Relationship Resolution 3 ~ Let Go

Lesli Doares Res 3 pic"You don't need strength to Let go of 
something.  What you really need is
understanding".  ~ Guy Finley

In his book, The New Rules of Marriage, my colleague, Terry Real, identifies five losing strategies people engage in that harm their marriages. The first of these strategies is “needing to be right.” This strategy is exemplified by the presenting of “objective” evidence that supports your position. The ensuing conversation frequently devolves into whose version of the problem or memory is more accurate.

Right or Wrong? If you and your partner engage in this strategy, you know first hand the difficulties it causes. Because if one of you is “right”, by definition the other must be “wrong”.  Not to mention, whichever one of you is “wrong” probably doesn’t feel very good about being in that position. This is most likely because one or both of you becomes self-righteously indignant. Once one of you ends up here, you will never find a solution because you have stopped looking for one.

One of the challenges to changing this strategy of needing to be right is that, quite often, you are indeed right. The question that then needs to be asked is, “Is my partner also right?” Because it is also possible, maybe even likely, that they are too. This is true because what you are disagreeing about isn’t the facts, but how each of you feel about those facts.

It isn’t a question of whether or not you have the dollars in your bank account to take a vacation but whether you think that is a good use for those dollars. You each can argue your position until you’re blue in the face and you will both be “right”. You are also doing damage to your relationship.

What Really Matters.  Another question worth asking about being right is, “Does it matter?” This is what’s at the heart of Dr. Phil’s, “Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?” Terry has a corollary–do you want to be right or do you want to be married? Is it enough to know you are factually correct about something or does everyone else have to know it too? If you’re talking about the address of the doctor’s office or the area of the room you’re wanting to carpet, it might matter. But if your partner misspoke or misremembered the exact day of the week your mother left, what’s the point?

Needing to be right erodes intimacy. You can hold your own position and respect your partner’s at the same time. It doesn’t require agreeing with it, or even understanding it. It only requires the ability to hear it and validate it as being important to your partner.

Commitment.  You can make the commitment to let go of needing to be right at any time. Some suggestions that might help you with this:

  • Identify if you and your partner are discussing facts or opinion.
  • Look for aspects of your partner’s position that align with yours.
  • Determine if the outcomes of each of your positions would truly be different.
  • Listen to your partner’s perspective with an open mind and heart.
  • Examine what your stake in being “right” is and how that promotes/hurts your relationship.
  • Identify when you move into self-righteous indignation and how your partner responds.
  • Investigate what it says about you if you don’t get your way.
  • “Wear” your partner’s position for a day and evaluate how you feel.As you become aware of when needing to be right enters your relationship, I’m sure you will think of other ways you can deal with it. When you remove this “right/wrong”, “you vs. me” tug-of-war from your relationship, you will be able to connect with your partner in a more loving, positive way.

How about you?  Let me know how you’re progressing as you implement these resolutions. I would love to share your successes. For more on how to “let go”, check out the podcast. Join me next month for Resolution #4.

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