Confessions About Fighting

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I’m sure every marriage is different in their fighting style. Sometimes I hear girlfriend’s talk about fights they have had with their husbands, and I think, “Holy cow, that can’t be healthy!” But I know that when they hear stories about some of mine and Chris’s fights, they probably think the same thing. We all fight differently, and for different reasons. But here are a few confessions about fights in my marriage:

1. Sometimes we go to bed angry. Actually, we USUALLY go to bed angry if we’ve had a fight close to bedtime. I’ve never really bought into the whole “never go to bed angry” thing. Chris and I are just the kind of people that need some time to process before we can forgive and move ahead. I’d rather go to bed angry one night, but wake up knowing my apology (or Chris’s) is sincere and well-thought out. So, sometimes we sleep on it after we’ve hashed it out. On rare occasions (maybe once or twice a year?), we sleep on it for a couple days before either of us feel ready to let it go and make up.

2. We never sleep in separate beds. Ever. It’s an unspoken rule in our marriage. We might be pissed to the high heavens, but we will both sleep in our bed. I can remember ONE TIME in our marriage when Chris slept on the couch, and another time when I dragged my pillow to the guest room (but I came back less than an hour later). We seem to both understand that when we fight, we are literally making our bed, and we are fully expected to lie in it and deal with it. No running away.

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3. Sometimes we pick fights when we are bored. Embarrassing? Yes. Immature? Absolutely. But, it’s the truth. When things are going kind of slow and life is just plugging along kind of boring-like, we start nitpicking with each other. I’d like to say it’s our way of spicing things up, but it’s more just a way to fill the time. Not that we are aware of that during the actual fight. During the fight, we are both mad and 100% committed to proving the other wrong. But looking back, most of our stupid arguments and fights are because we were just looking for something to do.

4. We fight more when we aren’t having enough sex. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

5. Both Chris and I have this terrible habit of getting mad at the other person when they get mad at us. It drives me nuts when Chris does it to me (which then makes our fight even bigger because now I’m pissed that he’s pissed), but I know I do it to him, too. One of us will have a legit concern or issue, and the other will act like we are accusing them of selling their soul to the devil. It is ridiculous. We are ridiculous.

6. On average, I’d say we have one good, solid argument a month and maybe two big fights a year. I think the difference between an argument and a fight is the issue’s impact on the marriage. So, maybe we argue one month about one of us not pulling our weight around the house. To me, that’s an argument because it isn’t a huge issue, but it is something we disagree on and needs to be addressed. But a fight would be something much more important to our marriage. A recurring fight we have almost every single year is the work/family balance for one or both of us. One of us might be spending too much time at work or prioritizing work above our home life for a while, and that will always become a much more important fight because it has a more significant impact on our marriage and family. We probably have one or two of those doozeys a year.

7. Sometimes we don’t apologize after an argument. Sad, but true. Usually, that only happens when we both know the argument was dumb and we were both wrong. And that’s usually because we argued because we were bored (see #3). Sometimes we fight it all out, get it all off our chest, and neither of us are sorry for doing that. Now, if we were mean to each other, that’s a different story and we will definitely apologize. But we are hardly ever outright mean during our fights. Usually, we stick to the issue and because of that, there sometimes is nothing to apologize for. I think one way; Chris thinks another. We agree to disagree, and that’s the end. When that happens, though, we always kiss and tell each other we love each other after the argument. After we’ve had time to let go of the anger, to think about what the other person said, and to calm ourselves down, one or both of us will quietly go to the other and we’ll kiss, then tell each other we love each other. Quite honestly, I like that better than an apology on some occasions. It just seems more real. Yes, we fought. No, I’m not sorry I think this. But, no matter what, I still love you and our life together.

8. We argue in front of our kids. Go ahead and judge, but it’s the truth. We will have arguments in front of our kids. Again, we are never mean to each other. But we will raise our voices a bit (not yelling, though) and sometimes that happens to be in front of our kids. We are definitely aware that they are there, and so it is always a modified argument. That hasn’t happened often, but it has happened before. Fighting, though, we keep behind closed doors.

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9. Chris and I think fighting is healthy. For us, it’s a way to purge things that are festering in our marriage. It’s a way to clear the air and wipe the slate clean. It also opens our eyes to issues that our partner is having. In the heat of an argument, I may not agree or even really hear what Chris is telling me. But after the fight is over, usually, I learn a lot about the state of our marriage and the concerns of my husband. And I may not have gotten to hear him speak so candidly had we not had a fight.

10. On average, our arguments last about 5 minutes and our fights last about 15 minutes. We hardly ever fight longer than that, no matter how big the argument is. Sure, there have been occasions over the years where it has been much bigger, but even our really big fights these days are short and to the point. I think they are short because Chris and I fight clean with each other. We very, very seldom make it personal, and we try to avoid statements like, “You ALWAYS…” or “You NEVER…” Speaking in absolutes is a slippery slope and can take a small little issue and make it much more significant than it needs to be. I think we’ve both learned that over the years, and so we leave those kinds of statements and accusations our of our tiffs, which means we fight for shorter periods of time because we are only talking about the issue on the table.

When I lump all of this together, it sounds like Chris and I fight all the time. We really don’t. Especially now. We definitely fought more at the beginning of our marriage, and I think that’s normal (?). We were trying to find our balance and our routine in our new married life, and that comes with more bumps. After eight years of marriage, though, we have worked through most of those “housekeeping” arguments and fights. Now, we very seldom really fight it out (see #6).

No matter how often it happens, we all fight differently. And I think that’s probably good. But don’t leave me hanging here with my marital dysfunction blowing around the internet all by my lonesome. What are some characteristics of disagreements with your spouse?

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