Wendyl Nissen
Wendyl Nissen on being 'The Supportive Wife'

Wendyl Nissen: Happiness is the right to be right

He always wins... but a simple piece of headwear gave me a single triumph and two bottles of champagne

For some couples, arguing is a part of life, no matter where they are. Photo / Getty Images
For some couples, arguing is a part of life, no matter where they are. Photo / Getty Images

I once listened to a couple embark on an argument at a party about which one of them was right.

"He's nearly six foot tall."

"No he's not, he's under six foot."

"You're wrong, he's at least six foot one."

They kept at each other, batting the six-foot debate across the room. Both had tuned out of their surroundings where a group of people were trying to have a fun, social time, and were completely focused on winning.

As I watched this rather shocking display I realised that it was not going to end any time soon. One of them had to be right.

Most of us don't need to have the "right" argument at social occasions, but some couples can't seem to control the putrid bubbling mass of discontent which lives at the vortex of their relationship.

As a supportive wife, I think it's important to let the husband be right on some things. Basic facts and knowledge, he's always right. Lifestyle changes, raising of children, spending of money - that's always debated fairly and calmly. Well, most of the time.

I married a man who is very high up the scale of knowing stuff, and has the academic study and the reading to back that up. He is always right.

I did, however, draw a few boundaries around how my husband expressed his rightness.

In the early days he liked to correct me when I was wrong.

"Okay, I get it," I snapped at him. "You are always right, but you don't have to make a bloody performance of it every time. Pull your head in."

These days, I know when I get it wrong because there is a barely perceptible twitch which occurs in his right eyebrow for just a second. A sure sign that he is manfully suppressing the urge to correct me.

So I was not at all surprised when a recent study, conducted at the University of Auckland, found men are very happy to be right and extremely miserable when their wives are right.

The researchers found a couple who were happy to record their quality of life on a daily basis.

But what they didn't tell the wife was that they had asked the man to agree with her about everything. So he agreed with his wife on every opinion and request she made, even when he didn't agree.

As the study progressed, the wife became happier. But the husband became so miserable, marking his scores down from seven to three, that the study was called off after 12 days to prevent any "severe, adverse outcomes".

The researchers concluded that humans need to be right and acknowledged as right, at least some of the time, to be happy.

Surely, I thought, if that is true then I must be very unhappy with the state of things in my home.

I have been right only very occasionally, and the most recent occasion was so momentous that I received two bottles of champagne.

We were drinking with friends and for some reason began to talk about snoods. My husband assumed the authority on snoods and informed us that they were headbands. Bravely, I begged to differ.

"I think you'll find that a snood is a netting thing you wear over your bun at the back of your head," I pounced.

"No, you're wrong," he said.

"Look it up, and if I'm right you buy me two bottles of Veuve."

The iPhone came out and I was, unusually, right. And the best bit was that there were witnesses to my rightness.

It did indeed make me very happy, for days and days and then weeks and weeks as I kept reminding him of my newfound ability to be right.

Thanks to a simple piece of feminine headgear, this supportive wife went from an 8 to a 9 on the quality of life scale.

- NZ Herald

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