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You’ve heard it said that duct tape can fix anything. The internet calls it “the go-to repair tool for millions of people.” Popular Mechanics magazine says it can waterproof your shoes, remove pet hair, hide the extra key, prevent windows from shattering, and cover air leaks. These are just five of the many uses set forth in the article.

I once saw a bumper sticker that said, “Duct tape can’t fix stupid, but it can muffle the sound.” Paul Fix once said, “Duct tape is like the force. It has a light side and a dark side, and it holds the world together.”

Opposites tend to get married. Spenders marry savers. Talkers marry listeners. Spontaneous people marry the scheduler. Neat Freaks marry Messy Marvins. Then, guess what happens? These opposite personalities argue.

So, what does duct tape have to do with this? Next time your spouse says something you disagree with, pretend you have duct tape over your lips and just listen.

Fights happen when a spouse gets defensive or quickly (and sometimes harshly) shares a differing viewpoint. If you duct tape your lips closed and keep your ears open, marriage can go a lot smoother.

First, I’ll tell you my recent experience and how to do it wrong. My son had a severely broken ankle and needed extensive surgery. My wife was told we needed to “stay ahead of the pain.” My goal was different. I wanted him off pain meds as quickly as possible.

My poor son was in a dilemma. One parent is telling him to take his meds. The other is telling him to hold out as long as possible. One morning at 5:00 a.m., he called my room and said, “Dad, I’m sorry. I need one of those pills.” I was proud of my son’s toughness. Marilyn felt I was torturing our son.

Instead of really listening and seeking to understand one another, we decided to just play an escalating game of opinion ping-pong until we hardly liked one another. She’d express frustrations, and I’d jump in and say something like, “We don’t need to push pain pills on our son.”

Finally, we slowed down and listened. Marilyn’s point made a lot of sense. When I shared fully, she was more understanding and less frustrated with me. Once we took the time to really listen to one another, we were able to work through the issue and come to a compromise.

If I had used duct tape on the front end, we could have avoided some tough days. Scripture tells us to be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” Our natural inclination is to do the opposite.

1 Peter tells us, “Live with your spouse in an understanding way.” Seek to understand. Don’t be what Proverbs calls “the fool who loves to share their own opinion.”

Now, think of an issue you don’t see eye-to-eye with your spouse. Then, put the duct tape on and just fully listen to everything about your spouse’s view. You may not agree, but if you fully listen, you’ll find you get along better, and the viewpoint may make more sense than you think.

If, after you both fully listen and understand one another, you still can’t resolve the issue or get to a point of grace, seek out a third party to help you through the issue. It is better to do the work than to live in silent frustration.