Warning: This post contains many varied swear words.
My husband and I have fought about some pretty inane things over the last eight years of marriage. Our dalliances in the world of verbal sparring have increased since having children with the added dimension of ‘silent treatment’ and the phrase which hitherto I’d only used as the strongest censure as a teacher to a student: “I can’t even look at you right now *turns away in disgust*.” (FYI works surprisingly well on teenagers.) Our fights used to last for days which an older friend remarked upon as being “cute” because she and her husband had gotten to the point in their 20 year marriage where they were “too apathetic to fight about those little things.”
On Sunday for example, we had a fight about a hose. I wanted to wash the car, he wanted to water the garden. There is only one hose. Maybe it was the long weekend of camping, maybe it was just an afternoon sugar slump, but he stomped off and I was left seething, wondering what the fuck we were doing fighting about a hose.
When we decided to take the year off to travel with the kids in 2014, part of my reservations were about how we would get on. At best we could describe our living space for that year as ‘petitely open planned’ and I’ll give you the tip: swishing the curtain across your bed to prove a point isn’t nearly as satisfying as slamming a door. But as the months rolled on and we motored across this sunburnt country, we developed a skill that a therapist would have taken years to drill into us: How To Fight Better.
You see, turns out I’m spatially challenged and Fiela, as a man, is challenged in most intelligences (sorry- can’t help myself. Love you Fiela!!). So over the 120+ times when I had to direct him to back the car up to our camper trailer, eight times out of ten, words of an ill-gotten nature were flung about if we got it wrong on the first go, much to the amusement of the rest of the camp ground.
Conversations such as:
Fiela: I fail to see what’s so difficult about directing me back to this towbar? Are you fucking stupid??
Me: Sorry? Are you fricking deaf? You’re the dickhead who seems to think I can correct your ridiculous imbecilic driving in the last metre before the ball hits the tow thingy!
Fiela: Christ it’d be easier to do it myself. Can’t you just apologise for guiding me in wrong?
Me: I’ll apologise just as soon as you apologise for driving too fast and calling me stupid. Dickhead.”
Yes, adulting comes hard to us from time to time especially during Sheep Station situations such as these (there’s a definition of what Sheep Stations are all about at the end of this amusing post).
Over the course of the year these fights didn’t become less frequent or explosive. If anything the swearing and gesticulating got worse. The difference was this: previously, a fight like that would have been three days of sulky door slamming, sleeping on the extreme far left/right of the bed and barely civil exchanges over who wants what for breakfast. Now, we can yell and stamp our feet and tantrum about the perceived idiocy of the other person, and by the time we’ve walked from the back of the car, gotten in and clicked in our seatbelts, this happens:
Me: What do you want to do for lunch today?
Fiela: Whatever you’ve organised is fine 🙂
Me: Sorry love, I didn’t feel like making sandwiches. It’ll have to be a pie or a burger on the road today.
Fiela: Well, what do you feel like, Honey?
Me: I don’t mind, you choose *winks and smiles*.
Two minutes prior we were ripping each other’s head off. Now there’s syrup dripping out of our mouths.
Travelling together for that year did what no amount of counselling or self-help books could: it forced us to work through our stupid fight shit. There was quite literally nowhere to hide in that car or camper and we had to work together to get our house on wheels set up and our children fed each night. Those moments of frustration and irritation were given their rightful place at the bottom of Things We Need To Expend Our Energy On and we moved passed them.
I finished washing the car on Sunday, put the stupid hose away and walked inside. We hugged and talked about the veggie garden, how clean my car looked and what was for dinner. Baked beans for the kids and takeaway curry and a movie on the couch for us. The fight was over in the time it took for me to do a half-arsed job of the car; love and the yin yang had been restored and it only took hooking a trailer up to a car 120 times to do it.
How do you resolve the small shitty fights with your significant other?
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