Picking Battles

A few weeks back my husband and I had dinner with a couple that we are somewhat friendly with. I say somewhat because I would not consider them really close friends but rather friends we socialize with a few times a year. We have been to their home for holiday parties, they have been to our parties, and we have had dinners together. I am fonder of the wife than I am the husband. The reasons for that will become clear. 

This particular dinner was held at our home on our lovely new paver patio. They arrived around dinner time. I prepared some appetizers; we shared two bottles of wine, ate food from the grill and later enjoyed a fabulous dessert. The entire event lasted about four hours.

At one point in the evening, my husband left with friend’s wife to go make coffee or prepare something in the kitchen. I am outside with the husband and we are having conversations ranging from politics to social mores to religion.  I should note this gentleman is very religious and I am not. He is also very conservative and I am not. He is also approximately 20 years older than me.  I share all that for context.

Some part of the religious conversation turned him towards “gays, fags and homosexuals”.  I am physically startled at his crass words. I gulp but let him rant on.  He is a passionate guy, opinionated, strong willed, fixed in his conservative, white male, religious beliefs.

As he continues to go on about the fags of the world, he hones in on lesbians.

“Can you tell me why those dykes use strap ons? If you have no interest in the male form, why do you purchase and use products that are clearly derived from the male? I don’t get it. They are all a disgrace. A sin against the Lord.  Freaks and faggots” he says VERY loud.

I squirm a bit.  Okay, I squirm A LOT. This man is everything I am not. His beliefs are at total odds with who I am and how I live my life. Having had many challenging conversations with this man in the past, not being much of a fan of him, I ponder if I really want to get into this conversation with him. I evaluate how much this conversation really means to me, how much this relationship means to me and how often I see this gent.  Most importantly, I wonder how he will respond if I let him know that I have a “gay” “fag” “dyke” daughter (she prefers queer femme but I assume I would have to speak his language to make an impact). I consider commenting sarcastically that I don’t know if she uses strap on sex toys but if she ever talks to me again I might consider asking her. I then realize that would lead to a discussion of why she doesn’t talk to me, her adopted status and likely his approval of her being given to strangers when I was young and unwed.  I have an entire conversation and debate with him in my head. I decide I am not going to comment, not going to engage him.

This may be shocking to some people. For me, it amounts to evaluating the investment I have in the relationship and where I want it to go in the future.

I have zero investment in this guy.  It is his wife I like. We see them a few times a year.  He is not someone I would ever be close with, would ever want to see on a regular basis. His opinions, his views are not mine and never will be. I am also quite confident that mine will never be his. 

I could consider telling him he is offensive. I could get agitated. I could stomp off. I could throw things. I could engage in a lengthy discussion to try to convince him, show him, how he is wrong and ignorant and more.

I don’t bother. I don’t believe it will benefit me in any way and frankly, I don’t care.  His views are a reflection of him and not of me. 

This is tangentially related to my approach with my mother when she is offensive. I don’t believe I can change her views (meaning get her to understand how her words effect me) so why should I bother? I have no skin in the game at present. Sure, we can cite that my relationship with her is limited in its depth but if I am okay with that, why bother continually telling her how she is offensive? What would that accomplish besides causing constant friction between us?  I wince from her comments and ignorance (regardless of how it came about) consider the source and move on.

The husbands’ behavior – and my mothers – may be inexcusable as PB suggests. I suppose I am just dealing with it and accepting it as it is, not trying to excuse it.

I move on and fight bigger battles. 

 

28 Thoughts.

  1. I totally admire your self-control in this situation. Regardless of my beliefs of others’ sexual preferences, those words are offensive to me! I am conservative, Christian (although I dislike the word religious, in my case), I, also, exhibit love. His conversation lacked love for the homosexual. I venture to say that if you had said that God loves everyone, regardless of their sexual preference, he would have hit the roof. I have said it many times: God loves the gay, straight, married, divorced, male, female, priest, and pornographer. It’s their behaviors (sins) that He does not love. Bravo to taking the higher ground. I’m not sure I could have.

  2. You can apply this to so many things. I strive for a “pick your battles” life. Why stress myself out when nothing is going to change *except* my stress? I hope my husband will one day learn this, he has a hard time letting things slide. But gosh it’s hard to sit while someone goes on like that, eh?

    • Its not hard anymore – least not with this guy. When I first met him and was hoping for more of a friendship, I debated, questioned, engaged. As I learned more about him, I realized we were too far apart to really be friends and now I dont bother engaging.

  3. Key point you hit on there Aimee, I’ve learned over time as well on when to let things slide and when not to, as Suz says, it’s all about choosing one’s battles & what to engage in and what to let go.
    I also like the wife better, knew her before the hubby, worked with her professionally, etc..he has MANY rough edges and FWIW for the umpteenth time had uncomplimentary things to say concerning my ‘tribal tattoo’…I chose the ‘smile & say nothing’ approach by way of response.

  4. Good for you! A guy like that is a waste of your time–a waste of a nice patio and grilled food too, I’d say.
    I’m much more offended anyway byt the “love the sinner hate the sin” people. It’s the same hate disguised by prettier words–as long as you don’t listen too closely.

    • Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and I believe that’s me, too. I have to love everyone. Frankly, I believe that it’s what we’ve been called to do as human beings. I don’t have to like everyone or like what they do, hence “love the sinner (person), hate the sin”.

  5. hmmmm….
    I don’t think I would let that go on my patio. Maybe because my patio is close enough that I’m sure others could hear and I realize it’s one thing for me to put up with that kind of BS. But another for my children or neighbors to hear it coming from my patio.
    Yuck.

    • Fortunately (or unfortunately) my kids were not home and we are set so far back off the road and from our neighbors, no one would have heard. : /

  6. What he said was grossly disgusting. Way over the top to bring details about dildos into a public conversation!
    Perhaps it would have been better to tell him that, and then walk away.No need to mention your daughter, just tell him that kind of speech is not acceptable in your home. Why would you want to keep any kind of relationship with such an obnoxious person?

    I don’t get the “love everybody” or “love the sinner hate the sin” idea either. I don’t love everybody and do not try to, I think that demeans the concept of love to an abstraction. What I try to do is to understand and as much as possible respect others and their views, IF they act in a way that deserves respect.

    The only sin one needs to hate is one’s own, and we all have some. I do not personally feel that same sex love is a sin at all. Whatever happened to “judge not, that ye be not judged”?

    • Inclined to agree with you Maryanne. Wonder if I should note this gent has his Phd in Theology.

  7. It is funny you raise this example. I was thinking about your previous post last night and I kept thinking – suppose it isn’t adoption but something else. Let’s say you are gay and your Mom thinks that’s just a silly choice you have made and says things that you find hurtful. Do you speak up? If she cannot let you be who you really are, what do you do?

    I guess you are right, it all depends on what it costs you to engage versus what it costs you to say nothing.

    I have on occasion been in a room when someone has made derrogative (Sp?) comments about one aspect of my background. I usually speak up and say you are talking about my people. They usually think I’m kidding.

    “Pick the hill you are prepared to die on.” An older lady said that to me when I was in my twenties and even then I realized it was very good advice.

  8. It’s only worth a fight if it changes anything otherwise not.Sounds as if it might be more pleasant to go for coffee with the wife and avoid the dinners!

  9. Ph.D. in theology or not, the man is a pig, and he was talking like one to you in your home. He did not just say he was against same sex marriage, but got into graphic details to you when your husband and his wife had left the room. That is extra-creepy and disgusting. It sounds like he has watched way too much porn!

    There was no need for a battle, but a simple statement to drop the topic was in order, and I would agree with the person who said to avoid those dinner parties with him in the future. People like that take silence for interest or agreement when they start spouting hate.

    • I am in complete agreement with the creep factor here. This dude sounds like a bit of a perv.

      • LMAO. This is cracking me up that I apparently gave this impression based on his comments on homosexuals cuz it could not be farther from the truth. He is the ultraconservative, uber religous, white male loud type. Inappropriate maybe, but not a perv. Though I am chuckling at the idea that I presented him as such. He is a bit over the top in all he does.

  10. The man is an ignorant pig, but I agree with you totally. Nothing you say to him will get him to see it differently.

    Von’s statement that it’s only worth a fight if it changes anything, otherwise not.

    I’ve actually come to have this attitude with my mother. I’m not evolved enough to say it doesn’t still hurt when she makes insensitive comments about my loss, but she’ll never change. My serenity in life is more important to me than getting her to admit she’s wrong. For one thing – she never admits she’s wrong about anything.

    Excellent example Suz.

    • it doesn’t still hurt when she makes insensitive comments about my loss,

      Did I say it didnt hurt? If I did, I mispoke. I wont say “hurt” per se but it does sting and I do roll my eyes and sigh. But again, I don think it will or can change after all these years (25+) so I just deal with it. I accept the limitations of the relationship as I have learned to get those needs met elsewhere.

  11. Suz :LMAO. He is the ultraconservative, uber religous, white male loud type. Inappropriate maybe, but not a perv.

    In my expericene, they are often the most egregious of pervs 🙂

  12. Agreeing with Maybe, just think how many famous ultra conservative preachers, politicians, and celebrities have been caught with their pants down in various compromising positions with members of either sex. Often the ones who denounce the most are doing the deed on the sly:-) The guy is a perv, for sure!

  13. While I agree about picking battles and not expending time and energy on someone who means little or nothing to you, I would have corrected his choice of words, i.e. not let him use fag, dyke, etc. in my presence. The second time I visited with my son (15 years ago), I stopped him from using the N-word. It offends me. If he wanted to discuss race, I would do that (just like you let the husband do that with you). But not using derogatory words.

    I’m curious about his fascination with sex toys… sounds a little perverted to me!

  14. “I’m curious about his fascination with sex toys… sounds a little perverted to me!”

    Many straight men are fascinated by lesbians. This is a way for him to induge his fantasies without having to approve their content. Clever trick of religious nutters.

    I hope maybe you’ll consider cutting him off next time. It’s your home, after all.

  15. Wow Suz, you sure did exercise considerable verbal strength. The fact that you’re friends with his wife put you in a very difficult situation in your own home. I don’t know how I would have handled it. I do know that in the future Gaimy time would be reservered for the wife only. I wonder how her husband behaves around her?? He sounds pervy.

    Gail

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