I’m sure that every newlywed has mountains of great things to say about their spouse. So I apologize if this title makes you roll your eyes, and you now have the sudden urge to pop a heart-shaped balloon. I promise, I don’t carry the illusion that my husband and I will not have our abundant variety of differences; but at this point in our marriage, I am so appreciative of the things that I learn from him. Actually, if it tempers your cynicism to know this, a disagreement with him is exactly what inspired my writing this in the first place.
I recently had an argument with my husband. It was about as heated an argument as we’ve ever had. We expressed very polarized opinions on a political matter. We shared our opinions, our views, our experiences, beliefs… and we never ever reached a conclusion that we agreed upon. No one changed their mind, or came to feel enlightened or changed by the exchange of information.
[Just for the record. I was right. Obviously.]
And what happened when we concluded this inconclusive argument… we got out of the truck, unloaded our groceries, kissed, and made dinner. We had no sore spots or resentments. No one was hurt that the other didn’t change their mind. It was just this beautiful disagreement; we chose to accept each other’s mindset, and continue forward.
It made me think about what would happen if everyone in the world could do this. If we could all simply accept that another person will not share our opinions. That one line of thinking doesn’t work for all, regardless of your opinion, research, data, beliefs or otherwise.
I know, I know, you’re thinking “But Tanya, data and research DO matter. These are unequivocal FACTS.” – and to that I say: Have you ever tried to change someone’s mind about something? Anything? It doesn’t matter how much fact or validity you bring to your argument, you can’t change someone’s mind. Educate them, and move on. The only person that can change their mind is themselves. [Insert politically sensitive vaccine debate here.]
I said it earlier to be funny… but I truly believe that I am unequivocally correct regarding my position in my husband and I’s argument. I think that my belief about that matter is more objective, and expresses a better reflection of reality. But you know what? IT DOESN’T CHANGE HIS MIND.
Why are we constantly trying to change peoples’ minds and beliefs? What would happen if we simply trusted that someone will find their way to information and enlightenment in their own time, in their own way. Or heaven forbid our own mind is changed somewhere along the way.
Having your belief system (or lack-thereof) shook is terrifying. Especially if any part of your identity is wrapped into that belief system. I think we experience a certain amount of shame – or perhaps simply sheepishness when our minds change. So, in effort to save our pride, we hold onto that old belief… so we don’t have to admit that something shifted. We can maintain the status quo. It’s safe there, where everything is the same.
I have experienced some dramatic shifts over the past few years. Some that have made me question much of what I’ve come to learn. The biggest take-away I have rested with is to stay humble. That regardless of my conviction in a belief or fact – it can come to pass that that information is no longer relevant. I think of it as a software update. Out with what once was – and in with the new. And sometimes the initial adaptation of the new way is difficult [think about how you feel when Facebook updates its platform] – but ultimately, objectively, the new information is better, more comprehensive, and eventually you forget the previous once you’ve fully integrated the new. And repeat this cycle as needed, for the REST OF YOUR LIFE.
People in younger generations criticize our elders for their lack of flexibility. You know the term: “Stuck in their ways.” – and yet we all can have these parts that are stuck. And lack of awareness of this stuck mentality will leave us as some version of Mr. Wilson shaking our fist on the front porch grumbling on about “Kids these days.”
[That was a Dennis the Menace reference, did you get that? 80s babes, I’m looking at you.]
Stay humble, stay adaptable, stay young.
I have learned so much from my husband – to be kinder, more patient; to offer greater compassion, and be aware of selfish behaviours. I have learned to be more spontaneous (I’m practicing) and to laugh shit gets awkward. I have learned to be less of a dick – and, just as importantly, more of one when the circumstance calls for it. I have learned that you can be so kind, and still draw very firm boundaries.
And one of my most favourite, and recent lessons:
I have learned that you can love someone, accept someone – and therefore can ABSOLUTELY tolerate someone – even when your opinions do not align.