A good friend of mine loves to joke that the secret to his successful marriage is that he’s learned that you can be right or happy, and he’s chosen happy.
The motivation for this joke is really to poke at his partner, and to get laughs. He loves to pretend he’s this poor hen-pecked husband.
However, a recent spat with my own partner made me question if there isn’t a kernel of some truth to this statement. Of course, I’m not saying that the key to a good relationship is to become subservient to the needs of the other. But this situation did make me realize that sometimes we lose sight of the big picture of what we want, and choose behaviours which actually take us further away from our ideal picture, instead of closer to it.
It was a Friday afternoon, and I was excited to be done the work week. I couldn’t wait to get out to our trailer where I planned to meet my husband, crack open a bottle of wine, and kick back and relax together. He was not exactly in a similar mindset. In fact, he had been dealing with some chaos that our not-so-obedient pet dog had inflicted upon our otherwise happy home. Instead of the tranquil afternoon I envisioned, I found myself headed to town to pick up necessary supplies to ameliorate the situation.
Hubby had been stressed to the max, and I felt like he’d been unnecessarily terse with me. All I could think was that the afternoon was ruined. I’d been so excited to spend time with him, but now I was mad. After all, the dog’s behaviour wasn’t my fault. And I hadn’t exactly had a stress-free day at work, and you didn’t see me taking it out on everyone!
Thank goodness the drive for supplies was long enough that I had a chance to think. Why did the afternoon need to be ruined? Sure, my feelings had been hurt, but, truthfully, I was probably taking personally something that was nothing more than a general expression of frustration. I know I’ve unwittingly snapped at people when I’m in the middle of a crisis. It’s not like this is the picture my husband had of how this day was going to go either.
I realized that the outcome of this situation was going to be decided based on how I chose to behave. Did I have a reason to be upset? Sure! But was passive-aggressively punishing my husband for his bad mood going to get me what I wanted? Not a chance.
Did I want to be right, or did I want to be happy?
I could have returned and picked a fight about his grumpy mood and how he could have handled things more calmly. Instead, I chose to acknowledge that he’d had a hard day, helped him quickly deal with the problem, and next thing I knew, the picture of where I’d wanted to be an hour prior had come to fruition.
It makes me wonder…. how often do we miss out on getting what we really want because we got caught up in our own perspective and feelings, and want others to admit that they were wrong and we were right?