A common joke from married men is, “Would you rather be right or would you rather be happy?” Another simple one is, “Happy wife, happy life.” Though jokes, they seem to be a somewhat true indicator of an attitude that does exist in relationships, but is this right?
Yesterday, my girlfriend and I were joking about this as we drove to a friend’s house. On the way back, she turned on the GPS and I asked if she didn’t trust my directions. It was a joke, but it also wasn’t. Frustrated, I vented somewhat jokingly and a little self-righteously until she told me that sometimes, I talk too much. Now I was really frustrated and I felt that she’d just dismissed a valid critique. But I let the issue drop because I’d rather be begrudgingly happy than right.
Is this what relationships amount to, or is there a better resolution?
The question, “What is wrong with the world today?” was once asked of a number of famous authors, and Christian preacher G.K. Chesterson famously replied, “Dear sir, I am.”
Too often, we look first for the wrong in others rather than examining our own hearts and motives. I think the problem is pride. We hate being wrong, proved wrong, or even thought to be wrong. We love to feel justified. This became glaringly obvious to me when my girlfriend entered a 50 zone from a 90 kph road and didn’t slow down, and I noticed a thought in the back of my head that said I’d be a little happy if she got ticketed. Immediately, I knew something was wrong in my own heart.
If I am to start this blog anywhere, it’s on this premise: I believe the world and my own life would be a better place if we first examined ourselves before blaming others.
After all, the only person I can change is myself. Jesus once said in Matthew 7:5 that we must first remove the sin in our own lives before we can be wise enough to help others. That is not to excuse the sin, misdeeds, or criminal activity of others, but to recognize the pride in my own life first and repent of it.
I believe that if we are willingly to see our own pride and practice examining our own hearts, then we will learn to do right and then be happy in that.
As long as our happiness is dependent on our perfection or another person’s approval, we will find happiness simply the foolish hope of the single dreamers.
Note: My blog postings will tend to focus on things I am learning. I am grateful to have an amazing, Christian girlfriend who challenges me to grow and be more like Jesus. Anything I write about her is meant simply to highlight and explain what I am learning about myself, and is written with her consent.
2 thoughts on “Rather Be Right or Happy?”
PS–sometimes too much talking on miniscule issues is overrated..
I would not argue with Jesus, Chesterton or you and the basic answer to the question is valid. We can never suppose to change another person should they be wired for non change. Personalities, I believe are pretty much irreversible according to Jung. God works through us to improve us as we accept the other person, or people who are not as easy to accept or even like. Having said that, in relationships, such as the one to which you referred, honest, open discussion is invaluable to diminishing begrudgingly happy. The trivia often can be overlooked–“is it worth it?” Larger issues become more complex if not resolved at the initial onset. We perhaps are unable to change basically, but out of discussion, we learn respect, love and understanding and happiness will eventually super cede the need to be begrudgingly right. (my little note-for what it’s worth!) And—your girlfriend should be reprimanded for speeding!