Do You Differ or Defer?


It’s amazing to me how often the Lord will get my attention by defining two words. One is usually what I should be doing, and the other is what I tend to do left to myself.

Case in point: Differ or Defer

Differ – to disagree in opinion, belief, etc.; disagree 

Defer – to submit to the opinion, wishes, or decision of another through respect or in recognition of his or her authority, knowledge, or judgment.

How often do you disagree with your spouse? If you’re honest and like most couples–probably on a daily basis. It’s not surprising since we are different, but we don’t have to constantly differ with them. To do so produces strife and all kinds of discontent.

When was the last time you willingly deferred to your spouse during a disagreement?

It is certainly the quickest way to end an argument, but not the easiest thing to do. Deferring is taking our will and making it bow to another. It places our spouse in a place of honor and trust when we may or may not want to honor or trust them. And it allows God space to do what only He can do–change your spouse’s perspective on a matter.

I have a personal example I want to share with you.

When the Lord recently directed me to cut back on the amount of time I spend posting, I quickly deferred to His will. When I shared it with Tom, he couldn’t agree more. He reminded me that he had been telling me this for a few months. <ouch>

Sadly, I didn’t remember. Why? Because I had chosen to differ with him thus disregarding his advice. On the other hand, Tom chose to defer to me waiting on God to open my eyes.  Tom doing this wasn’t a lack of leadership on his part–as I might have thought in our earlier years together–he was trusting God to help me see what he knew was right all along. Rather than dig his heels in and make me defer, he chose to wait patiently for God to reveal it to me. This is what God-honoring leadership looks like. It chooses love over response, kindness over bearing down, trust over distrust, etc.

Another area where couples can often disagree is in the area of finances. You may want to do things one way, and your spouse prefers another. How do you come to a place of resolve? By deferring to the other and trusting God in the process.

If you are finding yourself in constant disagreement with your spouse, why not consider a different response? Try deferring to them and see what God does. You may be surprised when they come to you and share what God has just revealed to them! Then you can do what Tom did to me–kiss them and encourage them in how they’re listening to God. 🙂


About Debi Walter

Tom and Debi have been sharing encouragements through their blogs for many years. Marriage, Reading God's Word and documenting family history is our focus. Growing in our relationship with the Lord is primary in all we say, write or do. We are grateful for all who desire to join us in the same endeavors.
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7 Responses to Do You Differ or Defer?

  1. Nancy Harris says:

    Great insight!


    • Debi Walter says:

      I only wish I was better at doing this! Seeing it is the biggest step towards change, don’t you think? Thanks for your continual encouragement. You’re a blessing to me.

      Love you,


  2. We all bring our talents and skills into our marriage. I think it’s important to understand our spouses strengths and weaknesses as well as our own. My dear wife is very sensitive and is a nurturer by nature; me not so much. Her talents were perfectly suited for being a wonderful mother. Throughout our marriage I always deferred to my wife’s knowledge and talents in caring for our children. Whenever one of our children were sick my wife would always ask for my input and I gladly gave it but in the end, I would defer to her better judgment. The same would hold true for deciding on what schools to choose for our children. Although some discussions were more lengthy, in the end, I would defer to her better judgement.

    There were plenty of times when my wife would defer to my judgement as well. We can’t be good at everything, It’s important to have faith in our spouses and know when to rely on their talents, experience and better judgement. Hopefully, the talents and experience compliment each other’s and grow in confidence throughout your marriage.


    • Debi Walter says:

      Excellent point. It’s easiest to defer to our spouse when we are confident of their strength in that area. But the biggest challenge for most is when you don’t agree. That’s when it takes a deeper resolve to trust and respect your spouse. Only God can enable us to do this well and defer to them. Left to ourselves most of us end up disagreeing and maybe even end up fighting about it.
      Thanks for commenting.


  3. Thanks Debi, for writing and posting this helpful insight. As a matter of fact, I just now added a link to this, via the blog that I posted on the Marriage Missions web site last night titled, “Where’s Your Focus.” We too often focus on our differences, making them even larger than life forgetting that marriage is a covenant relationship of partnership. Thank you for posting this blog for all to see and for you and Tom allowing yourselves to help us learn through your triumphs, tragedies, tumblings and stumblings. We love and appreciate you guys, more than you’ll ever know! 🙂


  4. Pingback: Where’s Your Focus? : Marriage Missions International

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