I'm not going to lie to you -- Wine Guy and I fight. I don't write about our fights very often (and if I do, not in much detail) because it wouldn't be fair to WG since he can't present his side of the story. And since my friends, some coworkers and my mom read this blog pretty regularly, I try to keep anything that would cause any real friction between any of these parties to a minimum.
I don't think we fight any more than most "normal" couples. But, when we are in the thick of a skirmish, I tend to be the type that assumes the relationship must be over. When I had my first big fight with Only Child (my first serious relationship) I became absolutely hysterical in tears because I was sure this meant we were doomed. Once he realized why I was overreacting (he was a relationship veteran at that point), he explained that fighting between couples is normal and doesn't necessarily mean we're breaking up. I recall an episode of "Friends" when Chandler (a relationship novice like me) had a similar reaction to his first fight with Monica. Don't you just love it when your life can be reduced to a sitcom character's?
Thank God I've grown since those early Only Child days and can endure a fight with only minor hysteria. I think if you asked Wine Guy, his biggest complaint about my fighting technique would be the volume of my voice. I come from a family that yelled a lot, and without much provocation. It wasn't the most peaceful of households and I think I developed the very bad habit of raising my voice whenever I got frustrated. Actually, I tend to raise my voice when I get excited too. This is one of the main things I would like to change about myself because it's a) obnoxious and b)a guarantee that a minor disagreement will escalate into an all-out fight. If there's one thing I've learned from my relationship past, MEN DO NOT LIKE BEING YELLED AT - especially by a chick. Gee - who would have guessed that?
But Wine Guy has his own bad habits when it comes to fighting. What first comes to mind is ultra typical of men in general. At least I think it is -you tell me. He simply shuts down. It almost seems like he's sinking into himself. This is when my fighting style becomes particularly troublesome because eventually I will cross the line with whatever blather is coming out of my mouth at a high volume and he will finally just leave, usually right after he lets out one big, verbal explosion. Sometimes he comes back, but even when he does, he still pretty much has little to say. If this is typical of many men, it seems to be just one more example of how men and women can seem so fundamentally incompatible. It's a miracle we end up together at all.
So Wine Guy and I have some bad fighting habits. But our make-up habits are where we truly shine like no other relationship I've had before. Sorry people, I'm not talking about make-up sex here (another subject I tend to avoid in detail). This good habit endures far longer than a roll in the hay. I've learned that the quicker we get to Wine Guy storming out and us going to our separate corners to cool off, the sooner we will get to the good part - communication and genuine understanding. This is when I love him the most.
He'll go home and I'll sulk on the couch. Then I'll hear the muffled chime from the other room and hope it's what I think it is. I pick up my cell phone and there it is - a text message. Normally I am anti-text messaging for any matter of substance and the first time I got a post-fight text from Wine Guy I was irked. But it's hard to be irked when someone sends you a few lines of thoughtful text that perfectly resolve everything. In just three short sentences he is able to astutely sum up the unspoken baggage beneath the fight (because, of course, the fight is usually about something surface-y but really, deep down about something else), then take ownership of his part in the fight, credit me for whatever good point(s) I made, tell me he loves me, and finally, wish me a good night's sleep.
My heart melts instantly. And not because he takes all the blame. Actually quite the opposite. We are both the kind of people that instructively blame ourselves whenever we get the chance, so I immediately reply to his text saying that no, it was my fault because of whatever it was that I did wrong. Then I thank him for his generous thoughts, tell him I love him, and wish him a good night's sleep.
By the time I check email the next morning, he has sent me an even kinder message that puts it all to rest. I reply and then we proceed with our love affair - until the next fight. What I like most about these little rituals is that each time they happen, we learn more about each other and our bond grows just a little more. Unlike with some of my past relationships, we aren't having the same fight over and over and over again. Instead, we are on a forward moving path and hitting small obstacles and speed bumps along the way. So far, none have been substantial enough to put us out of commission.
Now that we've decided to "shack up," I do worry that we won't have our separate corners to go to and cool down. I can't imagine him storming out of the living room, walking down the hall and feeling distanced enough from the fight to text me from the bedroom. It just seems silly. So I'm keeping an eye out for a house that's big enough to accommodate good makeup text. Either that or stop fighting entirely. But what are the odds of that?