There is a "couples" story that makes the rounds periodically; it's in reference to one of my many flaws that my husband always found infuriating — I never admitted when I was wrong. Now I grant you, there is truth in this. I had a very skewed upbringing that left me with an intense compulsion to do everything perfectly and if it wasn't perfect, if I'd made a mistake of any kind, well then that was tough to live with.
Still, one time when our neighbors Alice & Dick were over, something happened and I was wrong. My husband was incensed and looked to Dick to enforce his indignation, "You see she won't ever admit when she's wrong!"
"Well, when she's right so much of the time, can you blame her?" Dick replied taking the wind out of my husband inflated cheeks.
Dick's response lived and grew larger within him. For years and years, whenever he had the opportunity to bring it up, bring it up he did. He couldn't believe that a male compatriot hadn't seen it his way.
I did have a hard time admitting when I was wrong. I still have a hard time admitting I'm wrong but...I've gotten much better. Over the years there were so many times when in the heat of some discussion or argument, I'd reply to my husband or children, "I don't want to be right! I just want you to see what I'm worried about!" But they didn't believe me.
It took me a very long time to admit when I was wrong. But even when I did, I don't know that it ever wiped out their experience of all those other times when I didn't. They thought I always wanted to be right. They still think that.
Now, with distance between us, as my husband and I communicate more honestly about our relationship — our past mistakes, the places we each chose a certain way that was probably detrimental to the long-term health of our partnership — this separation becomes more real. Just the other day he reluctantly shared an observation, "I think you were right." This in reference to my decision to leave our marriage of 29 years.
This was one time — my first time — that being right was incredibly painful and sad.