With my wife recently having surgery I had the opportunity to drive my kids to school each day; an opportunity she usually has. It was nice to have a few extra minutes with them and to share in the excitement of a new day.
It wasn’t long before I realized why I like it when my wife takes the kids instead: I can’t believe how bad some of our morning drivers are! I am by no means the perfect driver, but I certainly do my best to know the rules, and follow them, for the safety of all involved.
One of the most frustrating encounters to me is the uncontrolled four way intersection. With no yield signs or stop signs to give obvious instruction, some people seem completely confused on what to do, and everyone seems to handle the same intersection differently.
To aid in safe and efficient travel, a rule on how to handle such intersections must exist. For the safety of all of us, it would be wise for us to know what this rule is. To be sure I was handling such encounters correctly myself, I double checked the rules and was reminded that the car to the right has the right of way.
While knowing this certainly helped me know who had the right of way, it didn’t seem to matter to some drivers, who went even when I had the right of way. More than once I’ve read about a driver who was cited in an accident for not yielding the right of way. Clearly me knowing the rule isn’t enough to keep us all safe.
I suppose I could just take my right-of-way and proceed even if the other driver doesn’t stop. While I still may be right in my actions, damage to my car, and perhaps even my body, likely would happen. Even if the other person is in the wrong, I clearly pay a price, too.
When couples disagree, the basis of this argument is a difference of opinion, and sometimes, even fact. And while there certainly may be times when you know you are right, how you proceed from there is going to make all the difference.
A wise driver, and a wise spouse, yields to win, no matter who is right. Rather than bullying their way into the intersection or forcefully defending their position with no mercy towards their spouse, in both instances yielding to win is the safer choice.
Yielding to win is not about admitting your wrong, it’s about taking the one down for the safety of all involved. It’s not about admitting defeat or being a wimp, it’s about being the bigger person even though you may be right.
When we yield to win, we give the other person the benefit of the doubt, even when they don’t deserve it. Yielding to win is about showing mercy, especially when we don’t have to. It’s about agreeing to disagree rather than fighting to the death.
Let’s say Andrea forgets to deposit a check and the account goes under and the couple is charged an overdraft fee. When her husband Alex finds out, how he responds will make all the difference.
By the facts, he may be right in accusing her of causing the overdraft fee. By the facts, perhaps he could be a little upset. By the facts, it seems she is guilty.
But yielding to win is not about the facts, it’s about showing mercy in realizing that we all make mistakes. On this day, it may have been Andrea’s mistake. But it wasn’t too far in the past, and it won’t be too far into the future, when Alex makes a mistake, too.
Not being a perfect driver myself I try to extend mercy to others when they make a mistake. Not being the perfect spouse, I try to extend a hand of mercy to my spouse when she makes a mistake, too. In both instances, I know I need to mercy of others when I inevitably drop the ball, too.
In the pursuit of keeping love alive, when we yield to win, we win because we keep our relationship strong. In the words of Ruth Graham, “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.”
So as you stumble through this week as a spouse doing the best you can, remember your spouse is doing the best they can, too. A perfect marriage is not made up of two perfect people, but two of two perfect forgivers, both doing the best they can.
And while you could, of course, bully your way into winning the argument because you’re right, may I close with the infamous words of Dr. Phil: “Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?”
Have a great week yielding to win at home, and on the road, even when you’re right, and you’ll be much more likely to arrive safely at your destination.
Remember, successful relationships are easier than you think but harder than you act.
Mark Anderson, MS, LMHP is a mental health therapist specializing in couples therapy. He is in private practice in Scottsbluff at Oregon Trail Mental Health and can be reached at (308) 635-2800 or online at www.panhandlecouples.com