Marriage and Relationship Care – Avoid the Need To Be Right
Relationship and marriage is more about caring than arguing. This article suggests tips on how to avoid getting stuck in needing to be right.
The Problem of Needing To Be Right
Relationships are fundamentally about caring for each other. It’s important to consider the cost of arguing the details over, “who is right?” with your partner above showing that you care about what your partner feels and needs. It comes down to: ’Do You Want To Be Right Or Do You Want A Relationship?’
Do you find yourself arguing with your partner over ‘who is right?’
It’s very common for couples to find themselves stuck in ‘who is right?’ arguments. If some one needs to right, then of course the other needs to be wrong. It can be seductive to argue your case when you are right or think you are right. It’s hard to give up the temptation to feel a little bit of ego power over your partner.
When the, “who is right?” argument gets extreme, it can feel like a battle to avoid the shame of being wrong. Being “right” can become self-righteous indignation, where you blame your partner for how mad you feel because your partner just doesn’t get how right you are and how stupidly wrong they are.
It’s tempting to focus only on the content of an argument when really what is important is attending to and valuing what you both feel and need. Winning against your partner doesn’t really give you what you need or make a happy relationship. How different it can be if we learn to care about each other’s feelings and needs more than arguing over ,’who is right?’.
How To Avoid Getting Stuck In,”Being Right”
Soothe Yourself – The need “to be right “comes from memories of being shamed as a child for getting something wrong. This is especially the case in families where there are competitive siblings where there was a battle for who got the attention and who had the last word.
As an adult, it’s important to know that you are safe no matter what anyone says and you are not under threat. It’s ok for you to have your reality and for your partner to have their reality.
Appreciate Differences – Everyone is unique, and it’s true that men tend to focus on logic and details whereas women tend to focus on emotion and feeling. This is the cause of many arguments. Appreciate that your partner is different from you and don’t expect them to see things as you do.
Listen without arguing – It’s a temptation to argue when you hear something you don’t agree with. Take time to understand your partner’s reality rather than assume that you know. Listening shows that you care.
Repeat Back what you hear – In arguments both parties long to be understood. The thing is, one of you needs to be willing to hold your desire to be understood and be willing to understand the other first. It’s well worth being the one to take the lead by showing your partner you are listening first.
Try saying, ’Let me see if I’m getting this..,’ and then summarize the main points they have been making. If you take the time to understand your partner they will be much more receptive to giving you time.
Make Validating Statements – Show your partner that what they feel makes sense given the meaning they have made of the situation, you could say ’Given that you thought…..it really makes sense that you feel…’. Even if they made false conclusions, it’s best to start by acknowledging their feelings. The technique is first give attention to feelings, then explore facts.
Identify Feelings and Needs – Help your partner to connect to what they feel and need by asking exploratory questions. Eg. ”Are you feeling …”, or “Are you needing….?
Include Your Own feelings and Needs – When it’s your turn to speak use ‘I’ statements to express what you feel and need without blaming your partner for how you feel. It’s the difference between expressing yourself and shaming someone else.
Reach an Agreement Together – After taking the time to express what you are feeling and needing, explore together, “What can we do to get both our needs met?” rather than arguing rights and wrongs.
Avoid Being Drawn in – If your partner is trying to engage you in an argument over “who is right?”, stay focused on helping them express their feelings and needs.
Instead of needing “to be right’, stay curious about your partner’s reality and help them express what they feel and need. Feel good about showing you care. Try out the tips above.
It’s not easy to keep your cool and find a new way of communicating with your partner. It’s challenging, but worth it. Look for courses and resources under ‘Non violent communication NVC’ if you would like to know more.
About the Author:
Richard Cole works as a Relationship Counsellor at St Pancras Relationship Counselling in London. He is an accredited UKCP psychotherapist and has specialist training in Marriage Relationship Counselling Learn more about Richard and his practice at: www.RelateNow.co.uk