Resist the Urge to Be Right

Psychotherapists see a great many couples in crisis. In all these troubled marriages, problems boil down to just four main causes. When both partners still wish to stay together and work at the marriage, an understanding of these four problem areas can aid reconciliation and even strengthen their unity as a couple. Indeed, anyone interested in their own development as a husband or wife, whether experiencing marital problems themselves or not, can still study these four causes of conflict and learn from them. Briefly, they are the urge to be right, our idle fancies and vain imaginings, our emotions, and our self-centredness.

The urge to be right Every argument, big or small, starts with two people of opposing views, each equally convinced that he or she is right. If a person who is right insists on everyone acknowledging it, then he is putting himself in the wrong, for such stubborn insistence on having one's own way is a great enemy of both reason and justice, and a sure way of turning an insignificant disagreement into a major quarrel.

Of course we all have rights as well as responsibilities; but insisting on our own rights may mean disregarding the rights of others. There are times when, in the interests of harmony and equality, we are well advised not to insist on having the last word.

Peace is more valuable than being right. Peace was not made for the sake of right; right was made for the sake of peace. Therefore, if one should ever need to give way to the other, when right should give way to peace and not vice versa.

Martin Luther

And Robert Heinlein, the American writer, was only half joking when he advised couples, ’lf you find you are in the right, apologize at once.’

Here is an example of the urge to be right, carried to extremes.

A married couple go to see a marriage guidance counsellor. When the counsellor asks why they have come, the wife starts to explain. She has hardly opened her mouth, however, before her husband interrupts to correct her. Quickly she justifies herself. One thing leads to another and soon they are arguing fiercely. In the heat of battle both have forgotten the counsellor's existence. In their role as seasoned fighters for their rights they demonstrate their agreement — of which neither of them is conscious - to fight their battles with arguments.