Monday, July 15, 2013

On disagreeing

Lately I have been thinking about how various people deal with supporting their spouse in conversation.  For example, if your spouse says something that you feel is dead wrong when at a party do you correct them, say very respectfully that there exist alternate views, support their statement, or laugh at them and ask if they are willing to make a bet on that?  Generally I find that I lean towards polite disagreement because although I don't want to upset Wendy I do expect her to be strong enough to be able to deal with dissenting opinions.  If she could not deal with being wrong and admitting fault I wouldn't be particularly interested in her as a life partner.  Obviously insults are not appropriate in this context; suggesting that a person is incorrect is very different from calling them stupid.

It should surprise no one that Wendy enjoys catching me out in mistakes and proving me wrong when I make errors... I recall a disagreement over the specifics of a recipe a short while ago wherein she took great glee in proving that I misrecalled the instructions.  I *was* right in the sense that the recipe was silly and complex just for the sake of complexity but I was wrong about the particulars.  This is of course the right strategy for her to take because one thing I really want in a spouse is someone who can push me to be better, smarter, and more precise.  I need someone to call me on my shit, as Hobo once said.

I often find myself at a loss to figure out what to do when another couple is disagreeing about things though.  Obviously I could try to maneuver the conversation away from the touchy subject or otherwise try to avoid a potential conflict.  I could also poke at it and refuse to let it die with the intent of watching some fireworks; this latter choice seems imprudent in the long run but could certainly generate some entertainment.  When I am talking with people I don't have a lot of respect for I would generally choose to steer the conversation away I think because I don't have any desire to cause an explosion, particularly if I might be blamed for it.  When I am talking to people I respect though I would generally be inclined to simply proceed without paying much attention to the conflict.  Generally I assume that people can handle their own issues and don't expect me to pussyfoot around them.

This probably fits in nicely with how I talk to people in general.  The more I am just making polite noises the less respect I likely have for the person in question.  People who are strong and whose thoughts and reason I respect can handle the truth; people who I just have to deal with get small talk and a quick exit.  Note I am not claiming this is the right way or the only way... just that it appears to be my way.  I think it does imply that I have a lot of respect for those who choose to read my blog though as I do pretty much call it like I see it here.

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