Do You Want The Relationship? Or Do You Wanna Be Right?
The Hottness has a really great saying: Do you want the relationship? Or do you wanna be right?
In essence, this statement calls for compromise. Or maybe not, depending on how you take it. It suggests that if you want to be in relationship with another person, you’ve gotta accept the fact you’re not always gonna be right. And, if you ARE right, sometimes you’ve just gotta swallow your pride and bite your tongue and decide the relationship is more important than winning the argument.
Today, I made a colossal mistake. I value human relationships above all other things. The immediate inverse is that, “Well, if you don’t stand up for what you believe, then you’re a pushover.” This is false. It means sometimes the fight is just not worth ruining the friendship. This morning, I should have listened to my wife’s advice. However, I failed.
In the wake of yesterday’s mass shooting in Connecticut, emotions are high. People everywhere (world wide, from what I’m hearing) are upset and crushed and all forms of distraught over the murder of these children and adults at the elementary school. Good. I’m glad we’re upset. That shows we’re human and have an inate sense of what is right and wrong and, when innocent people are harmed, it’s the most human of reactions to be crushed.
I respect the person I’m writing about, so I’m not going to use names or identifying characteristics. Let’s just say this guy and I have known each other since puberty. Today, he posted about how upset he was over the shooting and shared some opinions based strictly on emotion, not reality. I’m sure you’ve also seen lots of back and forth about how we can prevent these kinds of tragedies. Our discourse was probably similar to other things you’ve read.
When someone states a strong opinion, I feel it should be backed up with reason, research and, if nothing else, an admission like “I don’t know why I feel this way, I just do.” That’s impossible to argue. What I failed to do was to realize some people just need to vent. Whether their opinion is rational or correct is irrelevant, they just need to vent. Being a rational person (I think), I should have done a better job recognizing my friend’s need to vent.
When debating any topic, we all know we should fight fair. Everyone is entitled to his/her opinion. You to yours, I to mine. Often, though, in discussions, assumptions are made, people feel attacked and, when it gets really nasty, some resort to name calling. So went our discussion today. When debating, I try to stick to facts and opinions and theories, not personal attacks. After a good bit of back and forth, my conversational partner finished with, “You’re delusional.”
Now, I very may well be delusional. But, I feel a better way to state it would have been, “That opinion is delusional” or simply, “I think we’ll have to agree to disagree.” I took the “You’re delusional” comment personally, as it was probably intented. Resorting to name calling is simply the end of any progress.
The next thing I know, his wife has inserted herself in our dialogue. She said I was being ungentlemanly and, if I didn’t behave better to her husband, she was going to delete me from his friends list. She finished with, “Don’t bother responding.” To me, telling someone not to respond is the same thing as saying, “I’m gonna take my toys and go home.”
Of course, I responded. In retrospect, I should have just left it there. In an effort to try to smooth things over, I told her what a longstanding relationship her husband and I have, how I respect his opinions because he’s quite intelligent (which he is) and how, on the few occasions I’d met her, she struck me as quite intelligent, too. And that’s the truth. They are both smart. Which is why the next step was so disturbing.
It is never, ever smart to get in between two partners. The last thing I would ever want is to cause tension between two people committed to each other. So, my parting response was this:
“I’m confused by why we cannot have a discussion with differing viewpoints. If you feel you need to protect your husband and marriage by unfriending me, by all means, do it.”
I hoped this would show I value their marriage above my opinions. I hoped this would show I have no mal intent to either of them. It seems our discussion caused enough discontent that we are no longer friends. This is sad. And, it’s my fault.
My goal is always to discuss, give and receive information and hopefully strengthen a relationship through intelligent discourse. This, unfortunately, had just the opposite effect. For that and whatever role I played in any tension between my friend and his wife, I am sorry.
I don’t know what you’re supposed to take away from this. I’m sure if my friend or his wife is reading this, they’ll disagree how it has been portrayed. I’m just sorry that a 20+ year relationship is over because I had to be right.