No matter what the disagreement, the line I told you so! vindicates one person and charges the other with guilt. It’s so quick to come out of our mouths that it’s quite obvious these words have been in our brain for a while. This thought has probably been sitting there in our minds, just waiting for the opportune time to spout it off to prove that this time, we are right.
That’s because nobody likes to be wrong, and everybody wants to be right. So, when our spouse won’t listen to an opinion, take advice, or refuses to consider talking about an issue until it’s resolved, we’re a tad bit ruffled – and sometimes even angry. It’s not fair (it really isn’t) when someone refuses to listen to reason because their mind is already made up. Our concerns are trampled, our emotions ignored, and our suggestions overruled. Then, when we end up being right, the most natural thing in the world is to say I Told You So!
Natural does not equal “Right”.
The question I have to ask myself is this: Why do I feel the need to say these words? Does he need my help in figuring out that he was wrong? Will saying these words bring healing or drive a wedge?
There you have it. Answer those questions, and you’ll know exactly what’s going on in your head and your heart. Having these thoughts does not mean you are wrong and he’s still right. It doesn’t mean you should not think about the fact that he didn’t listen, won’t take your advice, or just bulldozes on ahead of you. The point is that speaking those words are not a way to communicate your frustration or concerns for future discord.
A right way to say I told you so!
I’ve found that less is more, and later is better. Don’t think Dave and I don’t talk about things when one of us was wrong and the other one could have said I told you so. We’ve learned that spouting off only adds fuel to the fire, and saying little allows the fumes to dissipate. Then, later, when there’s no sizzle or undercurrent, our minds are clearer and we can talk about it without spewing anger or hatred. Try this – you’ll find that it works.
There are times we need to address what happened in the past – later, after tempers are no longer flared. Approaching the subject without an attitude of I told you so will earn an easier ear. Explaining how what happened affected you is appropriate. Expressing your fear or hurt is important. Not using the words I told you so! when addressing issues will keep defenses down and improve listening. Never hide your hurt, fear, or frustration. Find ways to tell your man without accusing him with the words I told you so!
When I could have said I told you so!
Over 35 years ago, we were traveling on a nearly-empty tank of gas. I suggested we stop for gas, but my ever-optimistic husband was certain we had miles to go, and, after an exchange of thoughts between the two of us, he set out to prove the tank was not that low. I was pregnant with our first child, and I also requested a bathroom break. Dave was always willing to oblige, but this time the miles between exit ramps were further apart and I agreed that I could wait a little longer. This was before cell phones when we could have searched for “gas station near me”, and before vehicles registered how far one could go on what was in that tank. By now, I felt like my eyeballs were floating as this baby kept pressing harder on my bladder.
Then we ran out of gas.
Now the hope of a finding a restroom soon was gone. Dave had to walk while I sat in the car and worried about his safety and whether or not my bladder could hold another drop.
I’m sure you know what I wanted to say: I told you so. I was right. We should have – and could have – stopped for gas sooner. The only reason we were in this predicament was because the man I loved refused to listen to my reason and set out to prove me wrong. Only this time, I was right.
You know why I didn’t say I told you so? Because he already knew, and not saying those words gave me more power! He knew that I knew. Dave was also aware that I had a “right” to spout those words, because they were true. He noticed when I chose not to say those words.
The end result
Keeping my mouth shut was worth it, believe me. I chose to support the man I love in our predicament. When he got back to the car, he’d had plenty of time to think while my bladder filled up some more. His apology was sincere and humble. He had no excuses for what happened, but I rather think, had I said I told you so he might have found a way to justify the gauge ending up on empty, because in the past we had put more miles on a tank than on this day. Dave added enough fuel to the gas tank to get us to the next exit, where he helped me out of the car and to the restroom.
There are times I have failed, you can be certain. But the times I have been successful, I’ve experienced more power than the times I failed. It takes a bigger person to refrain from using those words than it does to put them out there for all to hear. Choose strength. You’ll be glad you did.
Communication takes practice and experience. Guilt-tripping someone is not communication. Expressing concern or hurt over times we could have said “I told you so!” is part of good communication. Choose less, and choose later. Then the temptation to cast condemnation will be gone and the desire to communicate well will win.
Photo credits: Pixabay.com