Agree to Agree

Written by Carl & Yolanda Bennett

Six Foundations of Agreement

At the heart of conflict is "disagreement" which is a failure to agree. Agreement is the way that a husband and wife become one in flesh. One Word of God, one agreement, one vow, and one set of principles on which the marriage functions and one spouse loved in faithfulness.

We believe that if you want to have a great marriage that "endures with joy" these six basic foundation stones of agreement should be actively in place:

• An agreement to build the marriage on God's Word.
• An agreement to leave the past behind.
• An ongoing agreement to "work" on the marriage.
• An agreement that both husband and wife need to "change."
• An agreement to disagree.
• An agreement to give 100 percent.

Let's take a look at each of these agreements more closely.

An agreement to build the marriage on God's Word

If you will make a decision to do what the Bible tells you to do, the focus will be on yourself and on your fulfilling or not fulfilling your proper God-given role as a husband or wife, rather than on what your spouse is or isn't doing.

Make a decision to do what the Bible says to do from this day forward. Don't turn to the left or right, regardless of what other people say to you.

CONFESSION: From this day on, I will make a conscience effort to do what the bible tells me to do and I will focus on myself and learn how to perform my God-given role in my marriage.  I will be more considerate to my spouse and not point the finger.

An agreement to leave the past behind

Separate yourself from expectations based upon past perfor­mance and behavior. Choose to believe for a godly relationship based upon godly principles. Choose to be a godly person in the marriage relationship; choose to do things God's way. Then, antici­pate that your spouse also will choose to be a godly person who will do things God's way.

Those who live in fear or dread, as well as those who live in a constant state of comparison, never find genuine happiness with the person who is in the "now" of their lives. They are always looking over their shoulders at what once was, or they are looking  to the side to see what "might be" or "might have been" with another person. 

An agreement to "Work" on the marriage

In today's society, people simply aren't seriously willing to work on their marriage.
  • They'll work on their car.
  • They'll work on their house.
  • They'll work on their career.
  • They'll work on their wardrobe.
  • They'll work at their ministry for the Lord.
  • They'll work out at the gym.
In the end, relationships are the only eternal thing worth work­ing on! We always need to be working on our relationship with the Lord. We always need to be working on our relationship with our spouse.  We always need to be working on our relationships with friends and those with whom we worship; after all, these fellow saints are going to be people we live with forever! We always need to be working on our relationships with people whom we are trying to influence for Christ.

What does it mean to work on the relationship

It means you spend time talking to that person and being with that person. It means you make the effort to get to know the person-to know their likes and dislikes, their desires and their fears, their past accomplishments and their future goals. It means you spend some money-going on dates, having lunch or dinner together, spending some time at retreats together.

Working at a rela­tionship means giving something of yourself that is sometimes difficult to give-giving up a little of your pride and self-centeredness to give part of yourself to another person.

Now, by working on the marriage doesn't mean working on your spouse. You should never marry somebody you intend to make over or to transform into the person you really want. It won't happen. You may influence a person for good and help a person become all that God created him or her to be, but you aren't going to change an old mule into a sleek racehorse.

God never holds you responsible for another person's salvation and righteousness. Neither does He hold another person respon­sible for your salvation and righteousness.

When we speak about working on the marriage, we are speaking about investing time, energy, and creativity into the marriage.

There are people who spend more time trying to figure out how to get out of their marriage than they have ever spent trying to figure out how to fix or improve their marriage!  People put more energy into buying cars, into doing their jobs, and even into building their wardrobes than they put into improv­ing their marriages.

improve your communication Agree with your spouse that you both will give serious time, attention, creative energy, and physical energy into ways you can, your ministry together, your home life, your sexual life, your health, your finances and business rela­tionships, your involvement in the church, your social life, and your spiritual life together as a couple.

CONFESSION: I will give serious time, attention, creative energy, and physical energy into ways I can improve our communication, our ministry together, our home life, our sexual life, our health, our finances and business rela­tionships, our involvement in the church, our social life, and our spiritual life together.

An agreement that you both need to "change."

Growth is change. Becoming mature involves change. Devel­opment involves change. A marriage also requires change on the part of both the hus­band and wife. One person alone never is responsible for doing all the changing.

We should go into marriage with an understanding that change is part of the package.  It isn't natural for a husband to love his wife as Christ loves the church. It isn't natural for a wife to submit to her husband as the church submits to Christ. Both husbands and wives need to change.  Change means grabbing hold of your own stubborn will and laying it at the feet of Jesus.  Change means getting the counsel of God in areas where you don't know God's plan or aren't sure of God's purposes.  Change means getting rid of selfishness. Change means taking charge of your attitude, your speech, your temper, and your behavior and putting every aspect of your life under the authority of God's Word. 

Change may mean getting rid of some of your so-called friends.  Change means spending more time in prayer and fasting. Change means spending more time in God's Word.

Most people actually know ways in which they personally need to change; they are just reluctant to admit the changes they know they need to make. Most people know which aspects of their per­sonality and behavior aren't reflecting God. They may not want to admit what they know to other people, or even to themselves, but deep down inside, they know the ways in which they are not living up to God's ideal.  Most people know which aspects of their functioning as a wife or a husband are unlike God's perfection. They just don't want to admit that they aren't acting like a godly husband or wife. In fact, people usually tend to point to the ways in which their spouse is acting in an ungodly manner, or the ways in which they believe their spouse is causing them to act ungodly.  "He just knows how to push my buttons." "She knows how to get under my skin."

An agreement to disagree

Agreement doesn't necessarily mean that you do everything together or that you do everything alike. Total agreement is never possible because we all have our own unique likes and dislikes.

You may like Mexican food, and your spouse may detest it. Your spouse may like Chinese food, and you may detest it.  You may like driving one kind of car; your spouse may enjoy driving another. In fact, if you look at any two-car family, you are going to find that, nine times out of ten, those two cars are differ­ent makes and models!

You may be a night person; your spouse may be a morning person. It's more important that you eat together than that you eat the same food. It's more important that you travel down life's road together than that you ride in the same kind of vehicle. It's more important that you find times to com­municate about your day than that you both have exactly the same waking and sleeping schedule.

There are times when you are wise to say, "I can bend and not break. I can adjust, adapt, be flexible, and go with my spouse's choice on this. It's not an ego issue for me; it's not a matter of control or pride.  Agreement sometimes requires that we lay down our own foolish pride and let the other person have his or her "say" or his or her "way."                       

Agreement is not defined as "my way or the highway." Agreement is not something that one spouse dictates to another. Agreement is something that is reached mutually.  Agreement involves give and take and fair compromises.

An agreement to give 100%

Agreement requires giving up "self." Marriage always requires doses of selfless giving. Many people believe marriage is a fifty-fifty arrangement. Not so! Marriage is always a one hundred-one hundred arrangement; each person gives 100 percent.

Are you in agreement today with your spouse?

As you re-read these principles, know that there is no sequence to these principles; one principle is not greater than the others. Seek to implement all these principles into your marriage.

The good news is that each of these principles can be imple­mented starting today. You don't have to mature into any one of these commitments. Your marriage doesn't have to reach a new plateau before they begin to work. Ask God to quicken these principles to your life. Seek agreement with your spouse about your need to agree.