I’m not the best think on my feet type of person. I read and form opinions based upon facts and statistics that I can occasionally recall but more often completely forget. So when I find myself in a discussion with someone who may have a differing opinion to mine, I mostly just have to listen because any defense I can scramble together sounds flimsy without the citations that might be able to back me up. A lot of my friends are very good at this type of recall which I seem to lack entirely.
I suppose I do just fine in an argument that I have the time to think out and write down. But when antagonism comes at me out of the blue, I get flustered and lose all the conversational poise or eloquence that I might have fooled myself into thinking I possess. In situations like that, I have to phrase and rephrase until I get closer to saying what I mean to say. And I still usually don’t quite make it. I get even more tongue tied when things get personal or emotional.
All this to justify why I don’t enjoy confrontation in any form. Usually when we’re talking confrontation, we’re talking about something important happening in an important relationship. Even if I have well-thought case, I choke on it before I can speak it clearly enough to get my point across. If it’s something I’m tense about or emotionally invested in, forget it. Words get clipped as my brain slows down to process, which drops me out of the race, so to speak. Which ends up making me more tense and less likely to articulate my thoughts. And then I stew. Because by that time, the subject changes, or the room goes silent, or someone has to leave, or something else happens that leaves me in that heightened state of argument with nowhere to release the pressure.
I’m usually just fine with this particular flaw in my personal interactions because it’s not something that plagues me very regularly. And I actually do enjoy participating in discussions among friends or acquaintances about politics or religion or other touchy important issues, even if my participation is limited to listening due to my own limited debating abilities. But when it comes to a marriage and a partnership in child rearing, this particular limitation becomes a little more complex and irritating. Because we obviously both just want to do what’s best. And we can all get thrown out of whack from a disagreement. Especially a passionate one, like opinions about what that best thing is. Especially because we’re not used to arguing. Especially if those difficult subjects come up at inopportune times.
So I write and rewrite my side, my thoughts, my argument in private, and I try to say what I mean when we’re trying to say things. I hope that when I share the written part the talking part will be easier. And I know that ultimately, everything will be just fine because of the love and respect that’s in there with all those words, even if it’s less apparent than usual.