If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re coupled up, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve probably wondered more than once if fighting with your S.O. over something trivial was even worth the hassle. Of course thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the sweet validation of being right, but arguing over whose turn it is to pay the cable bill can be even more stressful than just paying the damn thing. So what would happen if you gave up on winning the argumentÃ¢â‚¬”every single time?
An interesting new case study aimed to find out, but it didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t exactly end well. To sum it up: When one partner stops trying to be right, it doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t make the relationship strongerÃ¢â‚¬”in fact, it may ruin it altogether. Researchers in New Zealand recruited a couple and asked them to rate their quality of life on a scale of 1 to 10 every day. Then the researchers decided that the man would rather be happy and the woman would rather be right (donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t worry, weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll get to how to ridiculous that is in a minute), so they told the man to agree with his partner for the remainder of the study. The woman wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t told about this partÃ¢â‚¬”she was just asked to rate her happiness each day.
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HereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what happened: The womanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s happiness score rose a tiny bit from an 8 to an 8.5, while the guyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s score swiftly plummeted from a 7 to a 3 as he went along with everything she said without ever voicing his own opinion. By day 12, when he was seriously hating life, he decided to stick a fork in the study and come clean. He explained what the study was actually about and how miserable he was. Ironically, not being right didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t make him happyÃ¢â‚¬”he actually said he felt more criticized than ever.
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Obviously, the researchers figured out that occasionally being right affects happiness levels. Or more importantly, constantly agreeing with your partner without ever voicing your own opinion will make you miserable in 12 days or less.
But even though we agree that letting your partnerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s opinion trump your own in every single conflict is one of the worst routes to relationship happiness, there are some major flaws in the study design. First, they only looked at one couple. Second, they just assumed that the women would prefer to be right all the time and that the man would prefer to be happy (or in this case, silent) without actually knowing anything about the coupleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s unique dynamic. And finally, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a little unrealistic to assume that any person would actually choose to be a doormat rather than have a few arguments with their S.O. If anything, this study seems to point to the need for a grey areaÃ¢â‚¬”one where both partners can voice their opinions and compromiseÃ¢â‚¬Â¦and maybe let a few things go on occasions when theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d prefer not to fight.
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