MensHealth and I don’t fight very often. I would say we average one actual fight a year. We have had little disagreement here and there, but mostly it’s been smooth sailing. This is not me bragging; this is me stating a fact that worried me about us. Who doesn’t fight? I’m not saying we should be putting hands on each other or yelling at each other all the time, but how do you know if the two of you can fight fair if you never fight about anything?
When I say fight fair, I’m not talking about when two fighters get in a ring and the referee says, “I want a clean fight. No hair pulling, no spitting, no hitting below the belt”; I’m talking about how to have a disagreement without blaming, nagging, threatening, or punishing. I’m talking about being able to communicate–you know, talking AND listening. Are we even hearing the same thing? Are we going to each run and tell our mothers and others in an effort to rally troops to our side or are we going to stay here and work this out?
Weeks ago, MensHealth and I had one of those “this might not work” fights where you don’t stay there and fight, one of those fights where someone would pack their raggedy duffle bag and leave* if we were cohabitating. By the time we were both mad enough to not see straight, I had an almost sparkling apartment (cleaning is my answer to anger, grief, and a cluttered mind), he left and I left. Where was I going? To Wal-Mart to pick up some more cleaning supplies.
We spent most of the day cooling off and doing what we each individually do when we fight, or at least what I gleaned that we do when we fight from that day: He went to a local park and walked, had ice cream, called his mom*, and calmed down enough to think. I cleaned, roamed Wal-Mart, bought a couple $5 blu-rays from Best Buy, came home and sat in the middle of my freshly vacuumed carpeting watching movies while the dishwasher hummed in the background. What I didn’t do was talk to anyone about the fight.
Dear Reader, it almost killed me not to pick up that phone. I really wanted to pick up that phone. I wanted to tell someone my side of the story. I wanted someone to tell me I was right and he was wrong. I wanted someone to say they were coming over with ice cream and Waiting to Exhale. I wanted someone to give me some advice about what I should do. I wanted to talk to someone about something else to get my mind off the fact that MensHealth had left without a word to me. But I knew better than to pick up that phone.
The thing about doing all of the interviews with married women that I’ve done, attending every marriage and family workshop, and completing 2 different pre-marital counseling courses is that that I now have all of these voices in my head with solid advice. People who have been there and done that, counselors, and my Bible were all telling me to keep my lips shut. I had heard people saying how important it was to communicate with your mate, who is the only one that can fix the problem anyway. I’ve heard people say how this friend or that person’s mom has caused division in their relationship. I have been counseled that those people you invite in when you have a disagreement don’t get over it in the same time frame as you do, especially when you only run to them with the bad and never tell them the good. On top of all of this, who hasn’t said some crazy things that they’ve regretting when they’ve been emotional?
In the midst of my movie watching, MensHealth came back over and we talked through some things. Well, actually, that’s a lie. MensHealth came over and asked me if I had gotten anything to eat. We talked about the argument the next day, after things had simmered down and we could talk about it from a place other than Anger City.
I am glad I didn’t pick up that phone and give my mother something to dislike about MensHealth, or give my bestie room to breathe her “all men are dogs” doctrine into my heart and mind. The fight can actually be over. I count this as growth. INEBIGTDIA growth, but most growth is like that, isn’t it?
How have you all been relationship-wise?
*”He just packed his raggedy duffle bag and left” is from an episode of Living Single. Get familiar.
*I don’t know what MensHealth and his mother talked about during their conversation. I only know they talked because they told me.