Our Obsession with Being Right

Fight of the Week / Marriage Michelle Lindsey August 19, 2014

Our obsession with being rightWhy does it feel so good to be right?

Scott and I aren’t exactly passive people. We are expert arguers. Ask anyone who has spent time with us. It’s like our very own debate club that nobody wants to be a part of. I tell myself that we’re just outgoing and vocal, but really we just both love to be right.

When did winning an argument become so important? Oh, from the beginning of time. Adam and Eve stood there arguing about who was really in the wrong. I can just see their wide eyes and their fingers pointing in every direction except at themselves.

They had no problem throwing each other under the bus. It didn’t end well, did it? They experienced isolation, and pain entered their lives forever.

My Mom always tells me, “Do you want to be right, or happy?”

Well, I prefer to be both. But it doesn’t feel very nice to be the victor when my spouse feels angry or sad.

Winning an argument feels good for about two seconds until you realize it comes at a cost.

Sometimes we fight just to fight

Recently, Scott was upset because his facial soap was getting ruined in the shower. It had gashes in it and was withering away too quickly. He even accused one of the kids of chewing on it. My husband loves his facial soap, and I know my kids are naughty, but that felt like a stretch to me.

I’m a home-school mom, so the answer to the riddle became clear to me after I examined his soap. I have done too many experiments to not recognize erosion when I see it. I told Scott that it was simply just the water pressure beating down on the soap, causing cracks and lines. Scott looked at me like I was a complete fool. His eyes were wide as he told me I was wrong and silly for thinking this.

I stepped into the shower, turned the water on, and showed him how the water hit the soap perfectly, causing it to wither away. I was so proud—I had solved the mystery. But he wouldn’t agree with me! My sing-songy voice quickly marched toward a full blown argument.

Feeling joy over being right produces strife

Scott called my brother into the bathroom to give his opinion. All three of us were halfway in the shower as we examined the situation. It was becoming such a huge deal that my brother thought we were joking.

Who fights about soap?

Finally, Scott opened a new bar, and placed it under the water and told me to keep it there for twenty minutes to see if it shrank. He went to work and I stood there watching the soap. After ten minutes or so, what looked like little teeth marks appeared. AHA! I was shockingly happy.

I found a YouTube video that demonstrated water erosion on soap, and sent it to Scott. He wasn’t thrilled to admit I was correct. He didn’t say, “Oh HONEY, you are so smart.”

Instead, I was painfully aware of the pride that was oozing out of me. It didn’t impress him that I had proved him wrong. It just created distance. It wasn’t worth fighting over.

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. —Romans 12:18

If possible, choose peace

It sounds so sweet and simple, but when you’re seeing red, it’s difficult. When it feels so good to be right, it’s sometimes feels impossible. Peace is a better option than fighting, because things never fail to escalate. What starts out as a simple disagreement can become a full on fight, and the floodgates of emotion open up and cause all sorts of trouble.

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. —James 3:13-18

Peaceable, gentle, open to reason . . . those three attributes alone could completely change how Scott and I communicate. From soap fights to selfish ambitions, it’s wise to be full of mercy, good fruits, impartial and sincere. What started out as a small issue, ended up with us angry and bitter.

Viewing your marriage through the lens of grace

I pray I can catch myself before I toss more gasoline on the fire. When I view my marriage through the lens of grace, I’m able to walk in peace. How does the gospel transform the way I interact with my husband? It reminds me that I can’t love my husband the way I need to love him.

Left to my own strength, I will always choose myself.

I need God to help me to love Scott. I need Him to free me from the guilt and failure that is inevitable. Without the gospel message in our relationship, we will keep striving for control.

Soften our hearts, God. Turn my eyes off of myself, off of Scott, and redirect my gaze to You. Thank you for rescuing me and giving me Your righteousness. Outside of your saving grace, I am lost. I am so thankful You are working in our marriage, and giving us the strength to love each other well. When we are obsessed with being right, remind us that our value comes from You alone.