When my wife and I got married, we agreed about someday becoming foster parents. But we had a hang-up: timing. In our first 15 years of marriage, whenever she raised the idea, I shot her down. It was just too much before our biological kids were grown, I thought. A few years ago she brought it up again. I knew saying no again would be treating her as a lesser partner. So we started fostering and it’s been a gift to do it alongside our teens. I’m glad now that I chose to lose the argument.
If I had won, we would’ve missed out on a blessing. Sometimes winning is losing—you win the argument, but the relationship takes a hit. And sometimes losing is winning, when you choose to lose the argument, not the person. While there are certainly times you can’t back down, they are fewer than you think. Here are 3 times we should choose to lose the argument.
1. When You’re Just Protecting Your Ego
Let’s face it: Sometimes, we argue just because we don’t want to be wrong. We may or may not feel strongly about the subject, but we feel strongly about winning. Of course, rarely does this accomplish anything productive. Instead, if you win the battle, you’ve likely damaged your spouse’s trust in you. Don’t kid yourself. She knows this is about your ego. Arrogance is hard to hide. When you only argue to protect your ego, you show your wife that your pride is more important to you than her voice.
2. When the Results Are Inconsequential
Some disagreements require that you stand your ground, but many are relatively inconsequential (the color you paint your living room, the movie you watch, whether you go to the beach or the mountains). I’m not saying you should never get your way, but you also need to weigh the upside of winning versus valuing your wife and her opinions. If you have to win every battle, you’ll end up battling more. You’ll treat her like she’s standing in the way of your happiness rather than as someone you want to build happiness with.
3. When There Is No Clear Right AnswerMarriage is inherently about negotiation. You each sacrifice to build a life together.
Sometimes, the right answer is really unclear, such as in my argument about when to become foster parents. You might feel strongly about your opinion, but so does she. When this happens, sometimes you need to choose to lose. Marriage isn’t about having all your dreams come true. It’s about building a life with another person who has hopes and dreams that are different than yours (even though they are presumably compatible). Marriage is inherently about negotiation. You each sacrifice to build a life together. We intentionally lose something in order to gain something we deem more important. We choose to lose the argument, not the person.
Sound off: What’s an example of an argument you’ve chosen to lose for the sake of building up your relationship?
Huddle up with your wife and ask, “What can I do differently when we argue?””