Do You Want to Be Right or Do You Want to Be Married
Posted On: August 14, 2018
Robyne F. Howard Psy.D.
Lakefront Counseling Group, Ltd.
After twenty plus years of providing couples therapy, I often find that partners get stuck in the loop of wanting to show to the other that their perspective is the correct one. Disagreements gain momentum by attempts to prove that your understanding is more valid. Each thinking that if they have more data to present, provide the most logical argument and work hard to point out the other’s inconsistencies, that they will prevail. This pattern misses the most important point.
Sometimes inner conflicts and differences defy logic, and what is much more important is being heard and understood.
Arguing about why your partner should not be sad about a critical comment made by a co-worker or why you changed more diapers or did more laundry than your partner, is not always what is most important when you are attempting to prove your point.
Getting to what is driving the need is oftentimes more critical than who is more correct. Asking questions, like, “why is this so upsetting, you seem really impacted by this”, or “what is it that you need from me” or “can you help me to understand why this is so meaningful to you”, goes much farther than proving to your partner why your perspective is superior to theirs.
There are of course times when logic, collecting and sharing data is necessary, but when you find yourself looping back around to disproving your partner’s experience, remind yourself to ask open-ended questions instead. Be empathic, try to understand their side even if it differs from yours. This allows your partner to feel connected, validated and most of all, encourages them to do the same with you.
Practice this strategy daily and you will find that conflicts and disagreements become less frequent and intense and create a greater sense of us and we rather than me versus you.