Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ranting, Venting, and Progress

When my husband gets on a rant about politics, I get very frustrated. First, while we have a lot in common, we belong to different political parties (something he finds difficult to accept). Second, I don't see the point in covering this ground with me (his only audience). I don't plan on changing my mind about these issues, I've heard the rants before, and he knows it makes me angry. It seems pointless.

Then again, I understand the need to vent frustration. I'm just not sure where the line is drawn between venting frustration and ranting for no reason. It is hard to tell the difference.

The question is--does either venting or ranting lead to any real progress? Does it do anyone any good?

I'm not sure it does. He argues that he shouldn't have to censor himself, that it is unfair of me to ask him to stop doing this. I argue that it is unfair to me to have to listen to these all the time when it doesn't do any good to anyone. The only purpose is to allow him to vent--but I'm not sure venting actually helps. In fact, it seems to build rage rather than release it. This is especially true since if the rant goes on long enough, I will probably say something which will make it worse. It is hard not to when subjected to this diatribe.

There have been studies about happiness that says that writing about or talking about negative feelings only reinforces the unhappiness--rather than releasing it or making someone feel better. I often wonder if this is true in the case of frustration and anger over politics.

This is a nasty cycle that comes up which we haven't yet learned to escape. He is hurt that I want him to change something which he feels is a major part of him. I feel that he doesn't respect my feelings if he can't stop bringing it up, almost like he hopes that I'll change my mind. Worse, even on issues we agree about, he'll rant about the topic when he hears news relating to it. I already agree; I don't need to hear all the reasons why it is a good idea and should be put in place by the politicians.

I don't like conflict, at all. I commonly burst into tears over any raising of voices or disagreements. This has been a truth in my life since childhood. Naturally, this means that these politic harangues are some of the low points in my life.

I don't think these rants help anyone. If he wants to make progress, he'd need to take action--to write someone who can actually cause change or join a campaign or write a political blog. All they do is make me unhappy and, if the study I read was true, increase his unhappiness. That sounds like a lose/lose situation to me.

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