The other night, my husband and I got into an argument after I brought up some news about China.
“It’s biased, you know? The Western media always wants to make China look bad.”
I didn’t disagree, really. So much of the news about China does slant towards the negative. And it’s no secret that certain outlets have an agenda when it comes to the kind of China they want to present to their Western audiences. And while I said I only wanted his view on it, a part of me somehow wanted his view to be consistent with mine. (Note to self — not exactly the best way to approach things.)
So it escalated — fast. He decried it as yet another anti-China story in the news, while I started hitting back with a sort of “why can’t you just admit it” argument that didn’t make me sound all that great. We yelled, we got red in the face, we cut each other off and we nearly lost our tempers — all over little more than a blip in recent news.
In our world, no couple is immune to the dangers of disagreement. Even when you’re citizens of the same country, you still have plenty of divisive, hot topics — things that Miss Manners would recommend you never bring up at dinner parties. In my own family, discussions about religion and political parties (as in, Democrat or Republican or Independent) could easily make tempers flare.
But when John and I disagree about topics that relate back to our countries of origin and citizenship, it somehow feels different — and frightening. Suddenly it’s as if I become yet another patriotic Westerner suspicious of China, while he becomes another patriotic Chinese suspicious of Western views. It’s a slippery slope that, if pushed too far, can suddenly lead you to see the one person you love more than anything like a stranger.
And it’s crazy, because I love John more than anything in the world. He understands me better than anyone I’ve known and has been my support and confidant in some of the most difficult and trying moments in my life. But yet somehow, in the heat of the moment, it’s as if all of that becomes irrelevant — as if we’re on opposite sides, pitted against one another in a fight for the truth.
Fortunately, the real truth is this — that we love each other. And thankfully, it’s the truth that wins out in the end for us.
Still, I think that argument gave me pause, because a part of me believed that John and I somehow had evolved beyond such squabbles. We hadn’t argued about politics for years. Maybe that absence somehow lulled me into believing that US-China politics wouldn’t set off a fiery conversation between us? Or that, somehow, I wouldn’t care if he disagreed? If so, how wrong I was.
Well, even though I’m a little out of practice in this regard, I still didn’t forget the best way to end an argument in marriage. Which is why I quickly made a joke about the disagreement, and then suggested that we take things back to the bedroom. And I won’t argue with the results.