I have No written all over my face, and I’m glaring at my husband with it.
“I’m right!” I insist, yet again.
“No, you’re not!” he counters.
“You know I’m right!” I fling back at him.
“You’re doing your British Resistance thing,” he replies knowingly.
Damn, that argument always scores points.
And so our ridiculous performance begins as we circle one another like hostiles on the battlefield. Lots of aggressive stances taken, but all bark and no bite.
Am I relaxed at this moment? Absolutely not.
My feet are planted firmly and stubbornly on the ground as if roots are extending downwards, and my legs are rigid with locked knees. Nothing is going to move me from my position.
My stomach feels tight with tension and apprehension. A barely noticeable taste of acid reaches up into my throat. I notice my voice is straining to maintain a tone of authority.
My jaw is rigidly set and my teeth clenched. I continue to try and stare down my husband. If only my eyes were laser beams that could penetrate his thick skull so he would see things my way!
In imagining that we are part of a Tom and Jerry type cartoon; I envisage my caricature squirting a high-pressure water hose onto my animated husband. At the same time, he hurls grenades of exploding soap powder at me. It ends up in a mammoth mound of bubbles enveloping us both completely. Every time we speak, a mixture of gas-in-liquid globules emerge from our mouths, incoherent and frothy. We stare at each other, eyebrows arched in exaggeration, big question marks floating above our heads. The frenetic pace of the music suddenly stops. There is a pregnant pause in the action. Then we both burst out laughing at the same time.
After 35 years of marriage, Manny and I have become more adept at defusing attempted and unwelcome take-overs. It has taken us many years of practice. We both like to be in control, yet have learned by experience that it doesn’t necessarily make us happy.
Sally Brampton, from Psychologies Magazine, talks about letting go of righteous indignation. “Meet anger with civility, and suddenly, the war is over. It’s not capitulation, compromise, or even an emotional decision. It’s an intelligent choice, and the reward is peace of mind.”
When I release myself from the grip of being right, I can feel my body palpably relax. It is such a relief. I am still well-grounded in my feet, but my legs are now soft and movable.
Flexibility has returned. I have released my investment in the results I was craving earlier. My stomach is gurgling happily at a restored, healthy digestive function. My voice is deeper and softer without the metallic edge of need grating my vocal cords.
I open my mouth slightly so the jaw can release its hold and slip into its natural position. My body clearly loves being happy and relaxed.
When we are happy it doesn’t really matter who’s right or wrong. Being right isn’t as important a consideration when you’re feeling secure and focused.
A book on my shelf at home called The Course of Miracles suggests that “Choosing happiness is always the path of least resistance. When you confirm your commitment to happiness you weaken your faith in resentment.”
In a song by the same title as this article, Michael Franks sings,
True, we have had our differences there all along.
But who, who of us can say he has never been wrong?
Like the sky, this is all shadows and light.
I guess I would rather be happy than right.