Marriage: What I’ve learned about fightingPosted: February 10, 2011
There is nothing worse than that knot in the pit of your stomach when you know something is off in your relationship. Something has happened but isn’t resolved yet, and it totally screws with everything else going on in your life.
Fighting before you’re married is scary.
When you’re dating/engaged, even if you feel fully committed, there is still an easy escape route. Yes, married people can choose to get divorced, but that requires a lot more paperwork and money than simply breaking up. The ease with which one person can call it quits is a scary enough reality that you might not feel safe saying what you need to say.
The threat of leaving represents major bargaining power.
The end of most fights while you’re dating is that one person is the clear winner, and the other person apologizes/grovels to get back in his/her (normally ‘her’) good graces.
When you resolve a fight before you’re married there is also a passionate rush of emotion because you’ve just crossed a bridge and decided to stay together. It’s all super dramatic.
Enjoy making up. This part will not be as passionate once you’re married.
Fighting when you’re married is safe, but annoying.
First, I think it’s obvious that, “I’m staying either way, but I’d still really like to get my way…” does not carry the same weight as threatening to leave. It does, however, help create a less volatile environment.
Once you’re married, assuming it’s a healthy dynamic and you both fully intend to stick it out for better OR worse, a fight is just a fight. The fate of your relationship doesn’t hinge on the outcome of one argument. It’s safe to speak your mind, and it’s easier to focus on the matter at hand when that is really all that’s being determined.
The annoying part is that, once you’re married, it’s unrealistic to expect arguments to end with one clear winner.
See, if it is decided that you are 100% right, the other person either, 1) gave in because you were being ridiculously one-sided and pompous or, 2) is left feeling really low. In either situation, being right doesn’t sound nearly as great as you thought it would.
Because (all my English teachers just cringed because I started this sentence with “because”) you intend to stay together, your best case scenario needs to involve both parties feeling at peace with the resolve. What c-word is more disconcerting than commitment? Compromise.
To make matters worse, I think it’s sexy how smart my husband is with the exception of when we’re arguing. Each time he makes a really good point, it grates on my nerves.
Trust me when I say that this really puts a damper on the passionate making up part. The joining of two people who have each just had to compromise does not come with a full set of fireworks.
Although, fireworks or not, I always feel like an argument with my husband is productive because we’re working toward the common, big goal of staying together and doing it better everyday. For me, that is hot.