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Do you want to be right or happy?

March 2, 2011

What the Experts Say…

“Excluding your partner’s perspective and insisting on your own, no matter how you put it, implies that being right is more important to you than how your partner feels and more important than the well-being of your relationship.” (Marriage experts, Patricia Love and Steven Stosny, in their book, How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It. p. 126)

In Other Words…

Partners will have different perceptions and preferences. We can argue and fight about who is right (sensible, most informed, wisest, etc.) and, in the process, destroy the relationship. Or we can have the good sense and good character to choose a different course. We can take time to understand our partner’s views. We can ask clarifying questions. We can try to find common ground. We can show respect for their feelings.

Being right is a hollow victory if we damage a relationship. It’s better to be good than right.

How This Applies to You…

Next time you and your partner have some disagreement, don’t start rallying arguments for your view and arguments against your partner’s view. Instead, take time to think about your partner’s perspective. Consider why it might be important to him or her. Think about your partner’s feelings and preferences. You might even say something like: “I can see that you prefer pasta for dinner. May I tell you why I favor pizza?” When you are open to your partner, you are likely to create both more closeness and better decisions.

To Find Out More…

For an excellent (and free!) program on marriage, see The Marriage Garden at Arkansas Families (

For more in-depth reading, we recommend How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking about It by Patricia Love and Steven Stosny or The Marriage Garden by H. Wallace Goddard and James P. Marshall.

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