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My Two Cents Argument, a Spice of Love

Chamnongsri Rutnin Hanchanlash

Once upon a time when good Thai children bowed their sweet heads and held their tongues in face of phu yai’s commands, some venerable phu yais would glance at me out of the tails of their eyes, shook their heads and sighed, “Oh, how that child argues!”, no doubt thinking that the child would some day come to a bad end.

I like to think that my penchant for argument has mellowed with time like fine wine, thus the bad end awaiting me might turn out not to be all that bad. At least, Fate has so far been accommodating enough to set me up with a husband named Jingjai who is endowed with no lesser natural love for argument!

Please take note that a lively series of rational debates can be stimulating and long-running enough for a romance to ripen into life partnership. Hollywood has, in fact, proven it a success formula for romantic comedies from Doris Day through Meg Ryan and Julia Roberts.

Argument, in my vocabulary, lies more or less at equi-distance between discussion and quarrel. It has the play and piquance that the former lacks without the resentment and animosity of the latter. Slim lines separate the three.

I can vouch that, as years pass, good arguments seasoned with wit and humor can help keep a couple in step with each other intellectually and emotionally. They act as a whetting stone for thoughts, idea-development self-improvement and an excellent inexpensive choice of home entertainment. It is also the spice and curry to the basic staples of married life. The range subjects can be incredibly wide. Ours vary from the domestic question of which mixed breed of mongrels would be the most congenial to the fauna and flora our Chiangmai garden, to the socio-economic question of the pros and cons of FTA where Mekong Sub-region is concerned, to the philosophic realm of Descartes maxim: Je pense, je doute, donc je suis (I think, I doubt, therefore I am) ...versus the Buddhist insight, in the words of a contemporary teacher,: : There is thinking; there is doubting; but these are not who I am (Jayasaro Bhikkhu).

It must be said here and now, however, that though a healthy sport in a healthy life-partnership, arguments when overly indulged can bring on cramps, aches and deterioration of the marital joints. Like in all good things, moderation is the word!

In the exhilaration of a sparkling argument, it often takes the finesse of a skilled fencer to avoid stepping on the highly explosive tail of the dragon - the territory of the ‘I’ and ‘mine’, and the ‘you’ and ‘yours’ – which can, in the wink of an eye, turn the lively argument into a deadly dogfight. Novices are advised to keep a healthy focus on the issue at hand while keeping their own ego from protruding into the line of debate - after all ego is just an ego, a non-substantial thing that have tricked people into hurts, pains, greed, anger, conflicts, war and all kinds of problems from time immemorial.

Experienced arguers develop an expertise in toning arguments to suit moods and occasions, making them, for an instance, heated but fun, intense but gentle, light-hearted on the surface but weighty in connotation, and so on. They liberally cushion the arena with the indispensable sense of humor and what I like to call ‘generosity of heart’ which accompanies that beautiful thing called love.

Now that I am waxing unduly romantic, this article should do well to conclude with a reference to sweet Will Shakespeare’s jeweled phrase: “the marriage of true minds”. It is the kind of a ‘marriage’* in which spousal arguments can peak quality-wise because it has peace, compliance and quiet companionship as the backdrop in the same token as the backdrop of silence enhances music, and a clear clean space around a picture is, in itself, beauty.


* The Committee for Family Development and Welfare of the National Council for Social Welfare of Thailand under the Royal Patronage, has recently conceived the term Krobkrua Thammachat (The Natural Family) which is defined as: Two or more people of any sex, any status, who have chosen to share their lives with love and care, and are able to suitably manifest their love and care within the boundary of the law and morality… whether or not they have gone through the registration or formalities of a marriage ceremony, whether or not sexual relationship is involved.


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