While no one should be encouraged to sacrifice core beliefs, as a divorce lawyer, I have seen far too many marriages dissolve because spouses get entrenched in their positions on things you would never believe (well maybe you would?). People argue about spending time with in-laws and which TV shows to watch, what time to eat dinner and which size TV to purchase. It is true that sometimes the final straw is an argument over something petty, but what if more couples learned to bite their tongue and just let the other be “wrong”? A marriage is not a contest or a war. There is no winner between two spouses when they argue, only losers all around, especially the kids. Yet here we are a few months after one of the most contentious presidential elections in U.S. history, and in my practice I see households more divided than ever. And while I certainly do not blame politicians for the perhaps increased divorce rate, certainly spouses must adapt better at internalizing and quelling their often oppositional positions and beliefs when the debate is not going to help their relationship. Spouses should agree that each may feel differently about things such as the presidential elections and they should keep those discussions calm, especially in front of their kids. But that is not how couples behave. So many people want to be “right”. It reminds me of one of the thousands of divorce related jokes I have been told over the years “You can be right, or you can be happy”. So why don’t we think about that? Maybe it’s because things happen quickly, in private and we get defensive. We worry that not disagreeing proves the other side is “right”. But even then, so what? So here’s my suggestion. Do not fight back. Do not respond. Sure there will be resistance “you have no response?”, “why won’t you tell me how you feel?”, etc. But think of a very good uniform reply. Maybe something like “I’d like to reconsider my position and maybe discuss it another time”. Or “You have made some good points, may I think about them for a bit”? It just seems that letting the other one win, or feel like they have made their point, may help the relationship. What’s the harm? And hopefully, the argument will die and both sides will be more likely to move on and to respect each other. Putting petty arguments behind you, certainly may help, at least for the day to day relationship. And leaving controversial subjects alone, allowing the negative interaction to subside and drift into the past, can only help. After all, wouldn’t it be better if spouses could just learn to do what Elsa sang about in Disney’s instant classic “Frozen”, “Let it go”?
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