As I’ve said repeatedly, The Mister and I are passionate people. Despite what other people think, that thing we do where we raise our voices and cut our eyes is not fighting. That’s merely how we communicate. We say what we mean and we mean what we say and we’ll just give you a good what for!
When we actually fight, it’s ugly.
Apparently, when we fight, all of our children think we’ll instantaneously divorce. That makes us laugh, but then also, kinda sad for them.
The Mister says to them, “You shouldn’t worry until we’ve given up fighting for it,” but I don’t know how they could possibly understand that. I barely understand it myself.
It’s been 16 years and we’ve had 14 horrendous fights. (Yes, of course I counted, I am a woman.)
Looking back, the early years were rough. In the beginning, frequent adjustments to pride and expectation had to be made. All that’s settled now, but the circumstances never stop changing. To me, that’s what all that marriage crap — sickness and health, richer or poorer — was about. Yes, we’ve definitely had some sickness and poorer, but it’s the unexpected turns of life, the changes, that muck it up over and over again. That’s why it’s so hard. You gotta adapt to all the changes in your own life while adapting to all of theirs as well. Sometimes, you have to do way, way more than ‘your share.’
And sickness includes the evolution of their crazy.
I can remember when my husband could still sit with his back to the door and he remembers when I loved to drive. We adapted.
The adaptation is never-ending.
I bet you couldn’t guess, but when we fight, I am the crazy one. Even on those rare occasions when I’m the logical party, I’m still the lunatic. He maintains a quiet seething rage and I do all the lashing out. Then while I wind down and weep silently, he does his. As it turns out, people like me and people like him have completely different reactions to the exact same events. Can you imagine?
“When we fight, I feel like the world is coming unglued and I am falling apart.”
“When we fight, I want to tear the world apart.”
We have to find the actual problem.
It’s my experience that the actual problem is never what anyone fights about. The fight itself is the superficial evidence of the underlying pain. Most of our fights aren’t the fault of one of us, but both of us, for failing to heed a particular principle. It can all be summed up like basic communication classes teach us.
“When you don’t…I feel…”
“When you…I feel…”
It sounds like “YOU’RE TRYING TO KILL ME WITH WRONG PILLOWS!” or “THE LEAST YOU COULD DO IS PACK ME A LUNCH!” but really, it’s about how someone doesn’t feel acknowledged, respected, trusted, prioritized, valued, understood…
And underneath those desires lie all kinds of nasty things we don’t want to deal with. You know, the stuff. A good fight sorts out the stuff. Resolution doesn’t come without sorting out the stuff. To fight well, you must recognize the stuff and agree that the stuff matters.
We find ourselves closer and better informed after a fight. We don’t fight to win, we fight to get through.
In the denouement, we cleave to one another.
My marriage is many things, including an incredible paradox of frustration and joy that if I put it into words, would sound like this:
“I hate you! You make me crazy! I wish you would go jump off a cliff!
But don’t leave me. I couldn’t bear life without you, I love you so much.”
I know, it’s terribly romantic, how we have marital problems just like everyone else. That’s the tragic magic of marriage for ya, people define their own.