Saturday, December 28, 2013

Debate Vs. Argument Vs. Fighting

So some of you may know that I'm in a relatively new relationship.  My boyfriend Joel Bruce is great.  He makes me happy, he makes me feel good, he makes me smile, all that good stuff.  There's just one problem.  He's an Atheist.  Now that isn't, or wouldn't be a problem in and of itself.  I've dated Atheists before, many of my closest friends and family members are Atheist, it isn't a problem for me.  Or wasn't until now.

Like I said, my relationship with my Joel is great, or would be, if it weren't for that one thing.  Why is it a problem?  Because we make it a problem.  We're both intelligent, passionate, and stubborn.  We're set in our beliefs, and neither one is willing to compromise.  The question is, should we?

For those of you who aren't aware, I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, aka Mormon.  I've always believed in what are referred to as "The Articles of Faith" (see:  I've always especially been fond of the 11th Article of Faith which states: "11 We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may."  I truly, and with all my heart believe that, and in doing so, I also respect people's beliefs, non-beliefs, etc.  I respect people religions, spiritualities, or lack thereof.  Again, I believe in letting people "worship how, where, or what they may."  So I'm good where I am, with what I know to be true (why I know it to be true is another long story for another day, but I'll elaborate if asked to do so), and I'm good with my boyfriend being an Atheist.  So the question is, why does is cause such turmoil in our relationship?

I have some ideas as to why, and I'd like to elaborate my ideas, or hypothesis' now.

First, the problem with me (or is it just a problem with me, for my boyfriend?) is that I'm an emotional person.  When I get into a heated debate or conversation, if I'm honestly open with that person, I wear my heart on my sleeve, so to speak.  Sometimes I get upset, sometimes my buttons get pushed, sometimes I get sad, sometimes I cry.  This is a problem for my boyfriend.  He doesn't seem to be able to handle my emotions, even though he expects me to handle his.  That's a problem.  I feel like I allow him to have his feelings and emotions, but I feel that I'm not allowed to do the same.  That's problem number one.

Second, the problem we have is that my boyfriend is very logical, rational, and scientific in his thinking.  The problem lies in that in a theological debate, and in matters of God, things aren't always what we currently understand to be logical, rational, or scientific (even though I believe they are, and that we just don't understand them, or don't yet have the capacity to understand such things).  My boyfriend wants scientific proof of God, proof via the scientific method (see:  The thing is, if God could be proven to exist, we wouldn't need to be here.  We're here to test our faith (see:, and if God gave us all the answers to the test of this lifetime, what would be the point of our being here?  There wouldn't be one.  The purpose of this life would be null and void.  So can the existence of God be proven?  I believe so, but I believe that we're not meant to find out that "proof" until we've, well, passed the test, as it were.

The next problem is, that about once a week or so, we get into some sort of existential debate, which most often turns into an argument, which turns into a fight.  Then we start slinging accusations and blame at one another, until the next thing you know, hours have gone by, and we're both emotionally exhausted, and broken.

Why does it have to be this way?  I don't want it to be this way.  I don't think my boyfriend wants it to be this way.  So why is it?  My boyfriend has often accused me of "thriving on drama".  He's not the first one that's accused me of such.  So I don't know, perhaps I do?  I don't mean to, I don't want to.  By no means is it an excuse, but I do suffer from mental illnesses, including Bi-Polar Disorder NOS (Not Otherwise Specified [meaning I don't fit into type one or type two]).  I've had this illness, which involves clinical chronic depression, for most of my life.  It's controlled (for the most part) by medication and therapy.  For the most part, considering what I've been through (a boat load of more stories, for another time), I would say I do pretty good.  I'm very high functioning, and for the most part a happy person.  I've especially been happy lately, particularly since I met my boyfriend, and those that are close to me have noticed this as well.  Now my boyfriend, on the other hand, says that he wants someone that will take away from and relieve his stress, not someone that adds to it (which apparently I do, a lot).  Personally I try to focus on the 99% of the time that we have together that is good, whereas he seems to focus on that 1% of the time where things aren't very good at all.  Now I understand that this is human nature, that most people remember and focus on negative events over positive ones (they seem to make a deeper impression in our minds), so I understand why he does this.  I just want him to stop focusing on the negative, and focus on the positive.

I think perhaps it all boils down to a communication problem.  We both accuse one another of not listening to the other.  I've come to realize that I don't think this is actually the case, that we are listening to each other, we're just not focusing on the things that the other person wants the other to focus on, and it seems like we're not listening to each other because of that.

So how can we remedy this situation?  Because it needs to be remedied.  It's gotten so bad, that we've almost lost one another because of it, and I, for one, don't want that to happen.

Now as I said, my boyfriend is a very logical and scientific-minded person.  He tagge me in this "Debate Flow Chart" on Facebook the other day, and I "liked" it, and he took that for me agreeing to "debate" following those rules.  The problem is, when the time came for another theological discussion, I didn't have the flow chart in front of me, and apparently didn't follow the rules.  But then again, should I HAVE to follow any rules when it comes to conversing with my boyfriend?  Should I?  I don't know.  Take a look at the flow chart, and see what you think:

(click to enlarge)

Now on most occasions, and for most topics, I would agree with this flow chart, and how it works.  The problem is, when it comes to certain things, I just can't follow those rules.  Theological matters are one of those things.  At the first part of the flow chart is where I get stuck.  It says, "Can you envision anything that will change your mind on this topic?"  The thing is, my answer, if I'm being honest, is no.  That leads to the rule on the flow chart that says, "This is not a discussion. I will not talk to you about this topic.".  Now is this fair?  I don't think so.  I think we can still have a discussion even if I can't envision anything changing my mind regarding the topic.  And for the most part, in the past, we have continued the discussion anyway, which then leads to debating, arguing, fighting, etc.  So lately I've noticed that my boyfriend has been avoiding such conversations, perhaps in effort to avoid confrontation.  The problem is, he still continues to bring up subjects, then I want to talk about them, but he refuses to.  Case in point, the other day my boyfriend tagged me in a post containing this article (, "But I'm a Good Mormon Wife".  He didn't make any comments about it, but since he tagged me in it, I figured he wanted me to comment, so I did.  This is what I said in reply to the article:

I'm sad when I hear stories like this.  Don't people realize that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God's Church, NOT Joseph Smith's Church?  Even if what anti-Mormon media says about Joseph Smith is true, don't people realize he was HUMAN, and as such, a fallible being?  The only thing he, as Joseph Smith, The Prophet?, and President of the Church couldn't do was lead the entire Church astray.  That's all that God said.  He didn't say he was perfect, infallible, unable to be corrupted.  In fact, it says in the scriptures that were a Prophet to lead the Church astray, He would be taken from the Earth.  Maybe that's why Joseph Smith died?  I don't know.  However, that said, I still don't believe what I know to be  lies about Joseph Smith, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  I would encourage people to learn both sides of the story, instead of just one, and then earnestly pray with a sincere want for knowledge and ask God if it's true or not.  A lot of the information in this article is incorrect, and subjective, not objective.  It's a personal story, by a person (again, people are fallible, corruptible, imperfect, and all that).  There's some things that she talked about as though it was Church Doctrine, that isn't.  That God should come before your spouse?  Actually, as far as I've always been taught in the Church, it's the exact opposite.  As for the Urim and Thummim being a stone in a hat?  What, has she been watching South Park?  It even describes here, in Extracts from the History of Joseph Smith, the Prophet exactly what the Urim and Thummim are..."35 Also, that there were two stones in silver bows—and these stones, fastened to a breastplate, constituted what is called the Urim and Thummim—deposited with the plates; and the possession and use of these stones were what constituted “seers” in ancient or former times; and that God had prepared them for the purpose of translating the book." Nowhere does it talk about a stone in a hat.  So that point right there tells me that the author of this article is misinformed.  Anyway, I could go on, and will, if anyone would like me to, but I think I've gotten my point across.  This blog entry is just that, a blog entry, a personal story, etc.  It doesn't make it true, objective, or right.

Later that night I was talking to my boyfriend online and I said, "So you never replied to my reply about the article you posted."  "What article?," he asked.  "The one about being a "Good Mormon Wife", I replied.  "I don't want to talk about it," he said.  Now this upset me.  Here he had clearly been the one this time (we've argued over who started the conversation in the first place many times), and now here he was refusing to talk about it.  This didn't seem fair to me, or right, and so of course it upset me, and I got a bit confrontational with him.  Once again, it turned into a fight, and it wasn't pretty.  I accused him of not being willing to follow his own rules, but forcing me into it, and he accused me (once again) of thriving on drama, and needing help.  That of course didn't go over well, with either of us.

Eventually I gave up trying to get him to talk about it, and tried my best to smooth things over.  But the tension, even though we were online, was palpable.

Things have gotten better since then, and we haven't gotten into a fight since, but things are still strained.  I'm trying my best to make it work, I even posted the following "10 Commandments of Rational Debate" to him, as a sign that I was willing to follow such rules:

(click to enlarge)

So the questions I have now are, where do we go from here? How do we fix this problem?  Can it be fixed?  Are we willing to change or compromise regarding this subject?

Anyway, if anyone has any insights, suggestions, or words of wisdom, I could really use them right now.  Even if you just tell me what you think about the situation, I would appreciate it.  I don't want to lose my boyfriend.  I love him, and I want him in my life.  So what can we do to resolve these issues?  Thank you for any insight or knowledge you can provide me with.  That's all for now...until next time, I hope all this finds all of you well.

Kindest Regards,


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