You know that you're click-tight with someone when, you are able to openly and honestly express that their spouse isn't your favorite person on the planet and, still, you and your friend can make your relationship work—and last (check out "I'm Not A Fan Of My BFF's Man - This Is How I Make Our Friendship Work"). When it comes to a particular friend of mine, while her husband does have some good qualities, if there's one thing that drives me, his wife, most of her other friends and even their therapist totally up the wall is her man has a severe case of I'm-absolutely-never-ever-wrong-itis. I mean, it's so bad sometimes, you can't have a normal conversation without him feeling the need to Google articles and data to prove the most moot and irrelevant of points. And because he's so adamant on being right all of the time, it has actually caused my friend to consider separating, more than once. That's just how uncomfortable—and sometimes even excruciating—being in a relationship with a bona fide know-it-all can be.
Y'all, I've sat in way too many counseling sessions, and listened to way too many of my other married friends vent about their own partner to know that I'm not the only one who has up-close-and-very-personal encounters with husbands and/or wives who act as if they are never ever wrong. If you can relate because you are that person and/or you are married to one, I'm hoping that this article will offer up some tips that can help you to get, at least, a little bit of relief, so that your marriage can get a little bit more peace.
Accept That the Root of That Is Pride. Or Insecurity.
When you really stop to think about it, it takes a lot of self-confidence and self-awareness to be able to 1) admit when you're wrong, 2) be corrected, and/or 3) hear out an opposing point of view. When someone is able to do these types of things, it means that they are humble, willing to learn and they don't feel threatened by those who may not always or totally agree with them. What this boils down to is, when people can't pull these types of feats off, it's usually an indication that they are the opposite of confident and self-aware. They either function from a space of pure pride or deep-rooted insecurity (which oftentimes are one and the same).
When you really let this reality sink in, it can actually make you feel sorry for someone who acts as if they are never wrong because, at the end of the day, it's not about them being right so much as them fearing being wrong. And Lord, can you just imagine how exhausting it is to function that way? You love your spouse, right? A part of what comes with loving someone is trying to understand where they are coming from. Getting that there is nothing healthy or even beneficial about trying to always be right can bring about a feeling of compassion for them that you probably wouldn't have if you didn't see things from this perspective. Try and look from this scope, if you can.
Avoid Personalizing Their Pride. Or Insecurity.
I work with married couples…a lot.
Something that makes me tip my hat to functional marriages is how they are able to find the balance between becoming one as a union (Genesis 2:24-25) and still maintaining their individuality in the process (Psalm 33:15). A good example of what I mean by that is, it's always dope when a spouse can know when not to own something about their partner that isn't their responsibility and/or when they don't personalize stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with them.
Chances are, if you are married to a know-it-all, it transpired years before you came along. I know some people who are that way because of how they were raised. I know some people who are that way because they are narcissists-in-denial. I know some people who are that way because their job requires that they always be in authority, with little room for error, and so they don't know how to "turn that side of them off" once they step into their own house.
If you're married to someone who believes that they are never wrong, it can only benefit you to do a little pondering about how the "root" created that kind of "tree". Once you can get a better grasp on where all of that stems from, it can help you to better filter how to respond to your partner when they act like they are always right; especially when you know—that you know that you know—that they are not. Plus, it can help you to not feel quite so attacked because you get that when it comes to their pride and/or insecurity, while you're there to help them evolve from it, is not your responsibility to fix. It's totally theirs.
Try to Deactivate Your “Need to Have the Last Word” Trigger
While I'm not a big fan of the ever passive aggressive "OK" that some people like to use whenever they are in a conversation that they feel like they can't win (or they're sick of participating in), I will say that, when you're dealing with someone who feels like they are never wrong, it is important to deactivate a critical trigger—the need to always get the last word in. It reminds me of the quote that is oftentimes credited to Mahatma Gandhi. He once said, "Speak only if it improves upon the silence." While it's important to make your points known, to have your thoughts heard and for your feelings to be conveyed, unfortunately, people who always want to be right tend to care more about talking than listening; they are more into monologues than actual dialogues. This means that, no matter what you say, they are going to try and find something else to say after you. Let them wear themselves out if they want, but after you've "stated your case", use the self-discipline and maturity to be done with the topic. Why? Because, I'm telling you, if there's one thing that people who are never wrong are oftentimes totally stumped by, it's when the person they are trying to prove something to, stops talking—unless they can improve upon the silence.
Present Things in Question Form
Wanna know something that tends to be a signature trait of all know-it-alls? They are defensive AF. There have actually been former clients that I've had to be like, "Yeeeeeah, I'm good. Let's end these sessions" because, no matter what I tried to make them see, they acted like they were in a courtroom rather than a counseling call. Off topic, but not really, if you're a fan of Insecure, that's something that would drive me up the wall about Molly. Because she's a lawyer, she wanted to even argue—or at least take on a defensive tone—with her own therapist. It's exhausting, and ridiculous because, if things were "all good", you wouldn't be sitting on a therapist/counselor/life coach couch in the first place. SMDH.
Rome isn't built in a day. Neither is getting people who think that they are never wrong to a point and place of being able to see that character flaw about themselves. That's why, something that I've learned to do, is present certain things to them in question form more often. Like rather than saying, "You are really disrespectful in the way that you speak to your partner", I'll say something along the lines of, "Do you think how you just said that is disrespectful?" or "What you just said, how would you feel if your partner said it in the same way to you?" By approaching your know-it-all spouse with questions rather than direct statements, that can sometimes help them to lower their guard, be less defensive, and become more open to hearing just where you are coming from.
Get Off of the Eggshells
If you're the spouse who thinks you are never wrong, while this might be hard for you to hear and accept, when it's to the extreme (or you never seem to let up), it's actually a form of bullying. Bullies are aggressive. Bullies don't care to empathize with someone else's feelings, needs or opinions. Bullies try and make the person they are bullying either feel less than or like they must always concede. Yep. A lot of married people are straight-up bullies.
Now, if you're the person who happens to be married to the know-it-all bully, it's also important to keep in mind that you are an adult and they are not your teacher or your parent. While you do love them, there are still certain strategies that you must apply, so that you can remain sane and your marriage can remain stable. First, it's important that even in marriage, you set boundaries. Boundaries are limits. You need to figure out how much of your partner's "never-wrong-ness" you can handle and what you need in order for there to be harmony within the relationship. For instance, when your spouse is wrong, do you need them to apologize? Or, when they want to get on their high horse, do you need them to wait until the two of you get home rather than them choosing to have an all-out debate in public? Maybe what you need is to avoid "never wrong conversations" in the bedroom (so that it doesn't infect your intimacy), or you need to feel like discussions don't have to turn into arguments; that your know-it-all spouse can learn to let things go.
People who are never wrong in their own minds, they automatically function on the side of the extreme because, the reality is that, all of us are wrong at some point or another. And since they are so extreme, if you resolve to constantly walk on eggshells when you're in their presence, not only can that cause you to become super resentful, but it can make them think more and more that they are right—when conclusion is actually dead ass wrong. You deserve to feel at peace in your own house and in your own marriage. Tip-toeing around your know-it-all partner isn't the way to deal with them. Creating and expressing what your boundaries are is. Make sure that you do.
Create a Safe Haven for Them to Be Wrong
This article is actually about to come full circle because, anyone who is so stressed about being right all of the time, that is someone who has to feel vulnerable. A LOT. I say often to my clients that I'm not big on the word "vulnerable" being used in a marital union. Since it means "open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc.", that is the last thing that I think a husband and wife should feel in each other's presence. I'm more in the lane of the word "dependent" because it means "relying on someone or something else for aid, support, etc.". And you know what? In order for your know-it-all spouse to be able to work through their pride and insecurity issues, they need to feel safe in admitting when they are wrong. This is where you can help them with that.
By assuring them, from time to time, that they don't have to perform for you, "win" a debate, or feel more valued only if they are always right, believe it or not, it can actually start to calm them down and become more open to error—and correction.
Emotional safety is critical for the life and longevity of a healthy marriage. Make sure to convey to your partner that them suffocating you with their need to be right is unsafe. At the same time, also let them know that they are in a safe place to be wrong. If the love is real and mutual, in time, the know-it-all can learn how to be more humble and human. They can see that a good marriage doesn't need someone who is never wrong. It requires two people who are willing to do, whatever is needed, to get things right. Which means being wrong sometimes. Hmph. Funny how that works, huh?
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