Come on, admit it. You love being right. We all do. It makes us feel big and important. But when we HAVE to be right, when we stubbornly hold onto our position, not conceding anything or even acknowledging that the other person has a right to their point of view, then there’s a problem.
Let me tell you something about people who need to be right. Somewhere hidden inside them, they feel wrong. Sometime in their past, they could never “win” with a parent or other authority, which made them feel really bad about themselves. They were wrong about what they thought, wrong about what they did, wrong about how they felt—their whole being was wrong. Now, they desperately try to get their sense of self back by being right. So when an issue comes up, they defend their position as if it’s THEM, not merely the issue.
Sure, lording it over someone weaker can temporarily feel good. But here’s the rub: it’s only a temporary fix, which means you have to do it over and over and over again. In the meantime, you’ve totally alienated the other person, made them angry, pushed them further and further away. They might not be able to stand up and defend themselves, or tell you directly to go take a hike, but rest assured, they will get you in some passive aggressive way. And believe me, if that happens you will feel it. And this, my dear friends, is not a formula for a happy relationship.
Couples don’t have to agree on everything. How boring would that be anyway? When there is disagreement, each person needs to acknowledge their partner’s point of view. That means listening with the intent to understand how they feel even when you totally disagree with them. Listening brings great rewards to your relationship. When you are listened to, you feel respected. And when each person feels respected, the relationship is on good footing.
How do you stop this pattern? First of all, be aware. Notice when you find yourself in a power struggle, needing to be right. Stop. Take a breath, and remember that “winning” this argument means your relationship loses. Take another breath… and listen. Then chalk up a victory for your relationship…and for YOU!
Check out my book, The Affair: From Breakdown to Breakthrough, A Therapist’s Real-life Journey, for more great tips and insights about relationships. You can read a synopsis of the book on my website, www.infidelityandaffairs.com and buy it worldwide from all Amazon websites (both print and Kindle) and Barnes and Noble.