Updated: May 13, 2021
I recently had a session with a couple in which the husband stated “I have learned that I need to choose if I want to be right.” This struck me as both insightful and important when discussing relationships. In marriages it isn’t always important to be right. It is important to be heard and it is important to be respected, but being right may not always be the answer, in fact it may be the problem.
So why do we fight to be “right” in a situation? Is it pride? Is it ego? Is it competitiveness? All of these are logical reasons why we argue or fight, but are they roles that we want to hold in a marriage? When I work with couples, I often ask what are the characteristics that they believe are key to a strong relationship. No one ever says, “I want to be right all the time." However, the top five characteristics listed are
respect, loyalty, communication, support and love.
Can we be right and hold all five characteristics? Or can we be wrong and still be all five? Absolutely. However, it is definitely more likely that we can be right and jeopardize one if not all of the five.
There is a simple practice for determining if we “need” to be right in a marriage. One should always ask themselves two questions:
What is the purpose of being right?
How does this benefit the marriage?
Notice I didn’t say how does this benefit me? A well-functioning marriage rarely allows the individuals to focus on themselves. Have you ever received an unexpected Christmas present from someone? Maybe it was a friend that you’re close to but typically don’t exchange presents with? How did it feel? Typically, we would feel awkward and wish we had bought a present for that person. It is hard to receive something in love unsolicited and not want to return that love. What would happen if we loved generously? What if we loved our spouse without expectation of return? What if we committed to loving them more than ourselves? It is an exercise I often encourage to couples. A one-sided love is difficult to maintain but a perpetual flow from one to the other can feed a marriage.
Next time you experience an argument, ask yourself these questions:
• Do I need to be right?
• What is the purpose?
• How does this benefit the marriage?
We could all use a little less arguing, a little less pride and a little more love.