Battle of the Sexes
How very fitting that my husband and I start fighting when I start writing about our “beautiful” marriage. This tends to be the case, arguments never choose the most convenient time to pop up. Has anyone ever noticed that disagreements only occur when you’re on your way out the door to a friends house, a friends wedding, your anniversary dinner, or even on date night?
We won’t go into the details, as privacy is truly our biggest motto – but to put it simply – we have disagreed again. Perfectly normal, but perfectly annoying in my opinion. You see – we tend to argue about the same damn things… And while I don’t mind the disagreements, the elevated tensions, or even the cold shoulders – its the continued unresolved conflict that itches my nerves. Why do we always have to come full-circle back to this issue I could have sworn we found a solution 3 months ago?
Which brings me to my first topic of discussion – how long are disagreements/arguments really supposed to last? Let’s first of all differentiate between a disagreement and an argument. In my opinion, disagreements are abound in most relationships – after all we are two very different people, raised in two unique environments, developing individual opinions and beliefs. Thus to say that you never disagree would be quite the profound statement. Whereas, arguing is the process of hashing out these disagreements – finding that common ground where eventually both persons can equalize their values and settle these differences.
So what are the different styles of arguing- are there set rules to how one should do so? Now I’ve always heard that there are etiquettes put in place – you know the fairly common knowledge ones – such as no calling names, no physical/verbal abuse, and of course being as sober as possible when approaching the problem. These of course are ideal settings – but when are arguments every really ideal anyways?
In our first year, my husband and I had TOO MANY intense arguments – most definitely attributed to the fact that we did not live together before we were married. There were just so many things to adjust to that were never exposed before cohabitating… Mind you, through all these arguments we were at least able to determine our communication patterns, common grounds in values, buttons not to push, and triggers to avoid. But mostly out of these, we learned to take our time…
So many times, we’ve heard the proverb – never go to sleep angry. Now I understand the concept behind this but we have truly never been able to adhere to such a practise. Our arguments tend to be very deep rooted – as we are able to shake off the small stuff to shift our focus on what’s truly “argument worthy“. So to think that we could come to a mutal conclusion in only one evening truly baffles my mind.
From our experience, I’ve learned that our arguments tend to last for days, sometimes weeks – I don’t think we’ve ever reached close to a month. We’ve definitely revisited disagreements as new prevalent factors arise – just as we are right now. Now, let me clarify what I mean by arguing for days and revisiting the same problems. Yesterday (Day 1), it began with the age old – “What’s wrong?” followed up with “I’d rather not, we’ll just end up arguing over it…” And of course, no one would settle with such as statement as we’d rather get the bug out of it’s den. As the subject du jour was a repeat visit, emotions ran wild and defenses went up. I understand as this is not a new topic – it’s obviously touchy as it is a common problem in our daily marriage. Unfortunately, our solutions have to be revamped, evolving with new techniques and understanding AGAIN.
Now that we are on Day 2, we haven’t said a word. I guess you could say we are ignoring one another – doing the “cold shoulder” stance. But this position actually serves a greater purpose. Now that we’ve been able to retrospect our techniques when battling our differences, we are able to slow down. This is quite the benefit to finding a proper solution. You see if we continue today our emotions are still raw, we don’t like each other right now. Why bother arguing when all we’re thinking is how much we hate that the other person just doesn’t understand? Leave it be – at least, let it rest.
So, we take a day apart normally to run everything that has been screamed said to each other in Day 1. Now (Day 2) we try to identify what we are trying to get out of this problem – what needs to change? My rule – say it in 3 statements or less. That being because, normally by the third statement, the other person interjects with their own opinion. So we’ll narrow our requests (as there is always a need to be fulfilled) right down – eliminate all opinions. And this request normally must be fulfilled otherwise the problem will only bury itself until it decides to pop its ugly head up again. This need should of course involve your partner and a feasible solution. I find with my husband, I leave the solutions fairly vague so that he can fill in the blanks with his own personallized approach. Men tend to appreciate being the decision-maker, the solution-finder and enjoy knowing they can fix your problem. We as women must clearly identify and present this problem to them. The hardest part is agreeing to the problem haha. This is the apex we must climb over – and must remember that it does not include pointing the finger.
How then can we identify, present and negotiate the roots of a problem without saying “it’s your fault“? Easy – admit the problem only exists because there are two of you. Thus, if there is a problem – that normally means that both of you have contributed (or should I say haven’t) in one way or another to fester this problem. Both of you can identify the need that is not being met by both of us, and now you can present this in a few clear statements to one another – and here is when you truly need to listen. And by listening, I mean REALLY listening – letting the other person finish their statements, repeating back what you interpret they are saying (paraphrase) to confirm you understand their request correctly (as sometimes the telling is where communication failed) and stopping to think about it. As a women, the last part is the hardest for me. I’m very quick witted and can come up with a retort faster than my husband can think. This I have learned is unfair – my husand is a theorist, a deep-thinking creature who needs to swallow a thought, digest it and slowly come up with an answer. So in turn I must be patient for his response to give him adequate time to formulate his thoughts correctly.
So to recap – identify the need, present clear and direct statements, listen, digest and then formulate your solution. Remember, you and your partner chose to become each others confidante, helper and most of all team mate – thus you are obligated to help in the process of a problem due to your very own existences together. If you don’t find solutions to your problems (as there should be atleast 2), rinse and repeat. Take your time – try to do this over a week if you have to. Hopefully not too much of your lives will be shifted in the process…
Day 2 – I’m still trying to come up with a new statement ironically. It’s getting harder to revamp a clear statement when I only came up with a similar one 3 months ago. And I’m not creative – I would prefer to just record it and play it over his ear while he’s sleeping to be honest. Very tired of this but I love him enough to keep trying. It’s been over 24 hours since we last spoke, but the space and isolation reminds me of our choice to live together forever. Wish me luck – hopefully in Day 3 we will make progress. Until then – give me your thoughts… what are your techniques to reoccuring arguments?