Am I right or wrong?

Photo Credit: Mahalie Stackpole

Photo Credit: Mahalie Stackpole

The more couples I work with, the more I realize just how easy it is for folks to believe they are right and their spouse is wrong on a particular topic, on various topics. On the surface, the “I’m right and you’re wrong” stance might not seem too problematic; however, it not only leads to petty fights, but to an overall misunderstanding of your spouse as a person. It’s easy to fall into this right/wrong trap, but the truth is that there are few discussions that can objectively, truly deem one spouse “right” and the other “wrong.” The two spousal members are simply DIFFERENT.

The “why” behind this right/wrong thinking may aid in understanding what to do about the problem. Every human being has a core personality. They can be introverted or extroverted (or anywhere on the spectrum). They can be easy-going or more rigid. The examples go on and on. Every human being is a product of their past. Opinions, attitudes, habits and values are all shaped by the culture (family, church, country, etc.) in which we were raised and indoctrinated. We are further shaped by our unique life experiences. It’s no wonder we’re DIFFERENT from one another given the innumerable contributing factors that put a one-of-a-kind stamp on each of us.

This unique stamp on your spouse, which by definition will mean that you have a DIFFERENT stamp, causes difficulty in understanding how your spouse could possibly think or behave the way they do. AND they feel the same way about you! The best approach, then, is to recognize and appreciate that your spouse is merely DIFFERENT, not wrong. Some (if not many) conversations about your partner’s unique qualities and how they were formed can not only give rise to your appreciation of your spouse’s differences, but will by extension, grow your intimacy with one another.

Given your personality, your past and your experiences, it’s easy to find yourself caught in the snare that claims “I’m right and you’re wrong,” but if you’d like to avoid bickering and become closer to your spouse, surrender your need to be right and recognize that you and your spouse are merely DIFFERENT. And DIFFERENT is not right or wrong.

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About Lori Mitton

Lori Mitton is a licensed clinical psychotherapist (MA, LLP) specializing in marriage and family therapy. She is co-founder of Permanent Passionate Partnership.