My husband and I are both conflict avoiders. But, we’ve been married for 16 years, and so we just kind of say stuff. You know, stuff. Like when we have an opinion or when we disagree. We say it.
I hated his mustache; I told him so. In front of guests. And I blogged about it.
He disagreed with me on a political issue and made that clear. At dinner with friends.
We rarely have big, blow-out arguments, though of course they do happen. What are the three main things couples tend to fight about? Sex, money, and kids? Well, we have all three of those, so yeah, we fight.
Those fights are in private, and they’re actually fights.
But the stuff that goes on in public? We never thought of it as fighting. That is, until several people commented that they heard from others that we fight a lot. Apparently the news was spreading around.
I wondered what people expected from a couple married for 16 years. Did they think I would agree with everything he said? Or that he would adore every decision I made? Did they think one of us should shut our mouths?
I’ve always thought of our banter as just that, banter. And also sharpening. Not like knives sharpening in order to stab someone better, but sharpening, like character refinement and helping the other to make better decisions and presenting opposing viewpoints so that we can grow together.
I didn’t see us as a couple who fought a lot in public, so I wondered if I was a nitpicking wife and if people interpreted that as fighting.
We all know the couple that has public conversations like:
Husband: “Well it was 6:30 on Friday night when … ”
Husband: “6:34 on Friday night when the … ”
And on and on. Husband can’t say anything without being corrected by wife, even when the exact detail is totally irrelevant.
I didn’t want to be that kind of fighting couple, the nagging, nitpicking kind. So I checked in with friends and they confirmed, I don’t do that.
So what kinds of fights did we have in public?
I guess they were the kinds in which I said, “I think mustaches are creepy, and I won’t kiss you until you shave it.” Or in which he said, “You should be more precise and less emotional when discussing such-and-such political topic.” And of course, sometimes I’m the one with the more serious complaint (ala politics), and he has a more frivolous one (ala hair). And I’m okay with that.
We’ve been married more than a decade and a half, and I’m not worried about our marriage. I would be worried if one of us felt absorbed or swallowed up by the other. I like that we have our differences of opinion and fashion taste and preferences. I like that we listen to different news stations and are inspired by different situations. I like that we are confident enough in our own selves that we can be transparent.
And I love that we are both so assured about the other’s love and commitment, that we can disagree.
So, if having an opinion and stating it out loud in public means my husband and I fight a lot, then so be it. It also means we have a strong marriage, and I’ll take that over feigning compliance any day.