Over the years, PR31 and I have had people ask us on multiple occasions what we think are the keys to healthy marriage/relationship. Usually, one of the keys we give them is a handy little family rule we established in our marriage early on, and it basically went like this…
If you took a really strong stand on something… opposing what your spouse thought or said… and you were found to be wrong, then you had to say, “You were right. I was wrong. I’m sorry. Will you please forgive me?”
It’s not too bad when the other person has to say it. In fact, it’s a little gratifying. The only problem is that Angela rarely had to say it, and I had to say it often. At least to begin with.
But soon I got tired of having to eat crow and swallow my pride. Eventually I learned the lesson this little rule was intended to teach when we instituted it… Don’t be so hard-nosed and opinionated that you think you’re the only one in this world who knows anything. Initially in our marriage, I would fiercely defend my correctness, only to be proven wrong on multiple occasions. It soon occurred to me that my sweet wife often knew as much or more than me on plenty of topics, and I should learn to listen instead of argue.
It worked both ways, and it also didn’t take long for both of us to agree that we would rather hear the other person’s ideas, consider them as possibly being right, and search together to discover the truth.
The next step of that journey was to not rub it in the other person’s nose when you were right and they were wrong. Again, it only takes a few times of finding yourself on the other end of that stick to know that there has to be a better way.
Our relationship is better now… more than two decades later… because we learned not to make such a big stinkin’ deal out of every little thing we might disagree on. Some people suggest that couples have to argue to have a healthy relationship. I disagree… I mean, it’s possible that I could be wrong… but it seems to me that instead of arguing, perhaps a better choice would be to find a way to disagree agreeably until you can both discover the truth together and agree on it.
And if I’m wrong, you can be sure that I will be the first one to admit it. That’s been one other outcome of that little life experiment… an attitude that makes us quick to apologize when we discover we are wrong. Real apologies. Sincere apologies.
In loving relationships… whether marriage, parent-child or even best friends… love apologizes.
For the record, there are still times one of us has to abide by the family rule and make the statement, but those times are much fewer and farther between than when we first began. I, for one, am glad for that!