Welcome once again to Fandango’s Provocative Question. Each week Fandango poses a provocative question for our consideration. Fandango says:
By provocative, I don’t mean a question that will cause annoyance or anger. Nor do I mean a question intended to arouse sexual desire or interest. What I do mean is a question that is likely to get you to think, to be creative, and to provoke a response. Hopefully a positive response.
Last week I asked for some suggestions for potential provocative questions and a few of you came through with some good ones. This one comes from Paula Light over at Light Motifs II. Her question revolves around interpersonal relationships. She asks…
When it comes to your friends, your spouse, your significant other, or members of your family, is it better to confront them about things they say or do that bother or upset you or is it better to try to ignore those things in order to maintain peace in your relationship?
It depends on several things: how close I am to that person or how well I know them; what the issue is (really important or trivial); my mood; the kind of person I’m confronting.
With my husband, I sometimes ignore whatever it is that bothers me (like leaving the toilet seat up) or if I am in a prickly mood, I will say something like, “I really wish you would…” But if it is really important, I will say something right away. Sometimes Dale is on the verge of saying something inappropriate (well, I know it’s inappropriate – Dale has no filter sometimes!), and I intervene to stop him, so he doesn’t offend the people he’s talking to or embarrass me (because he rarely gets embarrassed – that’s part of having no filter). What really gets me is when he picks on me to correct a habit and then HE starts doing the same thing! Like turning off lights. OK, I know our monthly payment to this senior community includes utilities, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t care about wasting electricity! I am always concerned about the environment, and don’t like to waste resources unnecessarily. He used to tell me to turn off the lights, but now he is the primary guilty one. I often just do it myself, because he does a lot for me, for us: laundry, dishes, and other things for the umpteenth time without complaining.
There are some people who are very sensitive, however. I have a friend that I really have to be careful what I say. I don’t criticize her ever. Sometimes she’ll be telling me something, and I say, “Oh, really?” – which is a common response to show interest – she takes it the wrong way, getting very defensive as if my response implied that I didn’t believe her.
I usually don’t confront family members, either – I’m too accommodating. My sister, for example, does something that is really annoying – during a concert or play, when I’m sitting next to her, I hear her murmuring to herself. She always does this, so I figure either she doesn’t realize she’s doing it or she can’t help it. I don’t know why she does this. Maybe it’s not that I’m accommodating, I’m just chicken! I don’t want to provoke or offend her, and I know I have little habits that offend other people too. Would I want them to confront me? I guess I would if it were serious, like if I had really bad body odor. I would want my friend or relative to tell me so I could do something about it.
Now that I’m thinking about it, I don’t confront most people about stuff that annoys me. Sometimes I avoid the person, if it’s possible – it depends on my mood. Dale is the only one that I do confront now and then. After all, I have to live with him, and nowadays, while we’re stuck at home, we’re together almost all the time.
In fact, when other people confront my son, I defend him even when I know they are right. That is because I don’t want him to be provoked because he easily gets out of control and starts yelling and swearing. He is very sensitive, so if someone hurts him, he overreacts. Then the other person gets mad and starts yelling and swearing back. But I know that he is fundamentally a kind person.
I’m also very sensitive. When someone hurts me, I tend to withdraw and lick my wounds, but if it happens often, I will confront the person. Dale sometimes yells “SHUT UP!” at me when he could react less strongly, or he yells at me from across the room in a tone of annoyance when we are on vacation, in other words, in a situation where others in our tour group witness it – that is very embarrassing. I do talk to him about this, but only when we are alone in our room. I have gotten into the habit of reminding him about this BEFOREHAND – because I know it’s going to happen when he gets annoyed when I linger to look at something or take a photo.
I think I know why I am reluctant to confront people about the things that bug me – I just want PEACE and HARMONY among the people I’m with.
Why can’t we all just get along?