Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Price Is Right

“Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy”

-Dr. Philip McGraw

From an early age we’re taught as young boys and girls to seek out the correct answer. Even before preschool we’re on this quest to figure things out and understand how “our” world works. Year after year in school and with an endless supply of real life situations, we’re thrown an infinite number of opportunities to find the “answers” of life. Now that’s all fine and dandy in the classroom even in the workplace, but in a relationship being correct doesn’t always equal the best answer.

Far too often we, men and women, suffer from what I like to call “Be-right-itis”. This is the disease of having to be right at all costs. Symptoms include; always having to have the last word, the correcting of his/her significant other in any situation or company, the inability to move on in a subject until the acknowledgement of being correct has been made and so on. If left untreated it can result in the alienation from friends and family, termination from work as well as an inability to sustain relationships. Yes Berightitis has taken the lives and livelihoods of millions. This subtle and silent killer can lay dormant in the body for years but once activated there is virtually no stopping it.

In relationships it’s important to remember that it’s not a tit for tat situation. What one person needs and wants doesn’t necessarily apply to the other so “an eye for an eye” logic doesn’t apply. An example; when a man returns home from work in most cases the best thing you can do for him ladies is leave him alone! Men need decompression time before they’re ready to make the adjustment to being home. Bills, what happened today, even dinner plans should all be put on hold for the first 20-30 minutes upon his arrival. The reason is that men need to gradually settle in, if this isn’t done he will bring whatever issues the day has had for him into the relationship and home. Now the other side to this is men won’t give you that same grace period. If your man is in your face the second you walk in the door because he wants your attention…let him! Men are driven by the ego turn him away at 5pm and good luck getting his attention for the rest of the week. Pride will stop him from “putting himself out there” again and there will be distance and silence which is the last thing you want. True you may need that same time to gather yourself and your feelings maybe hurt when he turns from you as well but that’s a pill you have to swallow. Yes you’re right to make your case the question however is who will be more affected by the distance? Women are better at the emotional bounce back. He can make up for it during the rest of the night by paying you enough attention, you most likely cannot. Food and sex may pacify him, good luck though getting that same attention when you come home tomorrow. No it’s not fair…but so what.

Men know how much women NEED to talk. We know that you have to give every emotional detail to every story of every event that happened in your day. We know that to keep a happy home and to have an engaging relationship we have to sit through every unfunny, uninteresting, dragged out, overcomplicated story you want to share. We know that conversation and active listening makes you feel validated and important. It gives value to your feelings and you feel closer to us when you share. Yes we get it yes we understand it we just don’t feel the same way. Unless it’s a subject we’re really into, or it gives us an opportunity to showcase what we know, men don’t really want to talk. The smart ones do it to keep the peace, but deep down inside we’re all thinking, “Why can’t you be like us?” Because you’re not men! You’re women and that’s how you’re wired. Does that mean we have to sit through conversations we don’t care about? Yes. Does it matter if we don’t do it to you? No.

Berightitis affects the male ego and the female self esteem areas of the body. In men, a woman who has to be right will force the issue to make her point. All men’s egos aren’t affected by compliments however they usually are by insults. Women who have to stress the notion that he is wrong and relentlessly push the issue to prove they’re correct will all but invite their man to leave them. He may not walk out on you immediately but a man will search out a woman for whom he feels he can build with, if you’re chipping away at him…the search will continue. As for women, if their man has to insist upon being right at all costs the result is usually a decrease in how she feels about herself with him. Women typically look to their man as a gauge for their place. She will define her worth in respects to her value to him. Keep putting her down or insisting on being right and her feelings towards you will change. The less valued she feels with you the more opportunities for her to feel valued by someone else.

We have to come to terms and accept the fact that we have different needs. Is it fair that the man is the one who gets up at 3 a.m. to investigate the strange noise downstairs? No, but we do it. The argument of “I checked the last time” won’t hold up as reason to send her into the backyard in the dead of night if something bad happens to her. Just as a woman being home with the children fulfilling the roles of; mother, counselor, nurse, teacher, chef, janitor etc never takes precedence over the man’s needs when he comes home from his 9 to 5. No it’s not fair…it’s life. You can argue your position as valid as it may be, it will just more likely than not keep you from where you ultimately want to be…happy.

Berightitis can prevent the ability to forgive. Some people suffer from such extreme cases that they can never move on and allow the relationship to grow because they’re stuck waiting on their gold star and imaginary accolades. If they don’t feel they’ve been fully acknowledged family ties can un-tether, friendships can be stressed and relationships can end. Why? Is it so important to prove we’re right? Is there really this universal scorecard that tallies up when we die and can get us a better seat in heaven?

So many of us suffer from this affliction, we let it send us into fevers and panic attacks. We need to learn to take a step back and not be so focused on making our point and being correct, and enjoy the lives and relationships we’ve been fortunate enough to be exposed to. Pick your battles.

For those who can’t beat this disease be advised, if you find that you have to always be right…you might get left.

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