife had presented.

For one month they were to drop a slip of paper in a "Fault" box. The boxes would provide a place to let the other know about daily irritations. They would continue dropping the “fault” papers in the box until the end of the month. They would then open the box and read them so they could work on those things to make the other happy.

The wife diligently kept putting those notes of papers in the box: "leaving the jelly top off the jar," "wet towels on the shower floor," "dirty socks not in hamper," on and on until the end of the month.

Finally, at the end of the month at a dinner, they exchanged boxes. The husband reflected on what he had done wrong. He kept quiet and was determined to do whatever he could to please his wife.

Then the wife opened her box and began reading. Tears began to flood her eyes and fall down her cheeks. She couldn’t stop crying. All the slips that the husband had written said the same thing. The message on each and every slip was "I love you!" While the wife chose to focus on the negative things, the husband chose to focus on the good and positive things.

All about the results

Yet the same principle applies for positive results. If you focus on the positive, you will pursue the positive until you find it and eat the fruit of it.

In Numbers 13:50, 14: 1-8, we see the story of Moses and the twelve spies sent to bring back a report of the Promised Land.

Ten came back with an "evil" report, basically stating that although it was indeed a good land that flowed with milk and honey and sustenance, the enemies were too large to conquer; they were "giants" and God's people were merely "grasshoppers."

But two, Joshua and Caleb came back with the other ten but had a different report. "We can take them and the land – because God promised it to us!"

The question we often ask is this: "Who's report was right? The ten negative, or the two positive?"

The answer might surprise many... but it's both!


It should come as no surprise, that what you focus on the most, you eventually become like or will attach yourself to.

If you focus on the negative, you will attract the negative. If you speak, think and proclaim the negative, then you will have negative. It falls in line with the “law of attraction” to a great degree. Whatever your focus is on, that will determine your end result.

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7 -KJV)

Understanding disagreements

When we speak of disagreements, we are not talking about differences. Differences and disagreements are two totally different dynamics within a relationship.

Your differences are what makes you, you. It adds healthy flavor to your marriage and helps to combine and complete both individuals as a couple.

However, disagreements are when you have not come to a full resolve of what you are trying to accomplish, in a manner that benefits both of you; together.

If of course when each person does not see eye to eye about something, this automatically takes on the form of a potential disagreement. Unless, both take time to truly understand what the other is saying and wanting.

It's not that just because one person likes soup and the other doesn't, that they both must eat soup! But it is in our best interest as a married couple to find what we CAN agree on.

On related story was of a couple that went to see a movie. The husband loved it; it was full of action, special effects, etc. but the wife didn't really care for it.

Normally when they saw a movie they didn't agree on, the wife would say how she didn't like it, and the husband would feel personally responsible for her "waste of time" which brought his esteem and self worth to a low point.

But this time, after the movie he asked how she liked it, and instead of her normal response, she wisely explained specific parts of the movie that she did like. She found little things that she could focus positively on to bring a common ground in the midst and avoid a disagreement.

Your ultimate goal is not to have your way and allow selfishness to be your motivating factor, but to please your partner. That is love. That is marriage. You please your partner, and your partner pleases you. That’s how it is supposed to work in a healthy marriage.

A few tips to help

They say, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." In fact, we believe more than that.

1. Prevention.
The first line of defense towards avoiding disagreements or misunderstandings is preventative maintenance.

If you can learn the fine art of speaking and listening to a point where the destructive filters of our past, the flesh and the enemy are not a hinderance anymore, then there is very little that cannot be discussed and both come to a full resolute understand... and agreement.

2. Try cutting “disagreements” out of your vocabulary.
When in a misunderstanding, instead of saying you’re having a “disagreement”, trying saying that you are having an “agreement”. You’ll instantly lose some tension, and hopefully re-affirm to yourself that your main goal is to be in agreement.

When you learn how to keep and maintain your focus on to having “agreements”, you both can spend more quality time together.

3. Learn to express without offending.
It's not just opening up and expressing yourself... it's "how" you express yourself.
We tell our daughter, "Communication is not only what you say, it's what, when and HOW you say it."

Remember, if you can force yourself to see a positive “end result”, you will eventually get there! And even better still, as you continually learn how to master this perspective, the time period of turning disagreements into agreements gradually becomes less and less! You will eventually start to see times where both of you have literally defused a potential misunderstanding and you won’t’ even know where it went!

Mike and Trisha Fox are Christian marriage coaches and authors of Marriage For Today: A Practical Guide for Couples. To find out more visit: