Question:

I have written to you before and you really helped me with your advice and I am in need of it again, as I really don't have anyone I can talk to about this problem.

I was married for over twenty years to my late husband. We had a wonderful and blessed life raising two sons. We had a really great marriage, never arguing over anything in all those years. We just seemed to agree on things, and we loved each other so much. We attended church regularly and were very involved. When he died, I was alone for a number of years and met my present husband, whom I've been married to for several years.

This marriage is totally different. He loves me, but his ways are strange sometimes. He comes from a different religious background and I am finding more and more things about him that I just don't like. I almost can't stand to be around him sometimes. We seem to just push each other's buttons, and we argue a lot. I am not used to this kind of relationship. I am praying daily over this, and I can't seem to be able to handle it. I know that the marriage cannot be broken. I know this isn't an option, but I am almost having a breakdown of sorts. He has just recently in the past few months, started going to church with me, so of course this is good.

If you could offer something that maybe I am not seeing or hearing, I would appreciate it. He was alone for several decades after a divorce. Maybe he just doesn't know how to be a husband?


Answer:

When you have multiple children, you realize that every person is unique in their own way. I'm sorry you lost your husband. That your new husband is just not the same would be expected. Both of you have spent the majority of your lives doing things in certain ways and merging those two different lives into one can be really challenging.

It is tempting to try and make the other person conform to your own expectations, but that isn't always possible. "If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men" (Romans 12:18). You can't stop his actions, but you can control your own reactions. If you find yourself arguing too much and pushing his hot-buttons, then begin by stopping. Typically the pushing of hot-buttons is to get back at the other person. He irritates you so you feel the need to irritate him back. "Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men" (Romans 12:17). Arguing typically comes when you don't feel you are in control of the situation, and often you are trying to control what cannot be controlled.

I'm not saying that you have to give in when he is in the wrong, but you don't have to argue about the things you disagree about. It is because two people live together in familiarity that they treat each other with less politeness than they would give a stranger. Be polite. Be kind. "Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one" (Colossians 4:6). If something doesn't really matter, then don't stand it the way just because it isn't what you want. Limit the strong disagreements over things that really matter, and often you'll find that those points are fewer than you might expect.

You might not be able to change him, but it doesn't mean you have to become like him. You can take the higher road and then encourage him to join you there.