November 24, 2008

Are You Good At Being Wrong?

Humans, by nature, don't like to be wrong. Men, especially, hate being wrong. Have you even been around that someone who's never wrong even though everyone around him knows that he is? Question for today is: How often is that person you?

I remember when I was younger I would get pretty frustrated with people that refused to be wrong when they were obviously very much wrong. I didn't even like it when it was even done jokingly because it seemed to set that person up for in-apporach-ability (?) when it came to the serious stuff. I made the decision at a young age that I would always be willing to be wrong.

One day, before my wife and I were married, we were playfully arguing over something we both were sure that our take on the matter was fact. When it turned out that I was incorrect, I just casually mentioned to her, "I was wrong, I'm sorry." She didn't say anything because were already focused on something else, and I thought I'd never hear about it again.

Until a long time later.

On our drive to another town to celebrate our first wedding anniversary, we were going through some discussion questions in a book that were meant to get you talking about things. One of the questions was something like, "What things do you really appreciate about your mate?" Much to my surprise, she said she liked how I could admit when I was wrong, and then she used the example of that (seemingly) forgotten moment which took place many months before. Though she never said a word that day, she had stored up that moment in her heart and added it to a list of things that meant a lot to her.

It's hard to admit being wrong, but the benefits (especially in marriage) are so worthwhile. I love knowing that my wife is not afraid to bring up things she knows I disagree with. I love never hearing a frustrated, "Fine! Whatever you say!" come out of her mouth. I never want my wife to feel like she can't approach me, or question the facts of a story, an event, a receipt, or anything.

Remember, even in a situation where both of you are absolutely positively sure that your take on a story is right, one of you isn't. Personally, I've gotten into the habit of saying, "Maybe I'm wrong, but I was pretty sure it happened like this..." Just the acknowledgment that it might be your inaccurate memory — and not your pride — goes a long way.

So how about you? How good are you at being wrong?

15 comments:

  1. I've never been wrong about anything. Ever.

    :-)

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  2. I thought I was wrong once, but it turns out I was mistaken.

    Seriously though...I'm pretty good at admitting when I'm wrong. (I've had lots of practice)

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  3. I'm good at admitting when I'm wrong, unless I'm angry - then I really suck.

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  4. (from a female) I've learned to just let things go when they don't matter. My partner once said, "it kills me that you're always right!" When I asked him if he meant I always had to BE right, he said, "NO! You're ACTUALLY always right!" Ha.

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  5. I joked in my earlier comment about always being right.

    The fact is I thought I was pretty good at admitting when I am wrong until I had kids.

    Seeing how my kids refuse to admit they are wrong when they are talking about something which they cannot possibly have any knowledge of has opened my eyes to see my own failings.

    I'm terrible at admitting when I'm wrong. See, it took me more than 24 hours to even admit that!

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  6. I often ask my wife if it's painful to always be right. Seriously, I learned a long time ago to admit when I'm wrong. Fortunately for me, I am married to someone who doesn't rub it in my face or think less of me for being wrong.

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  7. This post is great and it moved me to comment. When finding out one or the other of us is mistaken, my old man and I have taken to saying the following: "Baby, you are soooooooo right. And I am soooooooo wrong." And then we both laugh. We're not very sarcastic people in general so it seems to work for us.

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  8. My wife tends to be right much more than I am. I do admit when I am wrong (which is the case far more often than I'd like it to be).

    The problem I have is my Wife very (very) rarely thinks she's wrong because she is right so often. It seems like every time she's right and I'm wrong, it makes it that much harder for her to accept anything I say, and she's constantly second guessing even the smallest assumptions/statements I make.

    There's a good feeling you get when you talk with someone about something, and they accept what you say without questioning you. Just think for a moment how you would feel if someone negated 90% of the things you said based solely on what they thought, with no facts or clear logic to either support their opinions or negate yours.

    It really seems like my Wife thinks less of me each time I'm wrong and she's right, but I don't know how to bring that up without getting into an argument or her feeling like I'm attacking her.

    Anyone have any ideas?

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  9. I can totally relate to J's comment about my wife always being right, and going out of her way to make it known that I am wrong. She has all of the responses ready for me:

    "You know my memory is better than yours."

    "Remember when you said (x) about (y) and you were wrong?"

    "You have a false memory" (she's in Psychology)

    My wife is an immigrant to the US, is from the elite class in her home country, has advanced degrees in university, and has tested with a high IQ. These all stack the deck against me for EVER being right when there is a disagreement. Generally, if I insist that my version of the story is correct, she will turn the argument into something that accuses me of mocking her, disrespecting her, etc.

    She'll even bring up past disagreements to re-hash them, even if the discussion we are having has nothing to do with the issue that caused the past disagreement. It's as if she needs to bring these past disagreements up in order to re-assert her superiority in being right.

    I think that her insecurities have caused her to be this way, and there's nothing that I can do, other than to always take the losing side, always acknowledge that I'm wrong (even if I know I'm right...and have the receipt/record/document to prove it!), and let her feel like she's always right. The problem is that it continues to falsely boost her self, and the future just gets darker...

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  10. Thank god someone else out there who is not foolish enough to think there wife is always right. My wife is a trained lawyer but has been a stay at home mother for the past 6 years. I am quick to admit when I am wrong, that is how I was brought up. My wife, on the other hand, rarely will admit error. Even when it is somthing very obvious like a speeding fine, crashed the car, lost her jewellery etc she will not admit error. I have tried may times to not mention her mistakes/accidents etc in the hope that this would boost her confidence and give her the environment to thrive and feel safe to admit her errors and say 'sorry' but this just seems to reinforce her view that she is never wrong and any problem is caused by someone else. I am sick of it. It seems I can be like all the other guys in happy relationships and just agree all the time but this seems really lame.

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  11. I had a terrible row with my wife yesterday. It's a long story and there are two sides.

    In short she got stuck at the airport in bad weather. She called me in a very angry state and asked me to look at other flights on the net. I was in a rush to get to a meeting (in a pub as it happens) so I looked quickly and saw it would cost another €75 to change her flight. She wanted another flight only two hours earlier than the one she was on. At this stage her later flight had not been cancelled.

    I argued that it was an expensive two hours. She swore at me and put the phone down. I sent her a text asking if I should book the flight. She sent another back saying I had to be kidding.. so I went out to my meeting.

    Half way through the meeting she called to ask me to book the flight. Her flight had now been cancelled. But I was half an hour away from the internet and she had ten minutes before the booking slot ended. She flew off the handle and cursed me in every horrible word she could think of.

    It turned out the flight that she missed was the only flight that left until 9pm that night.
    (neither of us were aware of this at that stage)

    She called me again. I cut my meeting short, went home and booked her on the later flight. But by now the damage was done. In her mind I had gone off down the pub and left her in her hour of need. I was the villain.

    Personally, I have apologised but I'm lying. I still think she should accept some of the blame. But in her mind she's the victim. Now she is still punishing me but I feel empty because I will never be heard.

    I feel that she is never wrong. In this case I think one could argue that the whole mess is her fault and due as in so many other cases to her anger problems.

    As usual I am the doormat. I pretend I am wrong and apologise until she 'forgives' me.

    I can't go on like this. What should I do?

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  12. To the previous anonymous,

    Your situation sounds awful, but not too unfamiliar. I would like to dedicate more time to this than just a quick follow-up comment, so keep checking back and within the week I'd like to do a whole post based on this comment.

    Thanks for being open with us.

    If you could, though, I'd love to get an e-mail from you telling me a little bit more about your relationship. How long have you been married? How has your relationship evolved over the years? What major storms have you gone through as a married couple? How have your pub visits played a part in the tension in your marriage?

    If you wouldn't mind e-mailing me a few more details using the "contact me" button in the right-hand column, that would be great.

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  13. I get up in the morning and apologize for being wrong.

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  14. You can't fix the insecurities of your wife no matter how hard you try. Some of them are just so hurt or angry that they need to make someone else responsible. I love the story of the guy who had a meeting yet his wife was treating him like her travel agent. If I ever asked my partner to do that she would quip... "Who do you think I am... your travel agent?" Why is it that the man is supposed to take care of the woman but the woman doesn't even cook a meal for you anymore because it's demeaning? Women in this country have been raised lately to think that they can heap all the criticism and expect you to do things for them and they don't ever have to do anything for you. It's gone completely in reverse and frankyl guys.... I don't need that kind of a relationship. I am a giver by nature and I do not want to have to keep score to get someone to do things for me. I would rather go without. Love is born of free will. demanding it to get it or get support from yoru mate is not worth it. I'd rather be alone.

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  15. This post and the comments on it really made me think about the way my difficulty to be wrong affects my spouse. I think for wives who choose to stay home, this can really be an issue. My husband and I got married after college. I had planned to go to medical school, but after careful consideration decided to pursue another career that would be more flexible and allow us to have children. I have to admit that it is hard to change how you see yourself. I think intelligent women who choose a life at home have trouble seeing their contribution and society only makes women in the home feel more devalued. I don't regret my decision at all, but that doesn't mean it isn't difficult. I think I am like the psychologist wife sometimes. I don't always respect myself and so that insecurity flares up during little arguments and I feel the need to assert my views. The ironic part is that I usually feel even worse and even more insecure after one of these fights! I would guess that one insecurity or another fuels most people who behave this way. If you have a spouse with this issue it might help to encourage them in areas that they may feel insecure about.

    After reading this article I decided to talk to my husband about this issue. I told him how I felt and that I'm sorry about the way I act when we argue, the way I belittle him and always have to be right, and I asked him to help me see myself more positively. This has helped tremendously. Knowing that he still sees me as the smart, know-it-all girl he married instead of the covered-in-baby-food woman I feel like most days and hearing him tell me how wonderful my contribution to our family is makes it a lot easier to say I'm wrong about the little things because I know I don't have to be right all the time because he loves me even when I'm wrong.

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