Should you admit you are wrong when you are not?

So I became engaged about a month ago to a beautiful woman. I couldn’t be more happy. Unfortunately, some of the most common “advice” I get is to recognize that I am always wrong and the woman is always right. In my mind, this just seems wrong. I see my position in every fight as one of these three:

  1. Wrong. I made a mistake and know it based on rethinking the situation.
  2. Right, though I can’t prove it. I think she just got unreasonably upset, and it’s not something I should have to apologize for and that there is something else bothering her.
  3. Right, and I can show it. This applies more when arguing about an important topic like moral issues and Church teaching.

So I know I should apologize in the first case and I should stick to my guns in the third case, but what about the second case? Should I apologize and learn to simply say “Yes, dear” as I’ve been advised? Or should I stick to my guns by try to be sympathetic? I feel that saying I’m wrong and apologizing when I am not can start a dangerous thread of dishonesty throughout the relationship, but I’m just not sure what I CAN do. If I stick to my guns, it simply becomes a battle of the wills. Normally I can “win,” but I don’t see it as winning since I only win after it escalates into a bigger fight. Yet I don’t want to simply lie and get to the point where I feel emasculated every time I have a discussion with my fiance (soon to be wife).

I don’t feel that I did a good job explaining myself, but hopefully others have experienced it and know what I’m talking about.

Not quite sure I understand…but if she is upset with you about something, and you don’t think she has any reason to be…well, obviously she is upset about something. I would say “I’m sorry you’re upset. Can we talk about it? Would you rather talk later? Or want me to just leave you alone?” Or something to that affect. That acknowledges you know she is feeling bad, but not saying “I did something wrong, and I’m sorry” if you didn’t. And puts the ball in her court if she wants to talk, or knows she’s being unreasonable and just needs to be left alone for a bit to get her attitude re-adjusted.

Does that make sense?

I have not been married for a long time, but what I have found works wonders for me (and I am a woman, btw) is to make it less about who is right and who is wrong, or who is to blame, and who isn’t. My husband and I are far from having a perfect marriage, but when we consciously make an effort to avoid making our disagreements about who’s better or who’s right, they tend to get resolved a LOT faster.

Even if you are “right,” you can still concede that what you are saying (or how you are saying it) could be hurtful. You can express understanding for your wife’s (or anyone’s, really) feelings or position without agreeing with them.

Now, a lot of this depends on the person you are disagreeing with to agree to “fight fair.”

Also, if you are disagreeing and can’t agree, you can always take a break. Especially if it’s not something that has to be decided right this instant (and that’s most things). Saying, “I want to discuss this later after cooling off” is not giving up/backing down/losing.

How important is it?

Some things really aren’t worth fighting over. The important thing is that the relationship be protected, preserved and nurtured. I can be right as rain and nobody needs to know it. It is better to be peaceful than right. This comes easier for some of us than for others. It is a virtue to be patient with those in error, BTW, so I benefit from not pressing points when I’m correct.

If the issue is something like “honey, we ate at your mother’s three times this week, can we spend some time alone?” try to keep in mind that the life time your about to begin together could be 50, 60, 70 years long and that time alone with abound down the road and if honey wants to go to mom’s, let it go and thank God you don’t have to spend money at the restaurant.

If the issue is something like contraception or the religious education of future children, then speak up for Heaven’s sake because (I hate to say it) annulling realities need to be discussed PRIOR to the wedding. If a fight ensues about such things, then you are better off knowing before you say “I do.”

But these are just my opinions and I’m no expert on anything but ordering Pizza because my lights went out.

Glenda

Yes, exactly. It doesn’t matter who is right and who is wrong- often in arguments there really is no right or wrong.

If my husband says or does something upsetting to me, even if he doesn’t think it should have upset me (and that is key), the point is that I am upset. Whether or not he thinks he is “right” or I shouldn’t be upset is completely irrelevant. All I want to hear is “I’m sorry I made you upset, let’s talk about it” which is very different than “I’m sorry you’re upset” which basically means you’re upset = your problem because I did nothing wrong.

Feeling upset isn’t right or wrong, it’s just an emotion. Now, there is a problem if there is yelling and door slamming or other problematic behaviors, but don’t ever make her feel wrong for being upset. It’s the worst thing you can do, because it will just make her more upset that you don’t care that she is upset. I guarantee you that if you treat her feelings, whatever they are, as valid, and not try to undermine them because you think she has “no reason” to be upset, your arguments will go much more smoothly.

Apologies aren’t about the person making the apology. An apology is not a statement or admission of fault. An apology is a loving act intended to make another person feel better.

Apologies aren’t about the person making the apology. An apology is not a statement or admission of fault. An apology is a loving act intended to make another person feel better.

As a wife, I say…

If she is upset, esp if it is independent of or antecendent to anything going on between you two, don’t argue, and *don’t *try to fix it. Just be sympathetic: oh, that’s terrible, honey! hugs, offers of chocolate or making tea, that sort of thing, no matter what you think of the importance of whatever it is.

If she seems stressed, don’t upset her further by bringing up That Topic (which is good advice for her as well!). If she seems to be getting upset in a conversatioj, then dump the issue and respond to her feelings. You can say something like, oh, I didn’t realize this would be a bad time to discuss this, let’s pu it off… and then hug her, etc.

If she is upset about a problem at work or similar, it is unlikely that she wants to brainstorm solutions. What she wants is a hug and and offer of chocolate or tea…

(The chocolate and tea are just examples, btw.)

From a man’s point of view, women get upset very easily and then behave irrationally when you respond rationally. All a woman wants sometimes is just to be able to toally fall apart and be hugged. No logic, no solutions, just love and peace.

Also, watch how she responds to you. If she offers you broth when you are upset or asks if you want to take a walk, that is probably what she would like.

Congratulations on your engagement :slight_smile: Be honest, but time it right!

No, you shouldn’t. That doesn’t mean that “now” is the time to get into it. Most of the time conflicts come up it is best to wait a while and talk about it later. Never yell. That’s the best advice. Don’t scream, yell, fight, or argue. At least every year about your anniversary you should remember your vows and examine your conscience about whether or not you have lived up to them.

Now, the whole she’s right and you’re wrong nonsense is just common babble. Chalk it up to living in an idiotic, misandristic society. You should not be submissive to your wife. That isn’t an absolute statement encompassing every conceivable scenario. Obviously there are times when you should, but society seems to want men to be more effeminate.

This is a paradigm of our modern culture but it’s not a realistic or happy-making basis for marriage. A mature person (man or woman) recognizes when they’re in the wrong and takes appropriate measures. Someone who insists on the “rightness” of their position at all times is not mature enough for marriage. Hopefully you know your fiancée well enough by now to know which camp she falls into.

In my mind, this just seems wrong. I see my position in every fight as one of these three:

  1. Wrong. I made a mistake and know it based on rethinking the situation.
  2. Right, though I can’t prove it. I think she just got unreasonably upset, and it’s not something I should have to apologize for and that there is something else bothering her.
  3. Right, and I can show it. This applies more when arguing about an important topic like moral issues and Church teaching.

You’ll find most disagreements will fall into a grey area where you’re both right or both wrong or a bit of both. Those are the tricky ones and require the most patience. Always be willing to admit (at least to yourself) that you could be in the wrong. This comes from a woman who used to be what Dr. Phil calls a “right-fighter” – in other words, someone who has to be right at all costs.

For #2, what might seem unreasonable to you may not be to her. Warning: For heaven’s sake dont’ say “you’re being unreasonable”! You may have to say you’re sorry she’s upset and leave it, at least for the moment. If you want to insist that you didn’t do anything so egregious and have nothing to apologize for, then you’re being the right-fighter.

You shouldn’t, but women do it all the time.
Make the issue about the issue, not blame, or fault. You will get more resolution that way, concentrating on fixing the problem…

But DO say I’m sorry when you need to. Don’t do the nonapology thing…
“I’m sorry if you took my words the wrong way”, or “if you misunderstood me”, or anything like that. "I’m sorry if you"is not an apology and she knows it.

And never forget to say thank you to her. Especially for the big things.

OP, here’s a blog you might find useful to read through.

dalrock.wordpress.com/

Here are two posts I think are worth considering first.

dalrock.wordpress.com/2013/11/30/twisted-scripture/

dalrock.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/headship-game/

OP, your appreciation of marital disputes needs some deepening, because those aren’t the only possibilities.

First off, you are confusing disputes about what ought to be agreed-upon behaviors with disputes about objective facts. The teaching of the Church is an objective fact. How husbands who are not going to be home on time for dinner ought to handle that situation is an agree-upon behavior. The latter ought to be viewed not as “I’m right” vs. “You’re right” but “How shall we decide to handle this situation?”

IOW, in the latter situation, you can say, “I don’t think I’m objectively violating any moral law, but if this upsets you, then I can either choose not to do that, you can choose not to get upset about it, or we can find some compromise somewhere between.” Then you talk about how you as a couple want to handle the situation. One hopes that you are both eager to be the one who is most accommodating to the other, as two lovers usually want to do (if they stop and think).

Your mutual bread is buttered on the side of mutual forbearance. Choose that.

One other point: In my experience, it is not uncommon for both of you to have done something wrong. I would highly recommend that if you are wrong, you apologize, even if you are not the most wrong. Actually, especially if you are not the most wrong! You won’t regret this habit, as apologizing first makes it easier for your spouse to apologize to you.

When apologizing, give reasons first, or they become excuses. “It was a wild day, but I should have called you to let you know what was happening. I’m sorry” is an apology. “I’m sorry, I should have called you, but it was a wild day” is a more of an excuse. The former says “I don’t want this to happen again” and the latter says, “This is one of those things that happen, so cope with it.” Learn to give apologies that your wife will think feel like apologies; you won’t regret that either.

I would say to your fiancé, “I keep getting this advice, that I should always recognize I’m wrong and you’re always right. I guess they’re trying to be cute, but I think that is insulting to you, as if I should always assume that no matter what you are going to be too stubborn for us to come to an agreement if we have a difference of opinion. It is not as if we are children who always have to have things our own way and can’t learn to see the other person’s way of thinking. What do you think?”

If you put it that way, I think she’ll try to live up to your high opinion of her maturity. (The only drawback, of course, is that you’ll have to live up to it, too, but you’ll not regret that.) :wink: :smiley:

xzereus said:

“1) Wrong. I made a mistake and know it based on rethinking the situation.
2) Right, though I can’t prove it. I think she just got unreasonably upset, and it’s not something I should have to apologize for and that there is something else bothering her.
3) Right, and I can show it. This applies more when arguing about an important topic like moral issues and Church teaching.”

There are a lot more options. Let’s say, for example, that your wife wants to send the kids to preschool in order to 1) have a break 2) provide little friends for the kids 3) make friends for herself 4) get them ready for a school routine, and you think preschool is unnecessary and a waste of money and just a source of unnecessary illness to your family. There is no right or wrong there (except in extreme cases–for instance if you had no money at all). There are literally hundreds of other similar possibilities–you want lasagna, she wants stir fry, you want to set up an office in the dining room, she wants to keep it as a dining room, she thinks the living room needs a new coat of paint, you think it’s just fine, etc. You will find that 80-90% of your disagreements fall into that category.

By the way, do you notice that in your breakdown, 2 out 3 options have you being right? That’s not a great sign.

I also notice that you say your fiancee is “beautiful” rather than brilliant, clever, frugal, prudent, generous and hard-working. Is “beautiful” really all there is to her?

Don’t get married until you have a better decision-making process and genuinely respect your fiancee. At the moment, I’m not hearing a lot of respect.

By the way, I’m not sure if this is at all relevant, but I would suggest doing a personal finance course together as part of your marriage prep.

There is a fourth option that you have not considered, and I think that option occurs far more oftern than you might otherwise thiink:

  1. You are both right, but are looking at the situation from differing viewpoints. Marriage is so much more than proving yourself right. It is not emasculating in the least to attempt to see things from your wife’s viewpoint.

If one blind man feels an elephant’s trunk and thinks it is a snake, and another blind man feels an elephant’s leg and thinks it is a tree, they are both right–and they are both wrong. Just depends on your perspective.

EasterJoy…this is really good. I never quite thought about this specifically, but it is a great point. Thanks for posting!!

I appreciate all of your replies and, for the most part, found most of the advice very helpful.

As for Xantippe, I would appreciate it if you did not attempt to read so much into my post that you believe you have a sort of insight into my relationship. I don’t consider it fair to imply that I don’t find my fiancée brilliant, clever, frugal, prudent, generous and hard-working simply because I chose to call her beautiful. I do greatly respect her and think it is unfair of you to pretend that you have somehow divined otherwise. I would appreciate it if you do not post again on this thread as I am looking for practical advice on how to approach fights when I’m not sure what to do, not opinions about the state of my relationship from a complete stranger.

As for the other comments, I think that there are some good points made that I am mixing different types of arguments (ones about objective things such as church teaching vs subjective things such as preference). I could give some specifics of a fight and situations where I think that I have this difficulty, but I don’t feel it would be fair for me to share the details of a fight that we have had, so I’ll have to satisfy myself for now with the current responses. In particular, I found this little snippet very useful and will definitely remember it!

Again, thank you everyone for the responses!

I don’t agree with the advice you’ve been given to lie, always accept blame, whether you deserve it or not. Over time, I think you’d not only get tired of lying but also resentful.

You might need to decide what issues are important enough to be concerned about and what others are relatively insignificant, in the scheme of things, and better to simply “let go”.

So no, don’t always accept blame for things you didn’t do, or you might later end up having your liver explode, strokes, heart attacks, and other stress-related illnesses from sheer frustration and resentment, repressed anger.

Further, this lying, and trying to tell your partner whatever you think she wants to hear is less than sincere.

Now, this is not to say one should get into fights. One can disagree, gently.

If you take that above advice, you’d be setting yourself up as a “doormat” of types, and I don’t see how you’d ever have an equal relationship like that.

So no, trust your instincts. You’re right to ignore that advice. As well meaning as it may be, I think it’s misguided and potentially damaging for all concerned.

xzereus said:

“As for Xantippe, I would appreciate it if you did not attempt to read so much into my post that you believe you have a sort of insight into my relationship. I don’t consider it fair to imply that I don’t find my fiancée brilliant, clever, frugal, prudent, generous and hard-working simply because I chose to call her beautiful. I do greatly respect her and think it is unfair of you to pretend that you have somehow divined otherwise. I would appreciate it if you do not post again on this thread as I am looking for practical advice on how to approach fights when I’m not sure what to do, not opinions about the state of my relationship from a complete stranger.”

Literally the only positive thing you said about your fiancee was that she was beautiful–that’s not very respectful. Then you set up three different options for disagreements, 2 out of 3 of which would have you being right. You gave no option for “the fiancee is right, but she can’t prove it,” which would seem (in all fairness) to belong on the list (perhaps as option #4). Furthermore, as other people have mentioned, you omitted “it’s a matter of opinion” (option #5?). I would add that there should also be an option for “right on substance, but poor execution” (option #6?). For example, let’s say that your future wife decides that your family should starting giving a certain percentage of income to charity, and then she does that without consulting you in advance. Alternately, let’s say you start an important (but very disruptive) household project–but without giving advance warning to your wife. That would be a #6–you will find that that one happens a lot.

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