Relationships Are Much Too Complex for "Right and Wrong"
Playing the "right and wrong" game in our relationships is a game with no winner.
I challenge my clients to consider a world where right and wrong don’t really exist -- especially when it comes to relationships. Often being right in a relationship creates a false sense of power, of winning, where unfortunately you find yourself celebrating alone. That kind of glory really isn’t that much fun, since being in a relationship usually requires the participation of a second party.
Right and wrong from my vantage point is really about the belief systems all of us have about the way the world is and the way we and others “should” behave. The basis for a fight is founded on the premise that both parties believe they’re right and that the battle that ensues will determine the winner. In my experience the person who comes out on top didn’t really win very much when the goal is to find happiness in a relationship, not righteousness.
When we talk about the notion of right and wrong in relationships, what we’re dealing with are values, morals and, ultimately, beliefs predicated on perception. And as I often say perception doesn’t always take into consideration the truth. It may be your truth -- it’s just not truth for the person you’re in disagreement with. In relationships men tend to run a belief that they have to “pick and choose your battles.” Through the logical mind one decides: Does this situation warrant me pounding my chest, or do I let this one pass ? Making the decision to let it pass isn’t really the answer either because then you’re just silently gloating, believing you’re right, while the other person gets to act out his or her false sense of righteousness.
Meeting each other at a place where happiness dwells
A very old and famous quote from the 13th-century poet Rumi states, “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I'll meet you there.” I can’t say enough about this quote as a way to emphasize the importance of two people meeting each other at that place where happiness becomes far more important than being right. It’s in this place where we can agree to disagree and learn more about ourselves and each other and the way in which we view the world. Most importantly, it’s this place where two people can grow beyond their own limiting beliefs and decide together what’s right for them as a couple and as a team. When two people arrive at this place, they’re much more likely to respect other’s beliefs without judgment. This is the place where happiness, true happiness, is found in relationships. Being right comes with lots of pressure, so the notion that what’s right for us doesn’t have to be right for someone else relieves us of that responsibility so we can focus on more important things.
Some of you may challenge me on this, and that’s OK. And, yes, I would agree that there are situations where right and wrong does play a part. Physical safety is one of those arenas. The protection of a child is another area within relationships where clearly making proper choices could be viewed as right or wrong. Yet, it’s important to note that the right-and-wrong issue has its roots in fear. Fear has been known to stand for: False Evidence Appearing Real. I like to classify fear into two categories: One is the fear that protects you, the other the fear that prevents you. The fear that protects you is knowing that your spouse or partner can be physically violent and knowing not to make the choice to be a victim. The fear that prevents you is the fear that says if I allow my partner to be right, then what would that say about me? That type of fear prevents you from stepping into your greatness in the relationship. It prevents you from being intimate, empathetic and caring, many of the qualities we look for in others in a relationship.
Let’s all be more conscious of focusing on making sound choices for ourselves and within our relationships. Let’s be aware that right and wrong is a decision two people can reach together, be it to agree to disagree or to reach a new plateau of learning and understanding, and, most importantly, a place where they can see themselves, each other and those outside of their relationship, without the need or cause for judgment.
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