Last night James and I engaged in a good long debate. We talked about unions and private versus public sectors. We went over the roles of women and men in society. We delved into job circumstances and the state of education. One topic meandered into another into another, morphing and evolving in exactly the beautiful way that debates occur.
I loved every second. My mind was racing, my thoughts ebbing and flowing, conceding here and digging my feet in there. It was almost 11pm when I stopped short.
"Are you angry?" I know I don't often pick up on small nuances in conversation, so I was abruptly halting an activity I was thoroughly enjoying. Suddenly I wasn't sure if James was enjoying it nearly as much as I was.
"Yes! I have to spend all day in my job arguing and now I've been sitting here the last two hours arguing with you."
Whoa. My eyes were opened and I saw it all in a way I hadn't before. You see, I love to debate, and when I debate it is very separate from any personal connection. I can just as hotly debate a position I completely disagree about as I can something I am passionately for. There is nothing personal in it for me at all. What I didn't connect is that James, as someone who is much more emotionally connected to life, felt each counterpoint as an attack. I don't think he disengages about anything (which is a huge character benefit. I often find myself at odds with a situation or a person because I am much less empathetic.)
What a difference between our two personalities. Here it was, 11pm, and I was feeling exhilarated, high, pumped, excited. But James was feeling attacked, drained, and exhausted. What I saw as an evening passed in an exchange and exploration of abstract ideas, he saw as a personal, frontal attack against his own convictions.
I apologized for having missed the social cue (again.) Then I thanked him profusely for spending an evening doing something I enjoy, even if he just needed to kick back and relax. I think debating and exploring and challenging ideas and world views is probably one of my favourite pastimes. And since in reality I spend my days debating the merits of bedtime and the reality of peeing into the toilet bowl and explaining why we can't go around licking the walls, I usually don't have much opportunity to interact in adult conversation. I sorely miss that.
It was a great evening (for me,) but I will have to remember to equate it with watching science-fiction movies...while I would do it now and then because James likes it, I don't want to spend every night doing that.