Let me tell you a dumb argument that married couples have all the time.
Husband: Apples are clearly better than oranges. You should feel that way because I do. I mean, look at all the other wives who like apples better. I’m sick of only having oranges around here and if you loved me, you’d buy apples and like apples and want apples.
Wife: Anybody with half a brain can see oranges are better. Look, just because your mom liked apples better doesn’t mean I have to. Besides everyone I’ve ever dated before you agreed with me and Sally’s husband actually appreciates all the oranges she buys. Besides, really good Christians like oranges better. If you were a stronger leader in our family, you’d see it my way.
Can you imagine a more ridiculous discussion? I can. I see it all the time- frequently coming out of my own mouth. Do you know what makes it so dumb? Apples and oranges aren’t good or bad, right or wrong, better or worse. They’re neutral and totally subjective. There’s no way to really “win” that argument. And even if you could, the only option that leaves your spouse is to “lose”.
Ah, but you don’t argue about apples and oranges do you? No, neither do I (well I mean, unless I’m particularly cranky). But, I do argue about budgeting and which movie to watch and where we should spend our free time and how to load the dishwasher, and what consequence the kids should have, how often we should have people over for dinner or shamefully in my house- how many packets of Crystal Light should be used for the big pitcher. (It’s one I tell ya!) I am realizing more and more, that judging my husband over morally neutral issues is a real struggle for me. In other words, I’ll take a subject, let’s say hypothetically, how often he should plan a date night for us. Then I will decide my opinion on that issue, which is once a month (clearly). Then I will decide he is wrong, or the more clever and subtle judgement “less right” because he disagrees. Then I take the moral high ground in my approach to arguing, because I believe I have it. So rather than seeking a solution we both feel good about, I set out to convince him of his wrongness or my rightness. And I either haggle and waggle him into begrudgingly giving in, or (heaven forbid) he takes the same moral high ground approach back and we end up both feeling angry and hurt with no good solution.
Let me propose a more reasonable, accurate and biblical approach: don’t make morally neutral subjects moral. If it isn’t expressly defined in scripture as a command or principal to be followed, acknowledge from the beginning to yourself, it is a matter of opinion and your spouse has the right to think differently than you. Next, seek to find solutions in areas of disagreement- not to be right. Finally, if neither one of you is right or wrong, then there are times you need to lovingly give up your right to your opinion or preference and serve your spouse. Bottom line, sometimes you need to buy them apples, not because apples are better, but because they like apples.