I got this idea to document and analyze the arguments my husband and I have occasionally. I’m aware of how deeper issues could be toxic to marriages, especially newer marriages like ours. It was more incentive for me to go into this alone. My husband actually didn’t know I was taking down data and analyzing our arguments. If he read this tomorrow in his inbox then it would be new to him as to anyone! We get into a match probably once or twice a month and that’s been pretty consistent. That’s another reason why I wanted to analyze it. All couples fight once in a while and I’ve got 6 months’ worth of recorded data to prove our marriage is pretty norms.
How Do You Define Marriage Conflict?
My definition of a marital dispute is the shut down of communication between both parties. For example, when one of us gets so frustrated we have to leave the room. It must be a stalemate lasting over an hour after a disagreement. That’s my definition because that’s how we usually brawl out things.
The natural progression of our usual arguments goes like this:
4. Walk Away
5. Cool Off
6. Rebuild Communication
There’s are no pots and pans flying in our case. We have sourpuss faces for a while, go for a walk, or until one of us gives in and tries for a welcoming resolution instead.
Why a Marriage Audit is Important
When we first got married, the fighting was worst in the first 6 months than it is now. We were both leveling out the rough edges of living together. Looking back now, most of the fights were my fault. I was usually the agitator and the cause of the escalation.
I’ve said it time and time again on this blog: He is a super mellow and happy-go-lucky vast majority of the time. He’s also super sweet whereas I’m either a complacent cat or some sort of cranky Godzilla.
Still, I regard my relationship with my husband as a pretty good one. Especially because we got married on the younger side (especially for millennials.) I was 23 and he was 27 when we tied the knot.
One promise I made to myself before I would get married was to see a marriage counselor. It just seemed like the logical thing to do before you tied the knot. I got that idea in college when a professor lectured us in passing that marriage counselor most commonly fail because the clients they see have already predetermined to separate. They were only at counseling to relieve the guilt of divorce rather than repair the marriage.
I wanted a preventative measure first but feeling cheap, I didn’t heed my own advice. In fact, we never sought to see a marriage counselor for even a basic tune-up until Luxe and Ms. FAF mentioned that marriage counseling is something covered by some employers.
I had hubby check his employer information packet and they do offer counseling! I am hoping we would never need to use it though.
Since we don’t have any big issues, I decided to track and play therapist (frugally!) myself by tracking arguments.
What Do You Guys Fight About?
We don’t fight about money. That’s one of the most common fights that couples get into but we don’t. We got lucky aligning our money habits with each other and it has saved us a lot of grief.
Oh man, a lot of the arguments were based on miscommunication and tones. I can recall one specific instance within the last 6 months and I call it “the trouble with marrying computer programmers” —
His Fault –
We got lucky again, our specific block actually hosts an annual block party! Just our block out of thousands here!
For the last 3 years we have lived on this block, we only ever went once! It was super fun the first time and I told Hubby I wanted to do this every year. The block closes off the road and everybody brings something special for the block party.
We missed the last 2 years because Hubby has horrible communication skills. He’s the one that retrieves the mail normally. Last year, he left the block party’s pamphlet notice on the computer desk and considered that as “telling me.”
Have you seen our desk? He leaves everything from mail to recycling to mortgage papers on the desk. I’m not going to see that little piece of paper even with perfect vision. I was angry at him last year for not telling me and he apologized.
I am even angrier now when he did the EXACT same thing this year. He left it on the coffee table this time and counted it as telling me. Then he remembered as he was coming home and saw the neighbors cleaning up the block party, he realized he was in trouble then.
He did it TWICE when last year I told him that he shouldn’t leave papers around. No one reads a small piece of paper laying around out of 10,000 other papers he piles down.
I’m fuming as I’m typing this. I’ve told him I love getting to know our neighbors and eating potluck food…goddammit Hubby.
And just to be fair, this one is on me…
My Fault –
We take Grace to the dog park on the weekends as a treat in addition to her normal walks. The off-leash dog park is usually very muddy and dirty. That occurred to me as Hubby was putting on his new shoes and I thought to myself, “he needs to put on his old worn out shoes so the new ones won’t be ruined.” Well, 2 seconds at the park, a Siberian Husky jumped on him and his new shoes were totaled.
I whispered something like “Why didn’t you wear the old shoes stupid?” and he snapped back, “You didn’t think of it either!”
“Yes I did.”
“You DID? Well why didn’t you say anything then!?!”
[I didn’t have an answer for that.]
He looked super betrayed. He felt I set him up for failure (sadly, I did.)
2. Delaying Responsibilities
We run multiple Airbnbs and things need to be fixed occasionally. Hubby is the maintenance guy and he does a lot, he really does, and I super appreciate it. Occasionally I have sweet talk him into doing things or else he puts it off. Our front door lock was running low on battery and he lost the manuals that specified on how to replace the batteries somewhere.
He lost it weeks ago but didn’t go to find it. He sat on the sofa playing the Stranger Things mobile game.
I lost my house key long ago and kept telling him I will go to the locksmith to get another pair made – well I didn’t do that either. I sat at the computer playing Sims 3 instead.
Then one day, the lock eventually ran out of juice completely while he was at work. I freaked out because our Airbnb guests (both sets arrived) couldn’t get in and he had the only key! We didn’t know where the manual was either.
We both have a tendency to roll off small responsibilities and then weeks later, it spins into a bigger problem somehow. Always. It turns into a frustrating witch hunt of which one should have done what first.
DO YOUR CHORES KIDS. ON-TIME.
3. Emotional Outlet
Remember the time when he threw his freakin’ phone at me?! That was the perfect example of using your spouse as an emotional outlet.
Alright, my turn, I have more emotional outbursts than I have pairs of shoes…
I recall one specific instance when I came back from work and it was a really bad temp gig. I was frustrated with how I managed my career choices and I came back home with a raging fury. I was soaking wet too and freezing cold. I was ready to pick a fight with whoever ticked me off. Even the poor dog was afraid to make eye contact with me.
It was one of those days…
Hubby happens to stroll into the kitchen in his pajamas, happy as a pig in mud. I accused him of not being there for me, waiting at the door, being ready with a towel to dry me off knowing I was coming home. Crazy, demanding stuff like that at poor hubby.
He scampered upstairs quick as lightning for a towel before I got angrier. Seeing my own pending crime against an innocent husband, I used that time to pull myself together. I didn’t want to turn into my father so I consciously repositioned my psyche and forced a nice smile until I felt better inside again.
Do We Fight Too Much?
The quick answer is no. HOLY CRAP WE’RE BORING PEOPLE. I re-read the notepad I scribbled down and I’m like…that’s our fighting for 6 months? But it’s so stupid. It’s not something you see on TV with the cheating spouse and the “I’m not Shelly, I’m Shirley, your adopted half-twin sister” kind of drama.
There isn’t even a scent of a stabbing.
But actually, the long answer is inconclusive. He does work 12 hours a day. I’m half cooped up at home tired from Airbnb and running around with the dogs. We don’t get that much face to face interaction time with each other to fight about things. Not surprisingly, when we do argue, it most often happens during the weekend. Over our last 2 3-day weekends we had an argument over something silly. We do about a hour worth of silent treatment and then we make up.
We’re still each other’s best friend though 🙂 that’s pretty clear to both of us even though this particular post might not highlight that.
Readers, do you fight with your significant other? Are they as silly as this? Have you ever done a marriage audit? Do you believe all engagements should come with a trip to the marriage counselor?