We've all heard the saying, "pick your battles." That sounds
like a good way to reduce unnecessary fights, but exactly how are
we supposed to pick the right ones? When I ask audiences at my
speaking events about this, many respond with comments like, just
pick the ones that are worth it or pick the ones you think you can
win. But, if you follow that advice, prepare yourself for more
battles, not less!
If we want to reduce the number of fights we have with our
spouse, children and/or friends, then there is only one way to do
it: Smarten up! How do you do that? It's easy. Before you open your
mouth to give some unwanted advice or criticism, ask yourself this
single best question: Does this affect me? If your answer is no,
then say nothing and don't pick the battle.
To give this wise question a reality check, I'll share a little
story. A husband (who shall remain nameless) was heading to work
one summer day when his wife thoughtfully suggested he take an
umbrella because according to the weather report there was a high
chance of rain. When that same husband returned home that evening
with dripping wet hair, his wife watched him shake off his coat and
pull off his wet shoes. She instinctively blurted out, "I told you
to take an umbrella," to which the husband naturally and expectedly
replied, "I don't mind getting a little wet."
"A little wet?" questioned the wife. "You look like you were in
a hurricane." And so, the husband responded a little louder, "I
like the rainfall on a warm day and I will never take an umbrella
because they are too annoying to carry around." The wife felt she
couldn't let such a ridiculous comment go unchallenged…and then the
In retrospect, it's clear that this was the wrong battle to
pick. But in the moment, how could this woman have known? The
answer is that she could have smartened up and asked herself how
this situation personally affected her. Was she sopping wet? No.
Was her husband asking her to blow dry his hair or dry his
clothing? No. His getting wet did not personally affect her, even
though it did annoy her. Therefore picking that battle was a bad
I'm sure there are many things that your spouse does that may
bother or annoy you, but how many of them truly affect you and take
up your time or money? Remember that your spouse is not perfect,
but you are not there to fix him or her. Rather than jumping in
with unnecessary criticism to spark a fight, be smart, take a
breath, and hold your tongue. This too shall pass.
Relationship advice from best-selling author Laurie Puhn
See more of Laurie's stories here.
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