The Strong-Willed Spouse: When Being Right Can Make Everything Wrong

“Don’t be stubborn like a horse or mule. They need a bit and bridle in their mouth to restrain them, or they will not come near you.” Ps. 32:9

 You’re in the middle of another argument with your partner. They’re driving you crazy. Can’t they see that you’re obviously right, and they’re so totally wrong? Their sense of logic confounds you. You can hardly believe that they aren’t budging from their stance. Why don’t they see that your way makes total sense, and their way is just, well… stupid?

You know it’s bad when even the smallest thing starts another round of bickering, tension and eye rolling — where to eat, what movie to see, whose responsibility is this or that, when-this-or-that was supposed to occur. What starts as a small difference in viewpoint ends up becoming a righteous, no-win, my way-or-the-highway yelling and screaming temper tantrum or an icy-cold, freeze-out.

How to recognize a strong-willed couple:

A good rule of thumb is that if you and your partner believe that your way is the only correct way, no matter how much evidence is presented.

Behavioral clues of a strong-willed couple:

  • Don’t listen to one another
  • Become defensive and argumentative
  • Feel like you and your partner are on different teams
  • Emotionally shut down OR arm up for a war
  • Think “I’m right, you’re wrong.” “This is YOUR fault.” “YOU must change and do it my way or else”
  • Never resolve anything

Answering yes to more than one of the above items is a good indicator that you and/or your partner are strong-willed.

Helpful questions to ask:

  • Why do I NEED to be right?
  • Is STICKING to my position that important?
  • Would I rather be RIGHT or HAPPY?
  • Is there room to LIGHTEN UP and relax about this?
  • If this was my BEST FRIEND, how would I behave?
  • What would it be like if I chose to COOPERATIVE AND AGREEABLE?

Six Ways to Stop Power Struggles:

  1. Admit to one another that power struggles are hurtful and could ruin a wonderful relationship.Acknowledge that both of you tend to get locked into a position, forgetting each other’s feelings. Acknowledge the detrimental impact power struggles have on your relationship and that there is a better way of relating.
  2. You must hold your opinions loosely.When we hold rigidly to our point of view this leaves little room for the other to disagree or to simply see things from another angle. While we commonly refer to this as controlling. Remember, there are many different ways of viewing the same situation.
  3. Ask that your opinion be considered, assuring your spouse that you will consider their opinion.This will take practice. Listen to what they are saying. Assure them that you can see the validity of their perspective. Slow down the process, taking time to truly listen to each other, guarding against the temptation of preparing your counter-attack while either is talking.
  4. Empathize with your spouse and ask that they empathize with you.A powerful bridge is built between two people when they truly walk in the other’s shoes. A sigh of relief often occurs when we let the other person know we see and understand what they are saying. We, too feel relief and actually experience healing when our mate offers empathy. Empathy causes us to change our style, seeing and feeling the impact of what we’re doing to our mate.
  5. Refuse to get into power struggles or arguments.Agree that you will not bicker or push your point of view on the other person. Interrupt fruitless arguing and hurtful bickering. Reassure each other that peace and harmony is sweeter than any victory obtained through argument.
  6. Hold each other accountable for change.Changing old patterns is difficult. It is much easier to slip into old ways of doing things. However, this is an opportunity for both of you to grow. Make an agreement that you are both going to change old patterns, allowing for minor slips to occur on the path to healthy relating.

© Copyright December 28, 2018, TurningPoint Counseling Services, All Rights Reserved.