I don’t know where it originated, but it was from a pastor that I first heard the spectacular piece of marriage wisdom that I have passed on to so many others. Ready for it?

You can be right, or you can be married.

Sometimes you can be both, but not always. If you are married, there absolutely will come a time when you know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you are right about something, but you will have to decide whether to compromise and meet your spouse halfway or sleep somewhere else that night.

One of the more heartbreaking tendencies I’ve observed among people living in our modern, western culture – which is defined by its binary, black-and-white, wright-or-wrong, in-or-out thinking patterns – is that people choose to be right at the cost of relationships every day.

  • The parent who won’t attend the wedding of their child to someone who doesn’t meet their full approval, which delivers such a hurtful blow that it severs the relationship for years, if not forever.
  • The spouse who defends their right to continue in a destructive drinking habit all the way to separation and divorce.
  • The church leader who insists so strongly that their viewpoint on a secondary theological or ecclesiastical issue is the correct one that eventually someone gets fired or a bunch of people walk out, never to return.

Granted, there are issues over which division becomes sadly necessary, but then there are the issues about which we should learn the five life-changing words: “But I could be wrong.” In which case, the proper way to continue the conversation might involve something like this:

I don’t understand or agree with your perspective. I’m having a hard time seeing this another way. I believe I’m right about this, but… but I could be wrong. And therefore I choose YOU over the issue. I want to stay in your life and I want you to stay in my life more than I want to get credit for being right about this topic.

You can be the most correct person and the most lonely person on the planet. Or you can value relationships more than being right. Your call, but walk humbly as you choose.