"I told you so." These may be the four most despised words to a husband. Oh, they feel so good, so justified coming out of your mouth. But what damage they do to your intimate relationships!
As women, we often put our husbands in a no-win situation. We ask them to lead or make decisions, but as soon as they step forward, we correct them by reminding them that we know better. The message is, "Lead, but lead the way I tell you to!"
No one likes to be wrong, but failing is infinitely worse when someone rubs it in. Saying, "I told you so," usually comes with an agenda. It does nothing to change the outcome of the original decision but sends a strong message about how things should be handled in the future. In essence, it is like saying, "We wouldn't be in this mess if only you listened to me."
Whenever those four words "I told you so" screamed to be aired, they are in reality totally unnecessary. Your husband knows when you were right. To rub it in can result in two things: him not wanting to take leadership in the future or him becoming more desperate to prove that he is capable.
I had to learn this the hard way. As a young wife, I often said, "I told you so" not so much with my words as with my non-verbals. Then I began to realize that every time I adopted a critical and judgmental attitude toward Mike, he became less willing to lead the next time. Although I don't always see things the way my husband does, I long for him to be a strong leader.
I had to ask myself the question, am I more invested in proving that I was right or creating intimacy in my marriage? At the end of the day, who cares who is right when your marriage is falling apart? I'd much rather swallow my pride and work toward building trust.
Instead of "I told you so," try saying something like, "Hey, we're in this together. No one will get it right all the time." When your opinion was the better one, but you resist the temptation to gloat, your encouragement will a long way in building your husband's confidence. He will feel less threatened and therefore more willing to listen to your perspective in the future. Ironically, by refusing to state that you are right, you may give up an immediate opportunity to gain the upper hand, but you will ultimately become a far more influential wife.
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Juli Slattery is a widely known clinical psychologist, author, speaker, and broadcast media professional. She co-founded Authentic Intimacy, and is co-author of Passion Pursuit: What Kind of Love Are You Making?