Monday / August 01 / 2011
The 7 magic words everyone wants to hear
I once had a male friend, who had recently been raked over the coals by his wife, say to me, “Seriously… what do they do? Pull girls aside in kindergarten and teach you that nagging is sexy and women are always right?”
I can assure you Mrs. Heckleman did not pull me aside to share any such nonsense. Perhaps she was too tied up with opening milk cartons and wiping runny noses. Perhaps she was wise. I’m going with the latter.
After nearly 18 years of marriage, Skip-n-I both strongly believe there’s no such thing as “winning” an argument (for all the reasons noted here). However sometimes, one of you indeed is “right”. Important note: this does NOT apply to feelings, opinions, and emotions. It applies to arguments surrounding facts; arguments for which there is typically a resource to clearly define an answer. For instance, if the argument is about how to pronounce the word, “lackadaisical”, your son can be dead-on right about its pronunciation — and he can prove it.
After much impassioned debate – and a wager (which of course the boys came up with), I suggested said case could be proven if someone would simply look up the word in the dictionary. When Grant proved his case with the correct pronunciation, Skip had to eat his own boxer shorts (which I believe he renegotiated for cash of some sort). Lesson learned? Aside from never being “so sure you’re right” that you promise to eat your own boxer shorts — the word, “lackadaisical” is not pronounced “lax”-a-day-sical.
Properly following the ground rules of no eye rolling or heavy sighs, Skip looked at Grant and uttered the 7 Magic Words everyone wants to hear: “You were right and I was wrong.” (Now, for those of you who just counted the words to make sure there were indeed seven, this post is especially for you!)
Saying the 7 Magic Words to your child is hard enough. Saying them to your partner can be equally as challenging. But like anything else, it gets easier (and more enjoyable) when you practice. Plus let’s face it, if you know your partner is right, giving him the satisfaction of recognizing it will go a long way.
Skip once joked with me that the secret to a happy marriage was starting each day with an apology. Something along the lines of, “I’m not sure yet what I’m going to do, but you and I both realize I’m going to screw something up today. So let me begin the new day by saying, I’m sorry.” After deciding those words were understood (from both of us), we voted instead to implement the 7 Magic Words everyone wants to wants to hear.
So now, when it’s obvious Skip is right about something, he gives me that knowing smile to which I respond, “You were right and I was wrong!” (and vice versa). Funny the things that can bring sheer joy into a relationship.
Indeed, if your case is based solely on facts, one of you will be right. (eh, ehm… listen up, stubborn arguers who have a hard time admitting someone else is right!) When such a case is proven, ya gotta suck it up and utter the 7 Magic Words. My promise to you is this: when you do, you’ll most likely be greeted with a smile and if you’re lucky, a hug – and perhaps even a special trip to somewhere like Zack’s Drive-In for Texas hots (Skip’s fave place to get hot dogs in upstate New York).
Best of all, you learn to open the door of communication, coupled with a sense of humor. And that, my friends, will pay dividends in your relationship.