Daiva Markelis demonstrates why a little arguing can be good for a couple in the long run.
I don’t trust couples who never argue, who always smile and nod and look very interested in what the other is saying. These couples are doomed. They will smile and nod and look very interested and then one morning one spouse will get up and go to the store for milk and never return.
My husband and I argue all the time. Big disagreements occur when he allots twenty minutes for a fifty-mile car trip, as if we’re traveling by Japanese Bullet Train. Marty is an optimist. Traffic lights will remain perpetually green, the sun will shine brightly though the forecast calls for rain, caring drivers will pull to the side, sensing that the royal couple in the black RAV needs to step it up to get to Buckingham Palace.
At some point during the ride Marty will realize the extent of his misjudgment and speed up considerably. This will cause another quarrel.
The irony is that Marty once taught driver’s education. The philosophy he conveyed to his high school students was pedagogically questionable: “You can get away with anything if there are no cops present and you don’t hurt anybody.”
“So, basically, you told them it’s okay to break the law,” I said.
“Only if they were sure there were no policemen near by.”
Sometimes we argue about the space-time continuum. This comes up most often in the context of watching baseball. I prefer live games — either at the ballpark or at home on our sixty-inch television. Marty likes to record games so that he can zip through commercials and, more importantly, watch certain exciting or controversial plays over and over and over again. Thus, what we see has already occurred. This doesn’t prevent my husband from cheering wildly, booing loudly, or sending good vibes via brainwaves whenever a White Sox player is up at bat.
“How can the brainwaves work if the event has already happened?” I ask.
“Anything is possible in the space-time continuum,” says my husband.
Marty also believes there are individuals who are “designated watchers” in baseball. The designated watchers might not even be aware of their status as designated watchers. Nevertheless, it is their psychic energy that can cause batters to hit homers, pitchers to strike out the side, and teams to win close games.
“Who designates the designated watchers?” I ask.
“It’s a mystery,” replies Marty the Agnostic.
Sometimes the arguments have to do with unmet desires. I want a dog; Marty doesn’t.
He can’t get past the fact that dogs sometimes eat their shit. In his mind, all dogs are always eating their own (or another dog’s) shit. They eat and then they shit and then they eat their shit. They might play catch for a while or snuggle up to you by the fireplace, but soon they are back to eating their shit.
“A dog can protect our house from intruders,” I argued once.
Marty went out and bought me a stuffed animal—a large life-like Rottweiler he promptly named RoboDog.
“We can perch RoboDog here on top of the couch looking out the front window. When would-be burglars walk down the street they’ll see its face and make a mental note not to rob our house.”
“They won’t be suspicious that it never barks?” I asked.
“It can be one of those non-barking Rottweilers.”
“And the fact that RoboDog never moves its head or changes facial expression—won’t that be suspect?”
“Hmm. I didn’t think about that. You might have to move him around a little every other day.”
We don’t fight about money.
We have enough money, in part because we don’t have children.
We don’t argue about children.
We argue about dreams. Marty rarely dreams. I dream all the time. I sometimes dream that my husband is with another woman, someone younger and thinner and more docile and respectful. I wake up angry and worried. I nudge my husband from his peaceful sleep.
“What is it?” he asks.
“I dreamt you were cheating on me,” I say.
“I can’t help what you dream,” he says, annoyed.
I tell him my theory: one person’s state of mind while sleeping—his thoughts and desires—can permeate another’s dreams.
“You’re crazy,” he says. But he always adds “I love you,” which makes forgiving him for my dream very easy.
We used to argue a lot more, about commitment, acceptable levels of household cleanliness, and Scrabble. Marty once accused me of cheating at Scrabble. This caused a huge fight. In revenge, I hid his small but valuable collection of 1960’s troll dolls.
We’ve gotten better over the years. We’ve learned not to bring up hot-button issues when one of us is tired, sick, or stressed. We give each other a lot of space.
We’ve been married for almost ten years, though we’ve been a couple for much longer.
“Twenty years this August,” I tell my husband.
“Eighteen,” he answers.
“No, I think it’s twenty.”
“Eighteen. Definitely eighteen.”
Image Credit: Yasin Hassan – ياسين حسن/Flickr