When We Fight

He hammers the mirror into the door. It's been weeks since I first asked him to do so, but right now is when he decides it should be done. He has found his perfect opportunity to avoid the silence that permeates our second act, in between "fight" and "forgiveness:"

Act One: We fight
Act Two: We avoid
Act Three: We forgive

When we fight, he insists on handy work that involves screwdrivers and hammers, nailing in shelves and oiling doors so that they don't squeak. Bang, bang, bang until the nails are flush with the wall and the mirror hangs perfectly straight.

When we fight he doesn't answer his phone so it rings and rings and mine does too, vibrating until it moves clear across the desk and falls with a crack on the floor.

When we fight I walk with hard steps: Click, click, click even though I'm wearing flat shoes. I hold Fable in my arms like a shield as Hal asks Archer if he'd like to play Connect Four again for the twenty-seventh time.

When we fight we try to out-parent each other. Diapers are changed the second they feel wet. Meals are topped with garnishes, anything to make our children smile, laugh, climb our limbs like trees and "again, Mommy! Again!"

I'm the favorite.
No, I am!
When we fight, love songs make me cringe so I change the music - something with no words, por favor. A piano sonata?

When we fight I take the dogs for a walk. Ask Hal if he wants to come with me and when he says, "Sure. Let me put my shoes on," roll my eyes because I'd rather walk alone.

When we fight I walk behind him so that I can stick my tongue out at the back of his head and he can look upon a view unobstructed. When we fight he tries not to lose his temper over little things and I try not to lose my temper over him losing his tempter and he clutches the handle of the stroller a little tighter as I peek through the windows of immaculate homes and wonder what I would be doing if I lived there.
What if for the remainder of the afternoon, I could switch places with a woman not in a fight with her husband? Someone delicate and beautiful who could afford to hire a dozen men to nail in her mirrors for her. Someone who could snap her fingers and like magic, have it all.

And then I host a brief conversation with myself in my head that goes like this:

"Don't be an asshole."
"But my husband doesn't GET me!"
"Ah. but the problem is that he gets you too much!"
"Don't be an asshole!"
When we're in a fight I look at our cars, parallel parked on the street, one behind the other and feel suddenly gobsmacked by the fact that they aren't speaking. Their engines click but other than that, no sound.

When we're in a fight we yawn and cough in unison, say the same things at the same time (jinks!) and pretend not to notice. Because no boxer wants to get in the ring with her opponent clad in identical satin shorts.

GGC Presents: Woolf vs. Isaacson (in matching boxers) Live at the WTF Grand!

When we fight I reorganize Fable's drawers at lightning speed and when that's finished I get on my hands and knees to scrub the spots out of the wood floors and then I plan tomorrow's outfit, hang it on the inside of my closet above the shoes.

When we fight I always cook because if I cook that means he will eat what I have made him and that makes me feel like I've mastered him in some way. Over dinner we speak to our children but not to each other. We take turns making Fable laugh, filling Archer's glass with water, passing things just to pass them until our laps are weighted down with napkins.

When we fight I insist on doing the dishes even though he stands over my shoulder and says, "Stop. Let me do them!" and I say, "No! It's fine. I'm doing them already can't you see!"

"But you don't have to."

"I know."

"So leave them."

"No!"

When we fight he waits for me to finish the dishes and then re-washes them one by one and I become furious because I did a fine job washing those dishes thank you very much and if it wasn't such a waste of water I would likely wash them again...

... and it would go on and on like this until our fingers were pruned and the dishes were all in pieces...

When we fight we always wait for the children to fall asleep before we make-up.

I ask him is he's mad at me and then he launches into his insanely brilliant monologue and I roll my eyes and he raises his voice and I cry and we talk for an hour or two or sometimes all night until I am laughing and he has lost his voice.

Because when we fight? He becomes some kind of demented motivational speaker and suddenly I can't remember what either of us were ever angry about. Instead I just want to cheer and clap and go out and do something amazing like change the world or someone's mind...

... never mind all that. Let's just cuddle.

Meanwhile, the dishes are done (several times over) and the house is clean and every drawer has been reorganized. The door no longer squeaks and the mirror has been successfully mounted on the wall and the night is still young enough to make up for an afternoon without eye-contact.


So after we fight, we do just that.

Wink.
Wink.

Fin.

GGC

70 comments:

Ali, Ryan and Rayna | 12:37 AM

so, who STARTS the fight? lol! Mine picks them because he knows I clean when angry...he plays dirty.

And parenting always becomes a competition! So glad to know we aren't the only ones who do that song and dance!

eskimojo | 12:40 AM

Love it!

It's so true, some of the most beautiful moments where you feel most close to each other are after a fight.

Sarah | 1:57 AM

I could identify with so much of this! Thanks for writing it.

Tammy | 3:32 AM

sounds a lot like our fights. lovely narration.

Neena | 3:52 AM

Brilliant! That picture is painted to perfection.

Heather Maxwell-Hall | 3:53 AM

you, lovely lady, are an amazing writer

LucyCooper | 4:08 AM

Ugh- good post. Mister and I are celebrating 10 years next month. When we did our premarital counseling, we took some sort of Myers-Briggs type test to determine our strengths and weaknesses. We got, like, an 80% compatibility rating in money management, 100% (no lie) in sex and leisure, and, ahem, a 10% in conflict management. Yes, an F minus minus minus. I am proud to say that ten years later we still suck but we suck a lot less. I'd give us at least a D+ now.

OneRadMother | 5:20 AM

This may have also described the last week of my life. The Daddy Love-Hate Paradox.

Damn if he knows me too well.

Thank God for the wink. wink.

Anonymous | 5:51 AM

Fights are so similar in my house. You put it into words much better than I could have but we act out the same play here in Quebec!

Sarah | 5:53 AM

When we fight, I wonder why he doesn't care enough to fight back, what he's thinking while I completely lose it...

Karen | 6:09 AM

Sounds familiar. Only I don't clean, I either go to bed (depending upon the time of day) or leave the house. But there is a TON of not looking at one another and walking in wide berths so as not to get too close.

Law Mommy | 6:35 AM

Sounds like my house...but I play dirty. We only have our 5 month old and I can top the hubby any day on parenty because I have boobs. :)

robyn | 6:38 AM

This is written so brilliantly. So true to life. We don't have kids or dogs, but our fight behavior feels similar to this. So glad you shared.

Courtney | 6:40 AM

I am glad to see i amnot the only one! Although fights with my hubby are far a few between because he is too laid back (and it makes me even more angry when he wont fight with me), it is always the after that makes the whole fight worth having.

Marie-Ève | 7:13 AM

Thanks again Rebecca for saying this, for letting me know that we're normal and not alone.

Lauren | 7:26 AM

I wish our fights led to cleaning and reorganization... ours tend to result in video game playing and shopping trips.

This post was on-point.

krista | 7:47 AM

this was our house yesterday afternoon. i got so much done and the whole time i was watching myself from a distance, intrigued by how much silence echoes when it is tied up with intention and sometimes i wonder if this happens so that i can let my mind wander to a place where i feel like being alone is an okay place to be and that i could really make it all by myself so that i never actually start to take "us" for granted.
does that make any sense?
because, by the end of the day, we're good and we talk and we remember why we're even here, together, in the first place.

Bex | 7:49 AM

beautiful post. i love when happily married people share the not so pretty moments. its very real. and everyone goes through it.

when WE fight, the conversation in my head ends up that we fight bc we are so perfectly matched. i don't know. it helps me stop crying ;-)

Anonymous | 7:53 AM

You're so lucky he talks to you. I get the stone silent treatment that goes on for up to a month.

That silence kills love so quickly, over time, you just stay for the children.

Pretty soon you don't care what you fought about, b/c you just don't care. Literally.

vicky @ thecitycradle | 8:14 AM

What productive arguments you have, I am impressed! When we fight, we usually resign ourselves to the things that are easiest. Blogging, TV watching, magazine reading. Never do we get much done. Somedays, when there is a lot to do I try really hard not to fight or else nothing will ever get done around here.

Anonymous | 8:33 AM

This is exactly what I needed to hear today. Thank you; it was lovely.

Meghan Elaine | 8:37 AM

Your words are perfect. Seriously, you are SO articulate and clever. I love reading your blog...thanks for sharing.

Ashley, The Accidental Olympian | 8:47 AM

Isn't is wonderful how we each have these 'fight' dances we do? Roles each person plays, steps we each must take before the complicated dance is over and we can finally be ok.

Beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Renee | 8:59 AM

When we fight... we don't say "bless you" when the other one sneezes... Why is it so hard to say that when you are mad at someone?

Shannon | 9:03 AM

I would much more worried about those June and Ward Cleavers inside thier fancy homes. Seriously - those are the ones who go down in a homocidal blaze of glory. You have a clean house, happy (and beautiful) children, and a clear sense of why you so dearly love your husband. Beautiful stuff, love is.

Chica | 10:11 AM

And that's why I love your blog. Because you don't pretend everything is perfect. And those who DO have the "perfect relationship with no fights" are the couples we should worry about.

BookishPenguin | 10:22 AM

You can bring beauty to anything - and thanks for keeping it real.

Heather | 12:18 PM

I love this post. I love that things that seem so personal are really so universal.

(Although all hell would break loose if Brian rewashed my dishes...)

Fear and Parenting in Las Vegas | 12:25 PM

Awesome post. It almost makes me miss my ex-husband. Almost, mind you.

Torrie | 1:40 PM

I love how honest this is.

Baby in Broad | 1:45 PM

Yes. Yes and yes and yes. The no talking to each other until finally, all you do is talk? That's how it is.

sarah | 1:55 PM

Amen.

Desiree Fawn | 2:11 PM

Ah good good good.
We all need a strategy.

christina | 5:52 PM

This is so good.

ec | 7:38 PM

i freakin' love this post ...

Anonymous | 9:37 PM

while all of this is well and good an honest and interesting and what not, I find it really weird that a girl like you needs a man to hang up a mirror for her??

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 10:11 PM

FUCK YEAH I need a man to install my mirror. I'm a disaster with a screwdriver and brackets and I'm not afraid to admit it. (I tried to install a shelf for Fable and broke the entire thing INCLUDING the wall. This is why I have yet to show "after" pics of the kids room.)

I can change a tire though so I'm not completely useless.

Margie | 10:19 PM

Off topic sorry. But I just saw a momversation episode with you in it. Birthday parties, you are one stunning woman Rebecca.
Love your blog to.

Anonymous | 3:58 AM

Hi Rebecca! I love your blog-makes the working day so much more managable! Just wondering what's happened to straight from the bottle? Your picture's still there, but no words. Don't know if this is just me being an idiot or if there's a geniune problem with it.

Oh, and this particular post was amazing. Spot on!
from Lucy (Manchester)

Anonymous | 6:10 AM

When we fight, we sometimes stop to laugh at something stupid, then get right back to it.

When we fight I wonder how I'm ever going to not feel angry. Then half an hour later we're fine.

Lauren | 6:22 AM

This post so perfectly articulated how a disagreement goes down in our house as well!

Your writing is honest, articulate and endlessly funny - thank you!

Heather | 7:32 AM

You captured a very familiar tension very beautifully.

b.a. | 10:04 AM

i relate to this perfectly. and i HATE cleaning. i don't know why i choose a fight to get all the cleaning done. maybe i do it to punish myself for being such an a-hole.

paperfairies | 11:07 AM

Man you guys fight nice. You actually made that sound weirdly enjoyable.

Lynn | 11:09 AM

hear hear! Lades, you rock my world with these real-life moments and articulate them as I've never seen before. adore it and then some!

Now that is a healthy "fight", my boyf is a home fixer too when we get into it (or should I say distract ourselves from it ; )

The last time this happened he actually got out his carjack and used it to stretch (who knew this was even possible?!)a wider opening in one of our walls so he could fit in this armoire. It took hours but he did it and I think the accomplishment fed his male bravado so much that he actually approached me 1st for make up time. It was awesome & unbelievable. I surely will never doubt his abilities again.

it also reminds me of this quote, which I love:
"I met an old lady once, almost a hundred years old, and she told me, 'There are only two questions that human beings have ever fought over, all through history. How much do you love me, and Who's in charge?'"
~Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

big ups & love to you,
Lynn

Geordy and Pete | 3:24 PM

i am the annoying one who does huge loud sighs constantly to remind him I am still cross.

hes so happy go lucky he doesn't seem to hear them.

which pisses me off even more cos i wish i was the happy go lucky one.

Cate | 7:03 PM

brilliant and lovely. that's all i've got, other than thank you for writing this.

Sarah | 7:46 PM

I love this post. It is perfect.

Caroline | 9:25 PM

Thank you so much for your honesty and this post! I was just thinking earlier today that so many people in "blogland" seem to be in a "perfect" relationship sans any conflict. I think conflict is actually good as I feel that my husband and I emerge from each fight stronger, that working through our fights reinforces our commitment to each other.

Amanda | 11:56 PM

Somehow, probably your writing, you made a fight seem romantic!

Bex | 8:03 AM

I came back to read this again! And then I commented AGAIN.

I just read all of these comments. You remember when you considered writing a book called "The Almost Divorce"? I think you should do it. Look at all these women who relate to you and everyone seems to agree that the way you write resounds with them (us).

Strong encouragement to get writing that book....

I'll even BUY it (really, that's big, I always wait for the library to get it).

Ava | 10:29 AM

Are you in the process of writing another book? Because you should be.

Your words are so tangible.

MomE | 10:45 AM

yep. i'm feelin' it, too. i hate it when we can't/won't look at each other. but i love it when the night is young enough to make up for it. nail on head, sister! xoxo

Sarah @ BecomingSarah.com | 5:09 PM

So do we... wink wink.

lichen | 7:44 AM

Kudos for honesty in your writing, even when it's all sparkle and shine. A hard (but helpful) thing to do. Thanks!

AS Novus aka Mamacita Caliente | 9:51 AM

I love this post! Though I don't think the dishes get done when we fight the rest of it is right on track. Beautifully written.

Sarcastica | 3:13 PM

Amazing post. I totally feel ya on the super cleaning/reorganizing while fighting bit. That's me to a T!

@sunnywalk | 4:27 PM

loved the story...

i definitely relate to the "trying to out parent each other," my husband goes into super-dad mode and it drives me crazy!

Becky F | 9:00 PM

I just wanted to say that I just watched the birthday party momversation, and you look gorgeous with your bangs pulled back! I love you bangs too, but you look just as pretty without.

Kara | 9:35 PM

Hmm, my husband must have read your post and went back in his time machine...he knows your power trick and never eats my food when we're fighting. Once it took me a day or so to realize that he was mad. We're a little passive-aggressive.

The Girl | 11:56 PM

Well, what kind of mature bullshit... *grumble* Our fight dance isn't near so nice as yours. It's more like a BOOT dance that I want to do straight up The Boy's ass. You guys are all adult and stuff.

Hey, just a question: Did you find that you fought more or less when pregnant, and did the way you fought change? Because with the hormones, man, I'm feeling a little argumentive these days. And by 'a little' I mean 'maybe I'll bring a knife to my boot dance.'

Heather | 7:28 AM

I'm an obsessive cleaner/organizer when I'm fighting w/ my husband too. Which is funny b/c otherwise- I don't clean the house or anything for that matter. I'm just so full of emotions it helps to be in control and make something clean and shiny...for once. :)

mpotter | 8:26 AM

aaaah i'd love to get to this point.
because when we fight- we fight.
until we just aren't fighting anymore. then we stew a little.
until we stop stewing.
then we walk on eggshells hoping to not fight about the fight again.

anyway-
your post was fantastic.
the insights you have are great!

thanks for your honest portrayal and peek into your life.

sarah | 5:06 PM

i think this is your best post yet. so true and good, i was totally thinking about it during my day after reading it. thank you!

Becca | 9:10 PM

Dude, I love this. Especially as there is no real resolution; there rarely is. Just the decision to move forward once again... and other movements of course.

Jennifer | 9:14 PM

Yep. That's pretty much how we fight. My house always ends up clean and he's always overly helpful with kids, almost ridiculously so.

Glenda | 10:50 AM

I read your book and loved it! I love, love this post. I always read and never post but had to today! Keep writing! You're awesome! Love, love the pics of your kids! Here's my fav quote: "A long marriage is two people trying to dance a duet and two solos at the same time" ~Anne Taylor Fleming~

Mrs. Cline | 8:27 PM

I love this too much.

And, ditto. Yes. Amen. To every part of it.

Loukia | 12:17 PM

This was brilliant. I loved this post. I think everyone should read this! You rock, Rebecca, AS USUAL.

Sharnanigans | 2:48 AM

Wow. I am hooked. What an honest account - love it and laughed.
Love the bit about him becoming a demented motivational speaker.. I kind've take that role after a fight. You write beautifully and honestly. Can't wait to read more