The Old Git and I are blessed to have the most zen-like, tranquil, cordial, non-confrontational relationship ever. That’s a lie. OBVIOUSLY. We’ve been married for nearly thirteen years, and anyone who smugly tells you they never fight is lying or delusional. Marital fights are the norm. They are an integral part of the marriage experience. In fact, some might say they enhance marriage by providing a healthy outlet for emotional expression! Obviously it depends on how your fight. Effing and blinding uncontrollably…not so healthy. But arguing in a constructive, albeit irritated, way does not spell the end of a relationship.
So, what are the things that couples argue over? Money, family, children, intimacy, time and chores seem to be the primary issues that experts talk about. It got me thinking about my most heated and recurring spats with the Old Git and I’ve narrowed it down to the following three:
- In the car. This a given for us. Be it on a family day out, date night, en route to a wedding or a mundane trip to the supermarket, we will always have a bust up in the car. It will be over something trivial, normally when one of us is being a back-seat driver, but it inevitably ends in a stroppy exchange and then some passive aggressive silent treatment. Standard.
- Household chores. Thirteen years on, and the Old Git still resists putting the bins out. I don’t know why, as it has consistently been part of his job description. But we still fight about it and he has a particular aversion to putting the food bin out. The best fight we ever had in public was over the bins, when we were newlyweds, standing in the driveway in front of the neighbours. It was magical. Bin rage is real.
- Disciplining the children. In every family there’s the good cop/bad cop dynamic. In our household, the Old Git is the bee’s knees who gets a standing ovation every time he walks in through the front door. The kids love him. But of course they do as he plays with them wholeheartedly and rarely tells them off. That would be part of my job description. I’m the taskmaster in their eyes, the meanie who makes them do homework, tidy their rooms, eat vegetables and go to bed on time. That inevitably means the Old Git and I clash. I anticipate this to continue until the kids turn eighteen.
Of course we argue over lots of other things but these are our most frequent bust up scenarios. Whilst (non-abusive) arguing might be fine in a marriage, I’d say persistent nagging can annihilate it. Constant nit-picking and criticism can drain the life out of a relationship and just makes the other person feel resentful, defensive and inadequate. We all nag some of the time, but let’s face it, too much nagging is a killjoy.
None of us dream of spending our days arguing with our other halves, but it’s a human reality, shows that we are imperfect and that we have to work at our relationships. In fact, it can be beneficial as it releases tension, increases understanding by the sharing of emotions and helps to develop patience. You could say it’s character building! Ultimately, any emotional expression (of the non-abusive and non-nagging kind) that helps couples build understanding and work towards a resolution, has to be positive. Remember that, next time your partner seriously ticks you off. It’s all part of the bonding process.