Let’s Have A Serious Discussion.

There is a lot of debate on the subject of serious conversation in relationships and how good or bad it can be. So I am weighing in with this revelation: serious discussion is not kryptonite to romance.

There is a social rule that says that when in polite society you don’t discuss religion, politics or air your dirty laundry. And for some reason we have decided that every romantic relationship, from teenage dates, to courtship, to marriage, is the most extreme form of polite society. That you will never get the attention, sex, affection or commitment you desire if you speak about such terrible matters with each other. Keep your opinion on abortion between friends and your religion for your family, but your husband doesn’t need to know. Talk about foreign policy with your brothers and your emotional hangups with your best friend, but don’t let your girlfriend hear a word.

Of course, this is all well and good if you’re starting out in a relationship with a lot of interest in the other person, a specific goal in mind and don’t want to ruin it by having a huge argument about welfare programs a week into knowing them. You want this to work and, of course, until you’ve got to know each other a little, you don’t actually know whether their religion would be a dealbreaker to either of you or whether you are happy to live with their diagnosed mental disorder forever.

But it seems that people hold onto this approach far beyond it’s usefulness. It’s the standard idea that if something has worked for a week or a month, it will still work. And, of course, far more relationships make it into the third month when you see each other once a week, hang out like teenagers and never meet the other’s family or learn their ideologies. So your head does the math and says “Well, it seems we are more successful at keeping people around when we just don’t talk about anything serious.” And you keep doing that. Which is fine if all you want is to go along for the ride and then to step aside when a better prospect moves in.

But if you want something specific or lasting, that approach just isn’t conductive. Your two hundred exes don’t make you a relationship expert who is doing the right thing. They either make you someone who only wants sex and/or brief companionship or someone who is going about romance and relationships all wrong.

Instead, what you should do once you’ve built that basic layer of trust and familiarity is build intimacy. And intimacy is built by showing your emotions and expressing your thoughts, not by keeping up a facade indefinitely. Frank, friendly debate is good for that. It allows you to deal with charged topics in an amoral setting, to discuss things that matter to you without worrying that this discussion will harm the relationship.

Of course, in the modern world where we’ve come to believe everything is a debate platform, it’s also important not to let your discussions turn into cold political shows for any possible onlookers. When you start a debate on abortion in a restaurant, be certain your partner will be more defensive of their point and appearance than loving towards you. This sort of discussion isn’t exactly organic, but it does flow naturally when in a private setting where both of you feel at ease being honest and appreciative. You don’t want them to be on the defensive. You’re not trying to convert or convince each other. You’re just talking in a relaxed, private setting, to get to know each other. In such a setting, not only will the debate become deeper and more varied, but you will learn a lot more about the other person. And learning about someone in a private setting is good for bonding. Even if what you learn isn’t all good, the little details and those shreds of humanity that you pick up on can make you realize whether they, the relationship or your perspective are more important to you.

Not only is it possible to love someone passionately and disagree with their stance on the housing crisis at once, it can also be a source of romance to have that debate, to tickle each other’s brains and establish that playful push and pull that makes you close. If you can create playfulness and intimacy around serious disagreements and still love someone despite believing them to be objectively wrong, it’s also arguably a sign that you’re going to last a long time. After all, if you are able to discuss all sorts of things, find no dealbreakers and understand that everything is less important than you two as a unit, then something is going right. And the longer the relationship is and the more you talk, the more comes to the surface. Meaning being ten years into an honest relationship where you see each other daily puts you on better ground for knowing where it’s headed than being ten years into an uncommunicative relationship where you see each other weekly. If after ten years of talking the butterflies are still there, that is important. If after ten months of never talking the butterflies are still there, that is meaningless.

So whether your relationship started as one of tens of ignorant romantic partnerships or arose from one of tens of close friendships, if you want it to last, a discussion on Faust wont do anything that another two months wouldn’t do anyway.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

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7 thoughts on “Let’s Have A Serious Discussion.

  1. Discussions should be appropriate to the social context. In “party” contexts (where inhibitions are lowered due to alcohol, drugs, or social expectations), serious discussions are awkward.

    At Bible studies or among Christian friends, religious topics might be appropriate. Same with political discussions among friends of similar political persuasions.

    With your SO, it’s fine for a woman to get serious, but a man should maintain a light, playful tone, even when the topic is serious. Vigorous debates can be fun, but only if the man is very adept at reading subcommunications and defusing tension.

    When it comes to relationships and their success, it’s up to the man to be able to manage the emotional chemistry of the woman. I’ve written a post about that.

    https://theasdgamer.wordpress.com/2014/10/23/managing-your-relationship-with-your-wifegirlfriend/

    I have serious discussions with my wife from time to time. We’ve had vigorous debates, even with rancor (like when I wanted us to home school and she was adamantly opposed), but those “fights” end up being tempests that blow over. I won the home schooling debate by showing Mrs. Gamer that I could teach our kids to read at a high level in a matter of weeks.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s another thing. When two people can’t handle each other emotionally and revert to either complete coldness or an emotional explosion whenever they disagree, that is a sign of issues to come. Whether you had that conversation then, five years before or a year later, the conclusion would likely have been the same for you and Mrs Gamer. Likewise, if two people can’t talk about something that serious without one of them storming out the room every time, that’s a simple compatibility issue. They have to decide whether that person is worth the hundreds of compromises they’re bound to have to make. And they will probably separate eventually, even if they compromise continually and try to avoid the landmines.

      Jon and I are a bit cut off from that in that we don’t really emotionally react to much at all, so we can vehemently disagree on something very important to us whilst cuddling on the sofa and debating until consensus is formed. So I’m not sure how I would handle someone who reacted emotionally. However I’ve seen it happen often enough and emotional arguments are so common that there has to be a way of defusing and redirecting them, such as your suggestions for men. But even that is a sign of compatibility. What man would play that game if it wasn’t a small price for him to pay?

      Like

      • We have had a lot of emotional tempests in our 3+ decades of marriage. We have a lot of sexual and romantic attraction that seems to keep us coming back together. Maybe a Divine actor in our marriage as well.

        As I have begun to understand the emotional chemistry of women, I think that the tempests have been less common and less emotionally violent. Our weekly relationship “down time” seems to have diminished. Mrs. Gamer seems more emotionally stable.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I think you should be free to share your opinions on anything that matters to you with anyone who matters to you. Not debate, necessarily, just where you stand on various issues. If they have a major problem with that, then they have a major problem with YOU.

    Certainly, not something you discuss on the first date, but if I were dating for anything other than the entertainment value, something you’d start bringing out within the first month.

    I have good and valued friends who hold different views on the big issues of the day, and we’re able to speak to one another with respect. Should I expect less from my spouse?

    And more than that, when you do get married, you’re holding a united front… how can you hold a united front if you’re not willing to unite??

    People are so afraid to scare other people off that they won’t be who they are. :p Scary Christian Lady says, “don’t worry about it”.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My husband and I had some serious discussions about religion (and his serious doubts about it at the time) almost as soon as we realized that we were growing strong feelings for each other. Somehow it managed to not turn into a blow up or argument, and we even ended up in a successful marriage. Go figure.

    In the current culture everyone yells at each other or has a habit of putting on their @ssh0le hat when they take to the keyboard. It’s also where most people are most honest about what they really think more than anywhere else. And a good percentage of people have more conversations online than anywhere else.

    The result is that most have developed a fear of being real with people even more than usual. And the masks of feigned politeness leave people with watered down relationships, which is too bad.

    Liked by 2 people

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