Julieanne Case From the Heart

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Relationship Advice: Give Up the Need to be Right


How many arguments have occurred with your spouse or significant other because each of you wanted to be right? If neither of you gave relented, how did it end? You didn’t speak to each other? You thought the other was an idiot or stubborn or just plain wrong? Did you ever wonder what in the world you saw in them in the first place? That maybe you made a big mistake here?

Think I’ve experienced any of that? You bet I have. I fought tooth and nail and got really mad. You see, I had to be right. For me, it was a matter of life and death. If I was wrong, I would die. In my warped thinking, I would have been devalued in my own eyes and I believed that my husband would think less of me as well. I could not chance that.

We had put in new oak floors and an oak railing around the staircase. We were sanding the railing, staining the wood and varnishing. Ron had taken over where I had stopped. He then accused me of something, something that I should have done but didn’t.

I stood there, for what seemed like hours, yet were only seconds – I hadn’t said a word- no reply – no retort – no counter response defending myself. In that moment I realized I had a huge choice. (For me, it was huge.) What he had said was true. I knew it. Do I tell him he’s right or fight to the standoff? I felt I would die, literally die physically, if I admitted he was right. The adrenalin was pumping and I was quaking in every fiber of my being.

I decided this was it. I had to do it even with everything inside going nuts. I admitted he was right. Surprise – I didn’t die. I stood there amazed, waiting. He never said another word. It was over, just like that. He went back to working on the railing and I continued what I was doing.

That was the start of my freedom. Over time it got easier and easier to not be right. Fights were averted. Life became more pleasant.

The clouds began to break up and the sunset began to come through

After the storm, the clouds began to break up and the sunset became visible

Soon I found that if he asked me a computer question or something I should know and I didn’t know, instead of bluffing or changing the subject, I began saying “I don’t know but I could research it” or simply “I don’t know”.

Funny thing is the other day I told him he was right and he said “What, I am right? Did you just say I am right?”. I laughed and said “Yah, don’t let it go to your head. I’m sure it was a fluke!” We both laughed.

It’s amazing to have that freedom to say another is right. It’s amazing to have the freedom to admit you are wrong and it’s okay. Now and then I will find I want to be right but if I know I’m wrong, I eventually admit it. Life is so much more pleasant.

Do you have arguments the make one of you wrong? What is the common element to your arguments? Have you noticed if you argue more or less these days?

Julieanne Case came from a left brained world, having been a computer programmer who worked on the Apollo missions and, due to circumstances orchestrated by the universe, joined the growing ranks of the right brained world starting in 2001. She became an energy healing practitioner in 2004 and has studied various techniques. She is a Reconnective Healing Pracitioner, a painter, and a blogger. She assists you in She assists you in reconnecting to your original blueprint, your essence, your joy and your well being!
  • http://www.imogenragone.com Imogen Ragone

    I can’t think of a specific example right now, but I know I have had experiences in the past when you end of arguing way past the time you realize you were actually wrong. I think you bring up something really important here, Julieanne, that it actually takes more courage to admit we were wrong. These days I think I argue less (but you could check with my husband…). Learning the Alexander Technique really helped me with this, as you learn to pause before you react, which gives you time (even if just for a split second) to make a choice in how you respond. You gave a perfect example of modeling this in your story.

    • http://julieannecasefromtheheart.com Julieanne Case

      Thanks, Imogene. I won’t ever forget that moment. It’s etched in my memory except for what he said I did! Isn’t that funny? But then again, it shows you that the accusation itself isn’t all that important at times. 

      • Nathalie Villeneuve

        Hi Julieanne, I loved reading your story…I felt that pause as well! You truly describe how you had to fight with all the fiber of your body not to start something with your husband that day… and good for you for that first victory! I use to fight with my husband about picking up around the house more… I have learned and grown so much in the last few years and personal development has produced wonderful new habits and eliminated nasty little stories I use to repeat in my head over and over… They are gone now… I love transformation and freedom!

  • http://twitter.com/AtticusUncensor Atticus Uncensored

    Great insight & great growth for you personally, Julieanne — kudos to you!  I think this is a universal feeling, regardless of the response (wanting to be right, I mean).  What a healthy freedom to know you don’t have to be right all the time!
    Dogs don’t’ have this dilemma — live & let live, doesn’t matter who’s right — but people have a harder time evolving to that point.  Happy to see you are thinking like a dog!

    Heidi & Atticus
    “commentary to give you paws…”

    • http://julieannecasefromtheheart.com Julieanne Case

      We can learn so much from dogs! They just give and receive love. I’ve heard that when you have a dilemma facing you that you simply ask What would love do?  Well, what would dogs do? seems equally appropriate!

  • Trish

    Julieanne,  Your example involving staining the staircase made me laugh (only because it sounded so familiar!).  It does feel as if the world will end sometimes if I can’t be right (but only if I actually am).  :-)   Hubby and I have struggled with this but, after 15 years, are getting better about it.  We recently were given advice that when we’re at an impasse (we both think we’re right and actually both may be right from our own perspective), then just take turns.  In one situation like that, we’ll agree that I’m right and then in the next situation, hubby gets to be right.  It actually has put a little bit of humor into these situations and reduced disagreements and unnecessary arguments).  Great article — thank you!

    caregiving. family. advocacy. 

    • http://julieannecasefromtheheart.com Julieanne Case

      How interesting. My reply to you disappeared. I find your solution very interesting. I can see how adding humor helps diffuse the issue. Laughter makes us take ourselves less seriously. But at one of those times, you don’t want to give up being right, ask yourself truly how important is it to you to be right in the grand scheme of things. Will it make or break the world? Will it truly add to your stature or just to your ego? 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=562575703 Laurie Owen

    I have to admit, I tend to be the “unmoving one” in the relationship.  That’s part of why I’m currently not in a relationship–but still open.  Thank you for this reminder.  I also have a great story.  One of my friends is a learning specialist.  She has a–shall we say tangential style of thinking–while her spouse is a direct thinker.  When they bought their house, she declared it to be “perfect” (which in her mind meant perfect as a palette on which to paint her dreams).  When they moved in and started listing all the projects she wanted to do , he said, “I thought you said it’s perfect”.  Needless to say, they had to come to a mutual definition of perfect.  They both still laugh about this, and he still shakes his head in disbelief.  A very cute couple, who’ve managed to figure out how they can both be so different and yet both be so right.

    • http://julieannecasefromtheheart.com Julieanne Case

      What a great story! And obviously they are good at communicating. How great for them both. Yes, I was very unmoving and so was and sometimes still is unmoving. If I truly know I’m right, I will say You know, we aren’t going to agree on this so let’s leave it at this. Other times, I’m saying You could be right. It really doesn’t amount to a hill of beans! LOL!

  • Nancy

    Great job my friend – It’s funny that I posted a positive thought about either of being happy or being right.  I chose being HAPPY!

    For that is where my greatest joy is – in Happiness – I owe it to myself!

    In love and light,

    • http://julieannecasefromtheheart.com Julieanne Case

      I so agree and we both know that happiness is a choice. One can even choose to be happy in the middle of a crisis, remain centered and bring your best self to do what is needed.  Joy is a birthright along with worthiness.  I join you in your choice! 

  • http://www.thereflectivewriter.com/ Judy Stone-Goldman

    I really like connecting “freedom” to the ability to let someone else be right. That place of standoff is so uncomfortable, and yet sometimes I’ve dug in my heels and refused to budge. Happily, part of the changes I’ve made is letting go of needing to end up “on top” (e.g., being right). I’d much rather have serenity and freedom than to be an official “winner” of some private struggle.

    Judy Stone-Goldman
    The Reflective Writer
    Personal-Professional Balance Through Writing

    • http://julieannecasefromtheheart.com Julieanne Case

      I’m with you! Although sometimes that little bugger just doesn’t want to let go!  LOL! 

  • http://twitter.com/MosaicTutoring Cory Zacker

    Although letting go and admitting you’re wrong is difficult, it feels so much better and leads to much more peaceful times. Of course, I never admit I am wrong because I never am, but that’s just me. Ha! Of course, I’m kidding. Thanks for sharing this, Julieanne.

    • http://julieannecasefromtheheart.com Julieanne Case

      I was starting to think Uh-oh until I saw your Ha!  You had me!  

  • http://www.vickidellojoio.com Vicki Dello Joio

    I think I’ve been so stubborn about this for years, Julieanne. Luckily for my current relationship (going on 18 years now!) my partner and I began to learn a fantastic paradigm in the 1st year of our relationship about how to communicate differently, turning confrontation into conversation with the work developed by Sharon Strand Ellisin called POwerful, Non-Defensive Communication. Now, unless we are being humorous about “who is right” we tend to get really curious about how each other sees things

    • http://julieannecasefromtheheart.com Julieanne Case

      That is a great way as long as each is willing to do the work of communicating.  I’ve done that with my husband who I can tell is not getting what I have to say so I begin by saying “Let me say this in another way because I’m obviously not communicating it as I  need to for you to hear” or something to that effect. Course he’s on his own when I’m not hearing him! LOL!  

      • http://www.vickidellojoio.com Vicki Dello Joio

        You are so right that things work well when both are willing to communicate. At the same time, one of the things I love about this particular system is that you can learn to stay out of a power struggle even when the other person doesn’t choose to cooperate…

  • http://www.abigailgorton.com/ Abigail Gorton

    Funny… I think I am OK with being wrong, especially at home. I value peace too highly. We sometimes reach an impasse where ther is no right or wrong, just differing opinions. I am all for agreeing to differ but that stresses my husband… He almost doesn’t ‘t care who is right, he just doesn’t want to let it go until we agree. But when it is an opinion, we are not going to agree, so there we are disagreeing about the fact we don’t agree, more than what it is we don ‘t agree about….

    • http://julieannecasefromtheheart.com Julieanne Case

      Whoa, you could dizzy in that paragraphy! LOL!. I truly believe that when someone is not willing to let the two parties disagree, there is some investment in their opinion that needs verification which they need to maintain their own position. When that happens, gently ask him why he needs you to agree with his opinion. Why does he need you to agree with it?  I may do that myself if that happens. There have been times that I didn’t care enough and just agreed so we could move on. Relationships are really not easy to navigate but they can be very rewarding.

      • http://www.abigailgorton.com/ Abigail Gorton

        I think he is just really stressed at the idea that we don’t agree – scared that it is the start of some bigger issue. It’s not. I just prefer the light blue paint to the dark blue paint. That’s all.

        • http://julieannecasefromtheheart.com Julieanne Case

          Next time if you really want the light blue, tell him quietly and mention how much you love him but you really really want the blue!  Also suggest that if the light blue doesn’t look as well as you think, you can easily cover it with the dark blue! Give him the chance to choose the light blue for you!

  • http://www.ourlittlebooks.com Candace C. Davenport

    lol- I just came across a little piece of paper that my husband wrote and signed and dated (from 1982!) which said: “you were right and I was wrong”. I showed it to him the other day and he laughed, saying that never happened! So, funny that your post is just on that same issue!

    I think that the right/wrong issue is not just for relationships. It really is something that people need to be aware of in their business as well. I know if people ask me a question about publishing that I don’t know, there is always a tiny struggle before I will say that I don’t know but I’ll find out. I think that struggle is over the fact that I probably want to be seen as an expert and if I don’t know absolutely everything, then that won’t happen. But I long ago recognized that people don’t really think like that and they are very appreciative of honesty and the willingness to find the answers.

    • http://julieannecasefromtheheart.com Julieanne Case

      You got it, Candace! People are appreciative of honesty and your willingness to still find the answer. And I’m hoping it shows them they  have the same privilege to say I don’t know. We all can teach by example.

  • http://www.GreatHealthIsPossible.com/ Maureena Bivins, PhD

    Julieanne, you’re probably describing typical “flight” – “fight” behavior.  If our internal  “DOS” system is set to this mode, then it’s easy to misinterpret person-to-person interactions as threatening or challenging which puts us on the defensive.  In this state it’s nearly impossible to be social since our nervous system is shouting out to us “danger, danger” and our rational mind slips away as our body begins to mobilize for action, even though we are not in danger.  When I am feeling overwhelmed, almost any benign comment from my husband can create a response in me, as if I am being attacked, when in fact I’m not.  Learning how to recognize when I am in this state and to be aware of my triggers has been so helpful to me and has helped us move as a couple into a more fluid interactive ‘give and take’, ‘go with the flow’ relationship.  What a relief!

    Maureena Bivins, PhD
    Acupuncture & Somatic Therapy

    Curious. Committed.  Compassionate.
    What do you look for in a health care provider?

    • http://julieannecasefromtheheart.com Julieanne Case

      So that what goes on!  Yes, I’m learning to tell him when something he says or does triggers a response in me. It has really helped. Now I’ll watch for that state. Thanks for the info.

  • http://brandymychals.com/ Brandy Mychals

    I talk about this a lot in the Character Code System – there are a few who have that essential need for Certainty and are definitely more likely to fight to be right – LOL! I love when we learn to really know who we are (and are partners) and just accept ALL of us – then we don’t need to apologize for who we are…and can let go of fighting to be right. I love that you shared your story and how it felt in that moment – great visual – felt like I was there with you! :-)

    • http://julieannecasefromtheheart.com Julieanne Case

      Thanks, Brandy.  I sometimes feel sorry for someone when I’m interacting with them and I feel their absolute need to be right. It’s not a fun place to be.

  • http://www.cherylmcdonald-art.com/ Cheryl McDonald

    great awareness Julieanne. Definitely can make a relationship work better when the steam of being right or wrong gets taken away. The whole dynamic changes into one of cooperation instead of competition. Thanks!

    • http://julieannecasefromtheheart.com Julieanne Case

      You’re welcome. Thanks for comments. Now and then though that little devil of being right kicks in. I noticed it rise up yesterday but I saw it. However in this situation I was so very right! :)

      • http://www.cherylmcdonald-art.com/ Cheryl McDonald

        I know exactly what you mean Julieanne. I am learning to keep a leash on the Monster. :)

  • http://brendamjones.com/ Brenda Jones

    I’m never wrong, lol.  Misinformed, maybe… but making the right decision on the incorrect info.  Yeah, that’s it :-P  I’m doing the Love Dare with some acquaintances I’ve met at various network marketing events.  The first challenge… if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything.  Why is that so hard sometimes?  So what were you wrong about?

    • http://julieannecasefromtheheart.com Julieanne Case

      I can’t even remember what I did wrong. In this case, he said I did something that wasn’t  good I think. I usually denied any wrongdoing ever. But I had done whatever it was he said. I knew it. I remember standing there truly knowing that he was correct and he was angry. It probably caused him some extra work. I accepted full responsibility this time, and admitted I did it. And no more discussion followed. It was all over, just like that. And I doubt I’ll ever remember what it was. So that’s another point. Most of the arguments over whose right or wrong are really unimportant in the grand scheme of things. They are not that important to create angry words and arguments. They are mostly over nothing at all.

  • Wendee Neilson

    This used to be me too.  Although, I mostly relate this with my brother.  We both would fight because we each had to be right.  Having trained as a coach, I’ve learned that even though we are brother and sister and come from the same set of parents, we have lived different lives and have different takes on life.  His view is so different from mine, yet now, it doesn’t mean it’s wrong, just different.  Same with my viewpoint. (although, I don’t know that he has learned this yet) so I just let him think he’s right because I don’t want to fight.  So far, mostly good.

    • http://julieannecasefromtheheart.com Julieanne Case

      Or just allow him his own opinion. At some point, you can say to him, let’s just agree to disagree. I still love you. I just don’t see it as you do. It may take a few iterations and it may never take but at least you are showing him another way!  Good luck. I know he’s a tough one! 

  • http://twitter.com/jenniferpeek Jennifer Peek

    When I was much younger, I always felt like I needed to be right or to at least have the last word.  It wasn’t until I realized how much stress and underlying anger I was creating for myself all the time (being ready to fight if someone questioned me), that I was able to start letting someone else be right.  As you said, it’s very freeing in a variety of different ways.

  • http://susan-berland.com/ Susan Berland

    We are cut from the same cloth, Julianne! For me, I looked at everything in my life in black and white – no grey. If I made a mistake, I was wrong, bad, etc. I was the mistake, not the mistake. Thankfully, like you, it’s not like that most of the time. It makes for a much more harmonious loving relationship.

    Susan Berland
    A Picture’s Worth

    • http://julieannecasefromtheheart.com Julieanne Case

      I’m happy for both of us! Yes, I was a black and white person. Now I work on just observing and dropping all judgment. That’s a difficult task! Aw, there is a judgment. Caught it!  So need to change my thinking on that!

  • http://twitter.com/salvatier Dennis Salvatier

    I can relate. I’m usually the one that’s right, only because I’m the one that does all the reflecting and thinking. It can get on my wife’s nerves, but I have learned to just let go. I think it just comes with age. :)

    • http://julieannecasefromtheheart.com Julieanne Case

      Now, Dennis, can you admit being wrong? You just said that you are the one who is usually right. So what are you relating to here? LOL!

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