How to argue with Mr. Always Right

by Alisa on July 7, 2011

A Reader Participation Post

Here’s a “biggest marital problem” sent to me by a reader:

My husband is aggressive, rude, and is always right and I am always wrong. Therefore I no longer have serious conversations with him. I try to avoid talking about anything that he might find upsetting, even though it may be something that is upsetting to me. We basically don’t have a relationship. I desperately would like to have a relationship, but I honestly don’t know if my husband is capable of it. I just agree with what he says. If I don’t he gets very angry and says that I just want to argue. If I ask him questions he gets angry too, so I will just ask him one question if I want to know something. If I don’t like or don’t understand his answer, I won’t say anything because that makes him very angry. What should I do?

Readers: This is all you. Can you help this reader with her biggest marital problem? I’m giving you two weeks to wrestle with this one. I will be awarding prizes to 5 people who I judge (by purely non-objective standards) to have the most helpful and insightful advice. The prizes include a free signed copy of my book Project: Happily Ever After + several other books that publishers have sent me recently: Jenn Berman’s Rockin Babies (I have two copies), Byron Pitts’ Step Out of Nothing, and Hulk Hogan’s My Life Outside the Ring.

Note: For the next two weeks, I will be taking a social media vacation. It do this once or twice a year whenever I start to feel stale, burned out, and irritated with humanity. Now is that time of year. I hope to return in two weeks as the generous, kind, loving, somewhat positive person I once knew. Because I won’t be posting much this month, the more comments you leave on this and other older posts, the higher your chances of winning the next Reader of the Month. For July Rental Car Choices will be giving away a free pass to Universal Studios. Make sure you click through to the actual blog ProjectHappilyEverAfter.com to comment. Comments sent to me via email or left on Facebook don’t count for this promotion.

A professional journalist, Alisa Bowman is the author of Project: Happily Ever After, a memoir of how she saved her marriage, and coauthor of Pitch Perfect, a must-read if you've ever had a sense of dread tie up your insides before a speech, presentation, or conversation. If you enjoyed this post, you will no doubt love her updates on Facebook and Twitter.

{ 98 comments… read them below or add one }

Judy White April 29, 2013 at 11:13 am

No one has the exact answer for dealing with Mr. Right, because they are unique from each other. I do feel that if your feelings about decisions to be made that will affect both of you are ignored, then this can create resentment and contempt. In turn, these feelings can escalate and bring division in various ways. He can lose friends from always feeling the need to be right. The more friends you lose, the more isolated you become, then he may not want to venture out with you (spouse) as much. You’re desires become less important, so you pull away, start to do activities that are separate, lose desire for intimacy, don’t go to events that are important to either of you. Life becomes about eating, sleeping, and existing. If he won’t get help, then you can stay and lead a life that only he wants or pursue the you that you forsook for him. Only you know which alternative will work for you. When it gets to where you constantly dwell on the negative of being with Mr. Right, maybe it’s time to put him to the test. If he really loves you, he will come looking for you and be also willing to meet somewhere in the middle. Hope this helps. I’m actually talking to myself as well as you. I do give things a lot of thought before doing them. Patience is a virtue.

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marg April 30, 2013 at 9:42 am

I just read a vastly amusing blog about how to win an argument. The whole thing about the advice was wrong. The most annoying thing about trying to discuss things with my partner*very long term relationship * is the fact that he is calm, complacent and totally unwilling to make any changes. I try to remain calm but in the end I get angrier and angrier and he gets calmer and calmer and refutes every damn thing I say he also gets critical and really hurtful. He says all these horrible things and blames me for my attitude OK I know its not that good at times but mostly I am a fairly calm person.He tells me I am not normal and there is something wrong with me. In the meantime as the argument really gets insulting I start shouting and throwing stuff around the room. I feel absolute hatred at that moment and know I am making a fool of myself (again!) It starts off Ok and I feel pretty sure of myself then it just sort of escalates.This happens every single time I try to discuss things rationally. Ok I know why do I bother? Well I am always hopeful I can get through to him (poor fool that I am) Actually apart from the financial aspect if I leave it would be a real pleasure to not have this calm complacency and total incomprehension of how awful I feel at times about the whole set up. I just want to live in peace but I am most unhappy. Perhaps I will feel a lot better when I stop bashing my head up against this brick wall?

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Rhonda July 13, 2013 at 10:26 am

Marg, I’m right there with you on this one. I have actually made it to the next step of just shutting up and keeping my opinion to myself. I found the screaming and getting upset doesn’t help. Guess what? The shutting up and keeping my opinion to myself doesn’t help either. I’m silently resenting him more and more. We can go days without speaking at all and he’s just fine with that. I tell myself “at least we’re not fighting” but the silence isn’t much better. If I could financially make it without his paycheck, he’d be gone. Trust me, I’ve been silently trying to figure out how to do that as well. I will figure that out & I’ll be out of this. I’ve been with him for 27 years and we’ve been married 6 of those. Seems as soon as I said “I do” he decided he didn’t anymore. He wasn’t Mr. know it all before we got married, but he sure is now. I’m sorry I don’t have any real advice as to what to do. I just wanted you to know you’re not the only one in that boat. In my case, I’ve decided it’s over and I just have to figure out how to make ends meet by myself, but as soon as I do. I’ll stop playing the silent game and get on with my life without him.

Maggi May 4, 2013 at 2:31 pm

My husband and I are BOTH stubborn by nature. He was a collegiate
athlete, as well as a coach for many years….. His players used to say
in unison “It’s the _____way, or the highway”. And, it was, and still is TRUE!!

He doesn’t see himself this way, but he is…. There are things I could care less
about that he chooses to organize, or put certain places, etc. However,
when it comes to something I have an opinion about, hold on to your hats!
He must always “think” he’s either getting his way, or that he’s convinced
me somehow that “HIS” way is the only way things are going to work! Even if
I’m the one who went to school to do the job, or I’m the one with experience in
the particular area he’s trying to dominate!!

Sometimes I just want to scream at the top of my lungs with frustration, but
it won’t do any good. The most recent arguments pertain to remodeling
the house, and which walls to move, and which to keep… And, etc., etc. ….

Long story short….. the total experience of purchasing this home,
obtaining a contractor, getting everything set up has been a nightmare!
Why you ask? It all boils down to a man who refuses to listen to a woman,
because God knows, he must know more, just because he’s a man!

His stubbornness, and unwillingness to just “listen” to what I have to say, that
might have saved some time as well as money, has now cost us six months of delays,
set backs, and the possibility that this venture I too have invested so
much money in will turn out to be one huge nightmarish flop!

We’re talking about a well educated man, who refuses to take the
necessary steps to protect his interests, because his wife “might”
be right, and if so, he might have to admit it to himself!

I’m a cover all your bases, research before you make your move,
find everything out BEFORE you do something kind of person, while
he chooses to either fly by the seat of his pants, or find stuff out after the fact,
and then deal with it, or pay out all your hard earned money to fix
what you should have know all along! So far in 29 years, it seems
he’d rather lose $ than listen to my advice, (which I have to admit, has been
right on about 98%) of the time! And I’m not just trying to toot my own horn….
But like I said, I like to know WHAT I’m doing or up against
BEFORE I start a project. Any project!

Not much help I know in the way of helping anyone else out,
but I guess my only advice to anyone would be to LISTEN to your gut,
ALWAYS! Prepare yourself with knowledge. Read anything and everything
you can about people, their personalities, and read books that will
help teach you how to communicate with different personalities.
Learn what makes your partner tick…. Try to find a way to help them
feel like things were their idea.

Stay quiet and observe. And what I’ve learned…… Sometimes you just
have to bite your tongue, let them fail, and maybe, just maybe your
partner will LEARN to LISTEN to what you have to say, because you may
on the slightest chance just BE right!!!!! If your partner fails enough times,
and loses enough money…….

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Sandra August 5, 2013 at 7:22 pm

Dont’ kid yourselves…..When they are right, they are right. I am married twice, both men, know it alls. Not only for themselves, but for me also. I waited 13 years before I married again. Like a lot of other women, I made the same mistake twice. More fool I. He was great during our courting days and then, it began. My family was low class (except for me), the sex stopped, but that too was my fault, I gained 5 pounds, therefore unattractive. From my prespective, he started drinking way too much and couldn’t engage, so rather than taking responsibility, he decided it was easier to blame me. It worked….My self esteem went down the tubes and I actually started believing that everything was my fault. It’s a good thing that I come from a very strong stock of women. I’ve lived with this same crap for 30 years and it never gets better. The only thing is that I don’t buy into it anymore. He nearly died this last April because of the booze. He was grateful that I didn’t leave him on his own when he was taken to emergency and so happy when I visited for two weeks while he was hospitalized. He’s home now, sober, but still the most critical son of bitch I’ve ever known. Nothing has changed, his opinions haven’t changed, they have just shifted, sobriety will do that….he thinks I get my own way all of the time, what a joke. When I was young, I could never understand how a woman or man could leave each other after so many years. I do now. I have one foot out the door because I don’t want to live another day where I feel like I owe him something. I treated his family, like I did my own because I wanted to. There’s an old saying ” A leopard doesn’t change his spots”, so true, so true. My husband has and does walk around with a cloud over his head and I guess that’s his thing.. BUT…. When after all of these years you are still watching what you are saying or feeling like you are infringing on your husbands/partners time, then it’s time to check out. In my case, I guess I can say that it was never meant to be and quite honestly, I am okay with that. I look forward to my twilight years in peace. Sometimes it takes time before we realize that we are responsible for good changes. I have no regrets, but I sure as hell have learned a lot over these past 30 years. The biggest lesson….never, ever lose yourself and if you find yourself sinking fast…go for help. I really mean it. Go for help. We are on this earth for a reason and I can assure you that it’s not to be used or abused. Peace Out….

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Patti Anderson August 6, 2013 at 8:03 am

I am dealing with a man that expects me to go out of the way for him but when it is his turn there is always an excuse. He procrastinates with everything even getting out of bed in the morning. He is always right even though he knows he is wrong. He critisizes others for things and then turns around and does it himself. He watches everything I do and then tells me a better way to do it. I am losing that loving feeling. Even when he makes a mistake and really needs to apologize, he will argue and fight and turn the tables before he admits he is wrong. Sad thing is that he needs me financially and I feel if I leave the guilt of leaving him high and dry will consume me. I am unhappy and pray every night that this man wakes up and smells the coffee. One foot out the door and growing resentment daily.

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Eight Years Out January 7, 2014 at 6:45 pm

You are an angel. If I was financially able, I would have probably been gone. That is probably why God has not be successfully employed for awhile.

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Shellie Roy February 23, 2014 at 3:27 am

I feel exactly the same. My man has all the money/power. He feels since he pays the bills he doesn’t have to live by the same standards he holds me to. I am so opinionated and outspoken and educated. He is not educated. . However, my input is worthless to him. I’m so tired of a man who is so insecure making me feel cometely useless and unlovable. I really think God is allowing it to get so uncomfortable that I’ll finally leave. Even if it’s to live in a shelter. I do love me still.

B. Warren February 22, 2014 at 9:47 pm

Reading Patti’s statement sounds just like where I am. If I say blue, he says red; if I say up, he says down; if I say right, he says left. I am so tired of arguing and being wrong. I hate it. Whatever happened to people being nice to each other. I have gotten to the point where I don’t even want to say anything because if I do, no matter what it is, it will be wrong. I have prayed that it will get better and that if I change, things will get better but they don’t. He is always right and I need to realize that if I am going to stay in this relationship I will have to deal with being wrong.

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Shellie Roy February 23, 2014 at 1:22 am

OMG. U hacked my life/brain/relationship. I swear these exact, identical,depressing words came out of my mouth today. Freaky. I’m so over it. I really am having a hard time not hating him as a Christian. I have got to go. Or I will die. I’ll die to a point that I’m even more dead than I am. And that isn’t possible. Ugh.

greenbean September 16, 2013 at 12:36 pm

I was with someone like this for more than a decade and I thought it was my job to keep the peace and compromise. It eventually messed with my own self esteem being such a ‘bendy’ person and where this man would insist he was right, debate the hell out of it for weeks until I was just emotionally exhausted and would give in… even where there was tangible evidence that he was wrong and I was right. Anyway, I eventually left him and he begged me to come back but all I could see was more years ahead of this type of “abuse” and I do think it’s abuse. I think someone who has to be right all the time, a husband or boyfriend has a need to control due to low self confidence but they won’t give up the fight, they’d rather be right and mess up their relationships than ever admit they are wrong or ever seek help for their self confidence. I saw myself as a crutch to him or someone who he could always “in a sense” beat up with his need to always be right to make himself feel better about himself, and he never cared if it destroyed me or our relationship because his low self esteem was more important to him. So I realized he’d never change or at least that I wasn’t interested in wasting one more minute of my life being this person to him. Luckily I did have the financial resources to leave. Sadly, I date a lot and have to tell you that probably 80 to 90 percent of the men I go out with exhibit this sort of behaviour, I recognize the signs pretty early on as subtle as they may be. I’ve decided not to bother dating anymore lol not interested in having my self esteem degraded by someone like that or be someone’s crutch or play games and pretend it doesn’t matter.

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Befuddled September 16, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Narcissistic personality disorder. Look this up. Melanie Tonia Evans’ website will explain it all.

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Shellie Roy February 23, 2014 at 3:31 am

Rock on befuddled. I want to be like you someday soon. Aren’t you happier now?

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Stork October 3, 2013 at 8:01 pm

I am so sorry for you. I am in exactly the same state. For my part, I have given up hoping I can ever expect a compromise, so, as you do, I am either silent or I agree with him just to get over the blowup.
All I can see is to try and glean as much satisfaction out of life as I can from other individuals and other activities. That is where I am now. I have put myself on a one year schedule. If, at the end of one year, my personal life changes do not seem adequate, I will reassess from there. My husband is old and I really don’t believe that any compromise on his part is reasonable. He has recently completely rejected one of our children due to actions on our child’s part that we do not approve of. When his total rejection and disinheritence of our child happended I lhave lost all interest in trying to “to the extra mile” and compromise on my part. I don’t like my child’s choice either, but I know I have communicated that and we can still have a relationship despite our differences. Not for my spouse. It is his way or no way. He grills me every day about my child and whether the child will change or not. It is to the point I would like to scream. He is so full of pride and so empty of love he will not call the child. He just piles the responsibility and the guilt (about something I have no control over) onto me. And then he just ratchets up the continuous nagging, nagging, nagging.
Please take care of yourself and do not let yourself slip into complete depression which is where I am. Do not, under any circumstances let yourself fall that far as you may reach a point where you are not able to pull yourself out….
Take care. My heart truly bleeds for you. The most horrible thing I know of is to be saddled in a loveless marrieage from which you cannot escape.

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bob November 21, 2013 at 8:15 am

Anyone have wives who always want to argue and insist that she is correct? Women can be more knowitall.in situations and you can never tell them they are wrong. As a guy i tell her once or twice and i love watching her fail thats when she finally listens. God help men out there with stubborn wives!

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Anonymous November 21, 2013 at 7:30 pm

hello, I’m new to this. But as I started reading this issues, it actually applies to me (well..sometimes). I too have been married for 4 yrs with 2 children of our own. When I had our youngest things went sour. He decided to play games and met someone else. His excuse were working late or doing homework while I was at home taking of our own and being a “mommy” and wife. I never used to think he was doing anything until that night I felt it was getting too much of late nights. Soon enough, I checked his personal email that I never check…and there a picture of him sent to someone who I new.
I was really stupid and thought it wasn’t. He lied so many times and tried so hard so he can just see her. I must admit…it was crushing, i felt i was nothing i felt devastated. He was my everything. Now..2 years later we decided to work things out and be a family again. But I feel like sometimes he punishes me and tries to find clues as if I was doing something to get back at him. Even though my ass works all the G** time and go home ..I have no life but just my family..how is this fair?
Im so fed up and I dont know what to do.

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Just a penny advice January 7, 2014 at 1:06 am

Then i end up in the big messed.I was once in all your shoes, but after all the learning and researching. I was changed and my marriage changed, my home changed for the better. It was after 13 yrs of marriage. It was not easy but the results and the consistency of actions i put on it paid off.
I am a type of person who is quiet, so to received verbal abused, feeling not loved i got, i did rebell, left my spouse, and end up with more problems and after just being quiet, or being stubborn i said i decided my own choice, not knowing what to do. I end up getting hurt more. after 8 years He cheated and left me also. It hurts, but those wrong advice i did only resulted to more hurts for my family and kids. So i almost kill myself, but because of my children and some fear of God, that the only way for me when i was in my deepest, lowest, downfall situation, after i’ve done all what i know and listen to all the people and the blog is for me to look up, to the one who created the marriage. I keep asking why? Many times…..He, God, would know. Yes, He created the marriage, Does he knows or does he have a solution for this kind of marriage? Everyday, I prayed and prayed that the only one I got is God, total dependent on Him, and then I do my part, that after what I learned and heard it all depends upon my actions. God showed me a way, One day, I stumbled in one of the Radio Station. 105.1 FM. “Focus on the family”. Family thrive. They have lots of testimonies and advice that i heard that is really helped me. These are broken families that God fixes, worst than anyone i have heard of. They councel and help too. God showed me in the book of proverbs. Then I heard about the teaching of “Andrew Wommack”for our relationship with God. They are all free of charge so I took advantage of that.
The bible says “Only by pride, comes contentions, but with the well advised is wisdom”. It is not by pride, but only by pride. We as human are always tendency to do everything “our way” If you are not willing to try to do what God wants you to do, it will never work for you. I keep searching and listening to the word of God everyday. I built my self, my confidence and my trust to the only one who created the humanit and marriage, which is God. If you think that your ways does not work..Try God and dont give up. I did, and now i am the glad I tried, He fixes me and my spouse. He does not go to church, but now he does also, little by little. Even though He cheated, and tells me all kinds of hurtful words, treat me like i am the stupid of all, but because I know in my self that God bought me for a price, i dont buy on those( i started listening to the word of God so this never intimidate me without my consent), instead i feel pity on those people who are like him, because, they cant find where to put themselves, they are actually feeling low self esteem and mirroring themselves to you by telling it to you what they are, they are empty and keep blaming others. I learned, by God’s grace how to deal with it, and God helped me how to love my spouse unconditionally like God loves us and i received what exactly i needed. Respect and love and care.
My problem will not be the same as yours, or worst. But i know that God knows and have resolution for all our problems. The only way to obtain is our full cooperation and submission to obtain God’s amazing power in our marriage, or relationships. God’s way is higher or far from our human ways. I pray that you all seek the one who created the marriage and He will added everything of what you need in your life. If God fixes my marriage and both of us in the marriage. He is willing to do yours also. God is not a respecter of person.
Be blessed!

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Eight Years Out January 7, 2014 at 6:42 pm

I have been married for eight years. My husband is 12 years older than I am. When we were dating, my husband never, ever raised his voice to me. Unfortunately we only dated for seven months before we were married and lived 12 hours apart. He does not handle stress well and raises his voice and takes it out on me. I have let him know that this is very hurtful. He is very generous, which is one of the things that I loved about him. However, that turns out to be a big issue in our marriage. He did admit to me that he had $30,000 in unsecured credit card debt while we were married, but we agreed that I would control the finances once we were married because I came into the marriage debt free. That never happened. My husband always picks up the check and grossly over tips. That is fine if you do not have staggering debts piled up. I have never met a single Christian person who did not want to eliminate their debts. His view is that he wants to be remembered as someone who helped people, not someone who died debt free. He feels that he is sticking it to the credit card people who screwed him over at one time or other. He makes over 6 figures, but we live way outside of our means. He knows absolutely everything and it is hard to enjoy conversations with someone who feels everything is up for debate. This is his third marriage and I am starting to see why.

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Time waits for no man, neither do I February 8, 2014 at 1:10 pm

I have an exact answer. Shut it down. He can’t win the game if you don’t play.

Ask him if he thinks he’s right. Then ask him if he’s certain his perspective is the only one that might be right or are there others he could consider. Don’t bother offering your opinion if it’s going to fall on deaf ears. Your opinion is valued and first and foremost you must value it enough not to entertain time wasters.

I too married Mr. Know it all but everyone is responsible for their own happiness and learning. You are their wife, not their mom, not their teacher, not their counsellor. As unhelpful as that might sound he’s a big boy – it’s ok to say you don’t have the answers to everything and encourage them to keep looking for the answer. And when they sulk just let them know if you come across the answer or another perspective you’ll be sure to tell them of it.

I love my husband but my care factor when it comes to irrelevant, trivial, rubbish is pretty much on the ground. He has to really work hard to justify why I should even care about an issue before I’ll consider debating it if it’s trivial and as sad as that sounds…. I really don’t care. It saves me a lot of time and I need that time to do what I want with my life.

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