Being gracious about differences in how you remember

Who's right, who's wrong? © Gennaro Guarino |

Yesterday I gave you a lot of information on how faulty memory can be. The short version is that our memories are not nearly as accurate as we think they are, and we have no way of internally checking or verifying how accurate any memory is. It’s like trying to tell if you have a fever by putting your own hand on your forehead – it just does not work!

So what does (or should) this mean to us as husbands? As I accepted the hard reality that my memory was not as good as I wanted it to be, I became far less adamant about details that I remembered differently than the way my bride remembered them. At least one of us was wrong, but how could I be sure I was right and she was wrong? Even when I felt sure in a particular instance, I realised it was extremely unlikely that I was right significantly more often than she was. In fact, to believe such a thing would be pride, something God does not seem impressed with.

I have learned to accept these memory differences as minor but unimportant irritations that usually cannot be solved. If neither of us can prove we are right, then it’s a waste of time to argue about it. If one of us can prove we are right, is it really important enough to go to the trouble? Occasionally it is important enough, not to prove who is right, but because it’s a rare issue where the correct information is important now. When it’s possible and important to get it right, fine – when it’s not, why do it?

If you’ve taken pride in your memory, as I once did, please pray about it. Are you really an exception? Do you really have a far less fallible memory than the population as a whole? Do you have external evidence substantiating your self-perception? The odds are high that your memory is not nearly as good as you think it is.

Image Credit: © Gennaro Guarino |
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2 Comments on “Being gracious about differences in how you remember

  1. So right!
    Let it go — unless it’s important, like whether a bill really did get paid — and you will have one fewer thing getting between you and your bride, one less thing draining the love out of your marriage. I too have learned this the hard way over 15 years of marriage.

    Give your wife the benefit of the doubt. Let her be the “+1”!

  2. I did have an excellent memory when I was younger; it was pretty common knowledge among family and school. But as I have aged I certainly don’t trust my memory nearly so much any more; and yes we have had arguments just like that. I have realized that most of the time it really isn’t important anyway.
    I also loved your comment that pride is “something that God doesn’t seem impressed with”. That gave me a chuckle. Yes, I believe that no where in scripture is there a mention of “righteous” pride. It is always shown negatively. But I have learned that usually if you were to replace the word “Pride”with “Gratitude” you will find that the word works better for most of our feelings; at least if our heart is right.

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