May/June 2020

Taking the Lead

Embracing Two Right Ways

Linda Klein & John Hinton IV

Chris and Pat, a wise couple, told us a story about a change in their relationship that transformed their marriage. Soon after their wedding, they divided their household responsibilities. A well-ordered home was important to both spouses, but their standards for what constituted “well-ordered” differed. Each spouse eagerly and diligently carried out responsibilities. However, each spouse was guilty of correcting the other if the work was deemed not up to standard. This led to conflict. Chris expressed frustration that Pat’s task was not done the right way and redid it. Pat was equally frustrated, perhaps insulted, that hard work was not recognized and was redone.

That pattern continued until Pat came up with an idea—there would be two right ways to do any task. This required each spouse to let go of the idea that their way was the right way, and it transformed their marriage. Recognizing that there are two right ways to do a task was not an admission that one person’s way was not the best. Instead, it was a recognition that if the other person’s way got the job done, they were welcome to do it that way. Resentments subsided, the work got done, and both were more productive.

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