The Problem With Being Right

One of the most common pitfalls that comes with any relationship are those seemingly trivial arguments that keep both people in a bad mood for a day or so. How often do you find yourself fuming over what, in reality, you know to be no big deal? Anyone who likes a sense of control (which is most of us) can be vulnerable to this. Unfortunately, over time, these little conflicts can be damaging to a relationship if not handled effectively. Here’s an example:

Gary is normally the one to drive the car if he and his wife of 12 years go somewhere together. If his wife does drive, he normally criticizes how she drives as he compares his style to hers. He tends to drive faster and more aggressively, while his wife drives slower and hesitates more. His wife becomes upset by the criticism and it escalates into a full-blown argument. “We’re wasting time! You could have made that turn 5 times by now!” he shouts. She responds, “Thank you for reminding me I can’t do anything right!”

What went wrong here? Gary unknowingly decided that being right about his driving style was more important than being happy with his wife. As opposed to accepting that his wife drives differently than him, he continues to nag and criticize, causing unnecessary arguing and conflict. What if instead of focusing on how she was driving he talked to her about his day, mentioned a funny thing he saw on TV, or sang along to a song on the radio? Chances are that they would both be much happier upon arriving at their destination.

Sometimes accepting the way things are (even if you don’t like them) can greatly reduce the amount of conflict in your relationships. Trying to let go of being “right” about something and being more flexible with your spouse, children, coworkers, etc., can lead to a lot less frustration and disappointment. (Note that this is for those little things that you can live with, not big life-changing decisions or abusive behaviors!) Being “right” about something may feel good in the short term, but ultimately can lend itself to being pretty miserable. Choose acceptance and happiness instead.