Parents fighting to me is like eggs and syrup—the two just go together. My parents fought a lot when I was kid. They’d argue and bicker here and there and sometimes they’d argue and bicker all night long. It’s what they did. I never considered that their arguments could lead to a divorce, and neither did my sisters.
Casey and I have been married for more than a decade and we’ve had our share of fights. Rarely are those fights filled with shouts and screams and they never involve any kind of physical confrontation. Mostly our fights involve Casey flabbergasted with something that has happened while I sit quietly pretending that she does not exist. Eventually her frustration forces her to do something that she knows will embarrass me, which then causes me to speak and when I speak it is in very serious lecture-y tones.
Our arguments, on the other hand, are completely different.
Casey and I have arguments involving some of the stupidest things. We fought once about whether Flo-Rida meant a person and a band, or if it was just a person. Seems pretty stupid? It was pretty stupid and we both knew it was pretty stupid, but here’s the thing: when we argue, we both use voices that would make most people think we’re in a heated argument.
When we argue, Casey can sometimes use her shouty voice as she tries to get her point across. When I argue, I like to pull out my louder than normal voice as I ask cross-examination question after cross-examination question, and I’m not afraid to openly dismiss irrelevant points Casey may make to support her argument.
Addie has probably heard hundreds of these arguments and she’s usually pretty quick to ask us to stop fighting. We always explain to her that we aren’t fighting, but she doesn’t usually believe us.
A few nights ago Casey and I were having an adult argument that went on for about 30 minutes. We had the argument in our kitchen as Vivi ran around with a package of wipes pretending to change her bear’s poopy diaper. Addie was upstairs supposedly cleaning her room. The argument was about a serious topic and it definitely would have sounded heated to those who hadn’t met us before, but neither of us was actually mad at the other. We wanted to get our points across, but we could have dropped the argument at any moment and moved on to something else without a second thought.
We were towards the end of the argument when one of Addie’s friends knocked on the door to see if Addie could play. I called upstairs to Addie to tell her to go play with her friends. She popped her head out from around the corner at the top of the stairs and I noticed she had tears running down her face. I asked her what was wrong and she burst into sobs as she said, “You guys are going to get divorced.”
The kid had hid in her quiet place (a corner behind a chair in our loft where Addie says she can go when she feels scared) as she listened to us argue. Apparently, Addie uses her quiet place whenever she’s scared of divorce, which means this must be a bigger problem than we realized. But all I could do when Addie sobbed about divorce was laugh and try to explain to her that we weren’t even fighting, and that we weren’t mad at each other. Casey quickly got up and we gave each other a hug just to prove the point, but for the next 20 minutes Addie sat on Casey’s lap in full on chocking and gasping sobs.
This kid—she’s a sensitive soul.
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