My husband, Trip, and I have been married for 14 years this year; we dated for five years before that. To be honest with you, he was one of the most thoughtless men I'd ever dated. The fact that we got married at all, I'm sure, is credited to nothing less than divine intervention. That being said, he is the best husband I could have ever hoped for. Every year we are together we love each other more and more. But that was not always the case.
This One Question Saved My Marriage
The "Honeymoon" Phase:
For most people, the first year of marriage is that lovey-dovey honeymoon phase. For us, however, because we had dated so long prior to getting married, I think we sort of skipped that phase. That first year was a rocky one, filled with arguments and power struggles.
I remember constantly second-guessing my decision to even get married; I felt trapped and was afraid that I somehow had cut myself off from the possibility of anything wonderful happening to me. Again, more credit to divine intervention for us surviving that first year.
A couple of years into our marriage, we went to a complimentary financial planning seminar. The only thing I remember at all from that seminar is that, at one point, one of the speakers rhetorically asked the audience, "Do you want to be happy, or do you want to be right?"
Immediately, I perked up. These were magical words—the perfect question designed to end all arguments. (Yes, this was my only take-away from a financial planning seminar.) And so, properly armed with this new "tool," for the next several years anytime an argument was not going my way, I tossed out that magic question.
Invariably, Trip stopped in his tracks and thoughtfully reflected on the question. I was the "winner" of many disagreements. I had found my "weapon" because my husband would, in fact, rather be happy than be right.
Here's how Trip changed everything:
One day it occurred to me that Trip never asked me that same question. Not once did that man ever use this same "tool" against me. I began asking myself, instead of asking him, if I would rather be happy or be right. When I started doing that, the real shifts in our marital relationship began to occur.
Before an argument ever got off the ground, I began to introspectively consider that single question. When I began to choose to be happy, when I began to actively listen, when I released my ego, all those unnecessary battles just dissipated. We still have disagreements, but they are calmer, more rational, and even more loving. Neither one of us is always right, but we are most definitely happier.
If you find you and your spouse are seemingly at constant or consistent odds with each other, don't do what I did and start asking your spouse if he/she would rather be happy or rather be right. Just ask yourself.