Having the last word does feel great; every "I told you so" and "I'm glad you finally see it my way" is like earning a point on the marital scoreboard. But marriage isn't a game, and when you add up all those points, they can be costly. At best, you might get a short-lived feeling of triumph; at worst, you'll be left with a resentful partner and tension in the air. "The desire to be right is human," says Dr. Heitler. "But thinking that he has to be wrong for you to be right is self-defeating."
Begin the letting-go process by looking at disagreements not as "me versus him," but as a situation that both of you have to work out together. With that in mind, Dr. Haltzman recommends not compromising -- which implies that nobody's going to be perfectly satisfied. Instead, work together to find a solution that pleases both of you. "The result is that you often come up with more creative and interesting outcomes," he says.
It can help, Dr. Heitler adds, to start by assuming that you're both right. Erin Horvat recalls a disagreement she and her husband had about renting a second home in Vermont for the winter. She thought the price was too high and the six-hour drive too long. But as they talked, she reminded herself how much he loved skiing. Eventually, he came up with a plan that worked for everyone: Invite several other families to go in on the rental and split the costs. Each family reserves one week, with weekends open for everyone. Erin's family deals with the boring drive by playing car games like "20 Questions."
In the end, Erin realized that the time spent relaxing and bonding as a family was well worth the long trip and the financial investment. "The longer I'm married, the more I realize that it doesn't get you anywhere to push your way," she says.