Connect2 Marriage Counseling

What Do You Get Out of Being Stubborn?

Oxford Languages defines stubborn thus: “having or showing dogged determination not to change one’s attitude or position on something, especially in spite of good arguments or reasons to do so.”

We are seeing stubbornness on a global scale, to the detriment of all. Yet this column is about couples, so I’ll narrow my focus to that.

Traits generally have both positive and negative aspects. Think about your stubborn streak. What do you get out of being stubborn? What does it do for you, for your life? Have you thought what it’s like for your partner to be on the other end of your stubbornness? What the outcomes are of being stubborn?

I’m not sure if there are generalizations I can make about stubbornness. I asked my husband this question last week, and it opened an entire can of worms; maybe a case of cans of worms. I’ll respect his privacy, so that’s all I’ll say about that.

I know I utilize several facets of stubbornness in my own life. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Persistence is on the stubbornness spectrum. Persistence has served me well (getting a publishing contract, for example). Doing well in my career is fruit of persistence. Finishing what I start. Etc.

One downside of persistence is getting on peoples’ nerves; irritating them.

  • Advocacy is also on the stubbornness spectrum. I used advocacy when my husband was in cancer treatment. I made sure he had the best care. I made sure they reduced his second chemo dose to the prescribed amount. I told them “If you don’t redo it, we refuse chemo treatment today.” He came close to death after the correct dose. What might have happened if they gave him more?

One downside of advocacy is that it can be exhausting; even if necessary.

  • Boundaries are a healthy form of stubbornness. I’ve reached a stage in which I don’t want people in my life who cross my boundaries or speak to me in unhealthy ways. I make concerted (persistent) efforts to sort through situations that occasionally arise with people. If we can’t work through it in respectful ways that may lead to better communication and connection, I’m out. It’s taken a long time to learn how to stand up to certain people.
  • Stubborn: I was stubborn with my car insurance company after I was rear-ended. Their offers were pitiful. I went to arbitration and got a reasonable settlement in the end. (Make sure you have under-insured motorist coverage!)

Please take the time to think deeply about yourself and stubbornness. See what you notice, and if there are behavior changes you might want to make with your partner. Perhaps there are changes you want to make just for yourself, too. Don’t judge yourself; just be curious.

Let me know what you discover.