Put yourself in this situation: you and your partner both arrive home from work after a long commute. You’re both tired, but you just know you’re more tired and that it’s your partner’s turn to make dinner anyway. When you ask your partner if they’re going to make dinner, though, they insist that you said last night that you’d make dinner. You’re positive you never said this, and an argument ensues. You can’t both be right—and maybe neither of you is. Maybe you’re both remembering incorrectly because you’re tired and unable to get any distance on your own perspectives.
Although the situation described above is a minor disagreement, that kind of “I’m right, you’re wrong” mindset can seep into many different relationship squabbles and become seriously toxic over time. When you insist that your thinking is more correct than your partner’s thinking, you send the message that you don’t fully value them as a person.
So how do we get into this mindset, especially in situations where we may actually be wrong about the thing we’re sure is right?
We’re Attached to Our Way of Thinking
Our minds are capable of some pretty extraordinary things, but they’re not always great at giving us a clear view of reality. Our world is shaped by our perceptions—that is, our interpretation of the environment, events, and people around us. It can be incredibly hard to tell the difference between what really is and what we think is because our perceptions can create a bias that we’re not even aware of. For example, many people fall into the trap of thinking that they’re a great driver while everyone else is awful. Meanwhile, another driver is probably thinking the same thing about them!
If you get into an argument with your partner and you’re convinced that you’re right, take a step back and try to look at the situation from your partner’s viewpoint. Better yet, ask your partner to explain how they’re feeling so that you have a greater insight into their perspective. Maybe neither of you is 100% right, but you need to at least hear each other out and accept that there are no “winners” or “losers” in the argument.
Letting go of the idea that you’re necessarily right can be hard to do, but it’s a valuable skill to develop in a relationship. If you’re interested in learning more about how to “fight fair” and better empathize with your partner, consider scheduling an appointment with the Houston marriage counselor or attending an upcoming couples’ workshop.