I’ve entered the season where, lockstep at about a 15 year remove, couples are splitting up the way once they got married. I think I know enough to say that no couple is really immune; in a year or five, if my husband Carl and I don’t manage to navigate well, we might be there too. Changing and growing together while dealing with life is a pretty tricky deal: part goodwill, part effort, and a good part luck and timing.
And yet I’ve got to say that as we come up to our 18th anniversary, I’ve noticed one thing about our arguments: They just get shorter and shorter. This may partly be because we’re running around with two young boys and simply out of breath.
But I think it’s also because we know which arguments are standard. One of us is frequently late, partly due to a native optimism (“It’ll only take ten minutes on the Don Valley Parkway”) and partly due to being able to focus on whoever that person is talking to fully. The other of us is a scheduler who moves two children from martial arts class to birthday party to nap to dinner.
Collisions are inevitable, and although I wish I could say that they’re all good natured, the truth is they still result in one party pacing while the other party is late.
But where we used to have a half-day argument about respect for one’s partner, respect for others’ schedules, planning in time to be late, weekends that are too full of obligations, and (on one memorable occasion) questioning of each other’s cognitive abilities, it now frequently comes down to a few sharp-edged texts and:
“Sorry I wasn’t paying attention”
“Thanks. Sorry for over-scheduling.”
And we’re done. Truly done. It’s not a bottom-line issue for us any more, this one. We have accepted each other’s sharp edges, worn them down a bit so we’re a closer to the middle, and then learned to work around the bumps.
When people talk about marriage being boring — and every relationship, in my opinion, has its cycles — they usually mean it in a bad way. (See this piece.) But I’m kind of glad to have boring, boring arguments. For one thing, it leaves more time to get the next barbeque.
What’s your take?