You Can Be Right or You Can Be Married

    One of the most common contributing factors to marital discord is the need to be “right”. Couples argue over such mundane issues such as who said what to whom, to larger issues of politics, religion, and health care. It is amazing the number of arguments that ensue as a result of a difference of opinion on the “right” way to load a dishwasher.

    Most issues couples fight about are not factual matters but rather matters of opinion. Opinions are like belly buttons. We all have them. There is in fact no “right” way to load a dishwasher.

    The fact that a couple would choose to win an argument at the cost of damaging the relationship with the person they have chosen to be their life partner is nothing short of insane.

    Why does this happen? It stems from insecurity. It happens because being right affirms a sense of self-worth. It comes from a belief that there is always a right and a wrong. If you operate from a belief system that there is always a right and wrong and you and your partner have a difference of opinion, then it is impossible to concede that your partner has a valid point of view without admitting that you are wrong.

    The solution is to recognize a difference of opinion for just that a difference of opinion. Allow your partner to have an opinion that is contrary to yours without attempting to destroy or correct it. You don’t have to give up your contrary opinion but you don’t have to mount an assault against your partner’s opinion.

    If you and your partner find that you are engrained in a pattern of each wanting to be right, what can you do about it?

    First and foremost, become a better listener. Make sure you understand what your partner is saying before you disagree with them. Listening is not just what you do while you are waiting for your turn to speak. Listening is what you do to genuinely hear and understand what your partner has to say. All opinions are influenced by circumstances. It is impossible to fully understand why another person has the opinions they do because you have not lived their life. Listening to the reasoning behind someone else’s opinions can be revealing. It can go a long way in improving the communication with your partner and deepening the connection with them.

    If you find the process of becoming a better listener and thereby improving the relationship with your partner a challenge, consider working with a therapist who can help you develop the necessary skills.

    For additional information and help with marriage and relationship issues,  please contact [email protected] or call/text 703-437-6311