Would You Rather Be Married or Be Right?

By Allen B. Mullinax, Ph.D., Pastoral Counselor and Spiritual Director

Interesting question, isn’t it. “Would you rather be married or right?” Marriage and Family Therapist, Terry Beal, often askes couples this question when they are sitting in his office arguing with each other.  They usually become suddenly silent and look at him like he is stupid.  I often ask couples this question when they are arguing with each other in my office and I get the same kind of look.

Most of the time, they say, “Of course, we want to be married!”  What neither of them realizes is that if one or the other always insists that their way is the only right way, their chances of staying are not very good.

With some exceptions, most things in the world, and particularly most things that couples argue about, are neither right or wrong, or black or white.  Most s.tatements should probably begin with the phrase, “In my opinion . . .”.  Couples often argue as if the whole world depends on one or both of them being right and the other person being wrong, when in fact, there are often many answers to a particular point.  Furthermore, even if you are “right” is it really worth arguing about?  Does it really matter?

When one person insists that he or she is right, the possibility of a creative discussion that might bring a solution to the problem cannot happen. The discussion becomes two persons butting their heads against either other, sometimes saying hurtful things that will never be forgotten.

I often encourage spouses, or for that matter, anyone who is arguing, to switch positions—to argue each other’s point of view and even to make the other person’s point stronger.  In doing so, I also encourage them to try to feel what the other person might have been feeling.  And I always insist that they be respectful of each other.

Marriage is such a wonderful adventure when both persons work together toward similar goals and with deep respect for the other person. That cannot really happen when one partner always insists on being right.  “Would you rather be married or be right?”