Tuesday, November 30, 2010

After the fight

I don't know if everyone always behaves the same way when they fight? Like, you have your pattern that you always fall into?

I don't think there's any reason to go into the Big Fight we had in the car on the way home.

Suffice it to say that we spent the end of the drive not speaking to each other. While Jordan wailed in the background - as he'd been doing for the prior hour or so.

If you're looking for an agitating soundtrack for an argument, find a screaming child.

But with this fight I realized the following: We anger quickly and have similar styles, which means our fights tend to be short and extremely caustic. And we both need time to calm down afterward before we can apologize. Once that's done, it's over. No grudges.

But in the meantime, we get mean and it is terrible.

When we've made each other so angry we don't want to speak to each other - which is pretty much what always happens - we retreat to familiar patterns.

Nick stomps around for a while, goes out and buys beer if we don't have any, and then watches TV.

While I'm stewing, I think he watches all the shows I think are incredibly stupid just to annoy me. Although really I think he watches them because, well, he likes them.

This further irritates me in the moment.

I'll sit and read, mentally dividing up our belongings, selling the house, and oh, God, does this mean I'll have to get back on Match? And does Nick know how hard I will make all of it for him? Because he's mistaken if he thinks this will be smooth and easy.

You know me. I get pretty far pretty fast.

And then some time passes - sometimes a whole night, and once a night and the following day - and maybe we're still irritated but not furious, and finally we can see where each other is coming from and discuss it calmly. At the end of the day we do love each other, and in this particular case, I'm sorry I took my frustrations out on him and he's sorry he got so angry.

I still think his taste in TV is idiotic, though.


  1. My daughter gets married on Friday. Can I just read this as the toast and tell her that this is how it really is? The fighting and the love, seems like you can not really have a decent marriage without them both. And holidays? double whammies. I am just now after 20 years figuring out that come morning it will all be ok. S l o w.

  2. i know i retain the same fighting patterns i have for most of my life, it's how my whole family fights and it's much like the two of you - snap, get it ALL out, then let ration and reason sink in and move on. i think it's very important to understand how someone you love fights - i think you two have got it down : )

  3. I don't think anyone has worst taste in tv than Mike. American Pickers? Pumpkin Chunkin'? FUTURAMA?

    In the middle of one of our nastier fights, I actually thought about deleting his entire DVR queue after he fell asleep.

  4. Tim (my husband) once watched a documentary on the building of the Mackinac Bridge....bolt by bolt...It was in parts over a year (week) or so. Total insanity (me), lol. But yes, it is real life. One thing I've learned over our 20 years together is, that even though an argument can get mean, it's important to keep it clean -as in no really bad name calling, ect. Then you can laugh at it down the road. Can't take those ugly names back though.

  5. The worst fight S and I ever got into was in the car, with the petite bebe in the backseat. There is something about the closeness in the car that makes fights get ugly fast. I resolved: never again discuss tense issues in the car.

  6. Flights of anger fueled fancy are helpful - ventaputic, even (ya like the invented word there? yeah, that's an RR original.) However, I find them to be most helpful when paired with the notion (however deeply buried in one's mind it may be) that this will not be the last fight, anger will eventually fade, and all things will still be standing in their wake.

  7. The husband and I definitely have a pattern. It usually starts when he's in a crappy mood and I'm in one of those weeks where I just CAN'T. LET IT. GO. Unfortunately, he's the one in our relationship that moves quickly to the dividing the possessions thoughts. I find it kind of destabilizing to hear him say such things. But we've made it through the fights to the calm on the other side for seven years so far.

  8. you and i are similar in the stewing. in the mental tabs of things. manfriend and i definitely have our patterns, and whooboy, it's not always pretty. i like what RR said, at the end of the day, you know that this fight is just ONE fight, and the anger will eventually fade. but in the heat of the moment? i always think it's the worst thing in the world.

  9. Lisa,
    i love this post. especially because i know my husband and i are dirty fighters. I am trying to be a better one (i swear)!. Anyway - I am glad that you remain feisty in the heat of the moment. To some extent I feel that I have lost that and acquiesce too quickly.

    seriously. fuck that.

    and when he is buying some beers? make sure he brings you back some decent wine for god's sake.

  10. I think at the end of the day, if you are able to know the other person's fighting style ... you're a match made in heaven. :) Might sound dumb, but when you know someone right down to the gritty parts of how they blow their stack ... it gives you an insight into the idea that yeah, you can make it through.

    The Asian-Hick and I rarely fight. Because for the most part, he's passively aggressive. He won't fight until he REALLY has to, and then the insults come out for which he immediately then apologizes for -- make me feel like I should woman-up and do likewise.

    We really are sick, he and I. I hate fights. I get the dreads from fights the way you do about the holidays.

    As for the others who posted, and I really can't help myself -- It's Punkin' Chunkin'. I know this because LBM thinks when mommy says that little phrase it is the funniest thing on the face. :) Plus, Grandpa REALLY likes it.

  11. Ugh. Been there. Our M.O. is I want to talk. Hubby doesn't. We fight and he unilaterally announces that the fight is OVER and we aren't talking about it any more. This pisses me off beyond all measure because nothing got resolved and damn it, it's not over!!! I then do the mental division of stuff for a while. He stomps around being an ass. A few hours later, we're OK.

    The worst part? If Jess sees/hears us, SHE starts crying and yelling at both of us to stop. It's heartbreaking. Luckily, we try our best to not fight in front of her.

  12. Lynn - Of course you can! But I know you will come up with something so charming and sweet and loving. I hope her wedding is wonderful!

    jen - You know, I don't remember seeing my parents fight growing up, so I wouldn't be able to say this is how my family fights. I never used to fight. Which is so much LESS constructive.

    Jennie - Yikes. You win, for sure. Although Nick will pause on Futurama until I tell him to keep it moving. And I never thought of that! He's lucky for your self-restraint. :)

    Kate - Wow. Bolt by bolt of a bridge. That takes some keen interest in building! And I do think it's true that there are things you just can't say, no matter how angry you are, because they'll do irreparable damage.

    Cynthia - I'm sure you're right that close quarters make it all more intense. That's probably a good policy, as Nick then drives really aggressively and scares the shit out of me.

    RR - This is very astute. In the moment, I have the impulse to go to extremes. There have been a couple times where I really wondered if that fight was IT, but for the most part, I do know somewhere that we'll resolve things. Marriage has been - and continues to be - a HUGE learning experience for me.

    Kennie Beanie - Ugh, those are so hard. Because the other person is already in a bad mood and not well equipped to deal. I don't tell him in the moment that I'm dividing up our furniture. It's not till it's all good again. Although now he knows I do it, but he also knows that's just how I am. Which it sounds like you know about your husband as well. Seven years!!!

    brookem - Yes, I like what RR said as well. Like you, I always think it's the worst thing in the world. Nick takes a longer view of things. But this is how we approach every single thing in the entire world, actually. I am very here and now now now! and he is more like 5-year plan.

    Kiran - Big hugs to you. I can be so ridiculously unconstructive (is that a word?), and sometimes it would be better for me to back down gently. But in the angry moment I just barrel forward.

    As for the decent wine, I'll ask for some. :) We're taking it easy post-Thanksgiving.

    Moue - Passive-aggressive is so very hard for me. I tend to be very direct, and I don't know how to deal when people aren't. I think you are right about understanding the style. And it's great that he apologizes immediately.

    cla517 - That would make me crazy. I know I would ratchet it up at that point because who is going to tell me it's over when I'm not done?

    I just read an article about how it's OK for kids to see their parents fight, but what's really important is for them to see that it's resolved. Which I suppose makes sense.

  13. we fight in a similar fashion to you and Nick - quick, furious, and mean.
    The good thing is that it's over quickly. The bad thing is that sometimes we are downright cruel to each other at the height of our fights.
    Growing up, I didn't see my family fight much. My mom is a champion at holding in her true feelings and seething silently for extended periods of time. I'm not saying my way of fighting is better than her way but I'm also not convinced that her way has any more value than mine.

  14. My mum wouldnt speak to my dad for days, weeks even sometimes. I hate the 'no speaks' as I call them and my sisters are champions at it. The oldest one especially good at it she hasnt spoken to me for over 2 years now. I resolved very early on in life to not play this game and always say my piece although sometimes I do go quiet it's not that I am not speaking its that sometimes I am looking for the right way to say something without being too mean but still getting my point across. I prefer my fights to be over and done with quickly and the wounds healed fast rather than getting no speak for days on end. My son and I have extremely explosive short sharp mena fights but within hours we are talking normally again.

  15. Oh, the first stage sounds SO like me and Nathan. Both fiery tempers.

    But in the end I usually end up crying out of frustration and then go down the road of "we used to be so in love, and this never happened, why is this happening, will I never be happy, and now I'm pregnant and wahhhhhh my life sucks" sometimes in my head and sometimes out loud, until usually he cools down and comes to hug me.

  16. Hey Lisa, I went to a wedding where they read this passage from Everything is Illuminated. Totally reminded me of this post. :)

    The young couple first married on August 5, 1744, when Joseph was eight and Sarah six, and first ended their marriage six days later when Joseph refused to believe, to Sarah's frustration, that the stars were silver nails in the sky, pinning up the black nightscape. They remarried four days later, when Joseph left a note under the door of Sarah's parents' house: I have considered everything you told me, and I do believe that the stars are silver nails.

    They ended their marriage again a year later, when Joseph was nine and Sarah seven, over a quarrel about the nature of the bottom of the river bed. A week later, they were remarried, including this time in their vows that they should love each other until death, regardless of the existence of the riverbed, the temperature of the river bed's bottom (should it exist), and the possible existence of starfish on the possibly existing riverbed.

    They ended their marriage one hundred and twenty times throughout their lives and each time remarried with a longer list of vows. They were sixty and fifty-eight at their last marriage, only three weeks before Sarah died of heart failure and Joseph drowned himself in the bath. Their marriage contract still hangs over the door of the house they on-and-off shared-nailed to the top post and brushing against the welcome mat:

    "It is with everlasting devotion that we, Joseph and Sarah L, reunite in the indestructible union of matrimony, promising love until death, with the understanding that the stars are silver nails in the sky, regardless of the existence of the bottom of the river, the temperature of this bottom (should it exist) and the possible existence of starfish on the possibly existing riverbed, overlooking what may or may not have been accidental grape juice spills, agreeing to forget that Joseph played sticks and balls with his friends when he promised he would help Sarah thread the needle for the quilt she was sewing, and that Sarah was supposed to give the quilt to Joseph, not his buddy, ignoring the simple fact that Joseph snores like a pig, and that Sarah is no great treat to sleep with either, letting slide certain tendencies of both parties to look too long at members of the opposite sex, not making a fuss over why Joseph is such a slob, leaving his clothes wherever he feels like taking them off, expecting Sarah to pick them up, clean them, and put them in their proper place as he should have, or why Sarah has to be such a pain about the smallest things, such as which way the toilet paper unrolls, or when dinner is five minutes later than she was planning, because, let's face it, it's Joseph who's putting that paper on the roll and dinner on the table, disregarding whether the beet is a better vegetable than the cabbage, putting aside the problems of being fat-headed and chronically unreasonable, trying to erase the memory of a long since expired rose bush that a certain someone was supposed to remember to water when his wife was visiting family, accepting the compromise of the way we have been, the way we are, and the way we will likely be. May we live together in unwavering love and good health. Amen."


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