The Battle of Right and Wrong

Marriage Problems -right and wrong - by Danielle Napolio Cox

Who's right? Who's wrong?

The most common power struggle in relationships is around the battle of who is right and who is wrong.  What starts as a difference of opinion during the dating years can evolve into a modern day War of the Roses.

In this video, I discuss how the battle to be right can erode a marriage.

Often, this power struggle happens slowly over time.  So slow that it becomes a very normal way of life within a marriage for many couples.

After years of marriage, our politeness fades.  We begin to see expressed opinions as judgments.  They feel like judgments our personal beliefs, ideas, and world view.  They feel like a personal attack.

Anytime we face a judgment, we experience uncomfortable emotions.  Anger. Hurt. Annoyance. Frustration. We push back against the judgment to ease our discomfort.

We react.

Then our husband reacts.

This sets up our marriage for a battle to shift the discomfort back and forth.

And even if this process starts as a reaction, the truth is that we often end up becoming judgmental.  We believe that our ideas are superior. We want to explain. We want our spouse to agree with us. Our husbands feel the same.  They want to explain. They want us to agree with them.

As the conversation continues, a whole new set of thoughts and judgments appear around these differences.  It becomes a battle of me vs. you.

What's sneaky about the right vs. wrong power struggle is that both parties get completely caught up in defending their values.  They become closed off. Their thoughts about their spouse become painful.

WHAT IT MEANS TO BE RIGHT

When we believe that we're right, we are confident in our perspective.  It makes complete sense and seems logical. Sometimes we become so confident in our perspective that we compare their ideas to ours as a way to discredit them.

These attempts may be completely well meaning.  Or they can be an indirect form of control.

WHEN YOUR HUSBAND INSISTS THAT HE IS RIGHT

If you're married to someone who has strong beliefs, they may be very vocal about it.  When they express an opinion that conflicts with ours, we can become triggered. It may feel like a personal attack.  It may even come across as an intentional attempt to one-up you. In the moment, your emotions may become triggered and you may react rather than respond.  It's normal to want to defend ourselves against a perceived judgment. In the moment it feels good to justify our viewpoint. We may try to explain our reasons…or we may choose to attack his.

Reacting in these moments means that we let go of processing and choosing our emotions.  Instead, we allow our emotions to control us. In the moment, we forget that we get to choose what we will make his words and actions mean about us.

Being offended is a choice.

You get to decide how the thought of others, including your husband, impact you.

WHO'S WRONG?

There is another element to this type of power struggle – the battle to decide who is wrong.

Sometimes people don't try to prove that they are right.  They try to prove the other person is wrong.

This is a passive-aggressive way to indirectly assert superiority.  It's a way of letting our spouse know that they're not as good as they believe themselves to be.

This is a very slippery slope.

Even when we point out problems and flaws because we're trying to be helpful, it may not come across that way.  The same is true when our husband tries to offer suggestions. When the foundation of trust is weak in a relationship, it's easy to distrust the intention of our spouse.

Does this mean we should stop offering help and advice?  Of course not.

As you work to reestablish trust in your relationship, you and your husband will once again be able to accept wisdom from each other.

When you approach your husband about his opinions or ideas, take a moment to assess your intentions.  Here are a few questions you can ask yourself before speaking up:

  • Am I taking action based on genuine concern for him?
  • Is this centered in love?
  • Am I willing to accept that he may not appreciate my attempts?


Remember, you get to decide what to think about the interaction.

There may be moments where your husband points out flaws and problems.  Remain open to the wisdom that he may be sharing with you. Before you react defensively, ask yourself:

  • Does is opinion have merit?
  • How can I see this through his eyes?
  • Is there an opportunity here to restore trust and connection?


This week, challenge yourself to become aware of the power struggle that may be lurking in the edges of your marriage.  Tune into the way that you may contributing to it.

You are always at choice about how you show up in your marriage.

And when you show up as an inspired wife, you'll have an inspiring marriage.

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