Fighting can be healthy; I’d much rather get into an argument with Mike than fail to acknowledge that one of us is hurt or frustrated. As our priest-slash-friend-slash-teacher always told us, “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” Working out our differences can lead to raising our voices and feeling frustrated – but it’s much better than burying our feelings or pretending everything is fine. Admittedly, we’re both rather sensitive, so I think we tend to get hurt and into disagreements as a consequence. I wouldn’t have it any other way, though – because I love Mike. I know quite a few couples who claim to never get into arguments- and to them I say, “Pshaw!”
No, really, if it works for you – that’s amazing. I’m jealous. Seriously – I’d much rather get along with Mike 100% of the time.
We don’t always fight pretty – sometimes I say silly things like, “You’re a jerk!” because apparently I’m quite juvenile. And sometimes I stomp off because I’m just so mad. Sometimes we’re funny fighters and we end up tickling each other or laughing at how petty we are being. There are many fights due to one of us overreacting. It can so very frustrating to try and express myself and feel misunderstood. Sometimes I feel as though we’re speaking different languages – we’re both saying the same thing but can’t seem to understand each other.
I share all of this not because we had a really big fight recently - yesterday was great, actually. (Although we did get into an argument on Friday because I didn’t want to sneak a brownie into a movie: “Seriously, where am I supposed to hide a gooey German chocolate brownie? Let’s just cram it in our mouths! Fine, we won’t see the movie, then.” (I told you we have silly fights.))
I share this because I think we can romanticize other people’s relationships. I can’t tell you how many people have told me that Mike and I are a “perfect couple.” I sort of want to laugh and tell them a story about one of our fights. Perfection is overrated. My mother once told me about when she and my father were young and married – they fought often and my mom remembers saying in the heat of an argument, “I bet Sue and George* never fight!”. Only to find out later that Sue and George were saying the very same thing about them.
When we imagine that others never argue, we conclude there must be something wrong with us. Instead of seeing fighting as a part of sharing my life with another person, but as an inherent flaw in our compatibility, I start to doubt us. I think we do a disservice to other couples when we pretend everything is perfect.
Let’s stop pretending we don’t fight, get frustrated, or cry. I’m admitting that my relationship isn’t perfect and we fight – do you?
* “Sue” and “George” are totally not their names - it’s my mom’s cousin and her husband.