Sometimes You Don’t Need Therapy, You Need Distance.
If you thought my wife and I couldn’t get into a fight about which TV show to watch next – for the record, “Star Wars: Rebels” vs “Mythbusters Search” – well, you’d be wrong.
Stupidly, we fought because we thought the other person cared more. I wasn’t really in the mood for Rebels, but I didn’t feel like making a fuss if that’s what the family wanted. But Gini, sensing my reluctance, immediately concluded that seeing Mythbusters was the height of my desire, and so we wound up in a brief shouting match of both of us screaming that THIS WASN’T FUCKING IMPORTANT TO US.
Dumber fights have been had. But not by much.
And I was really wrecked by this three-minute fight. I was con-dropped from being “on” all weekend for ConFusion, and I had my doctor’s appointment tomorrow (now today) to determine when I’d be going in for a heart catheterization, and when it was done I just slouched my way downstairs and fulminated. I felt awful, and sullen, and drained.
Thank God it wasn’t anyone’s fault.
Look, I’ve seen too many people who have to assign blame for every clash. Someone had to have screwed up to make me feel this bad – and that screw-up has to be addressed, now.
But no. Gini was coming down with the flu, and also peopled out from having presided over a wedding that weekend, and so she was as exhausted as I was. This wasn’t something that needed to be fixed, or apologized for – we were both punchy, communicating poorly, and we’d inadvertently smacked each other around in, ironically, an attempt to be courteous to each other.
Sometimes, you have fights because neither of you are in a good headspace. That’s not to excuse the hurt, of course – but I recognized that my wife was trying her best and failing for reasons that had little to do with her normal communication patterns, everything to do with the fact that I was more sensitive because my batteries were redlined, and this wasn’t A Problem To Be Fixed but A Bad Day We’d Rather Not Have Had.
Some days, if you’re in a good relationship, you write this off as a Mistakes Were Made, and retreat to your separate corners, and come back again when you’ve gotten over yourself.
That’s less satisfying, particularly to those of us who grew up going to therapists. You’re taught that you should come away from a fight with some sense of advancement, that you’ve learned something from this, that you’re smarter and braver and wiser for the conflict. You’re trained to sharpen your communicating skills so that you won’t have the same fights over and over again…
But the truth is, no matter how good you have become at honing your discussion skills, some days you’re just not up to the task. Even the best hairstylist has a bad hair day.
On those days, you can tear yourself to pieces trying to improve the situation, or you can just accept that today’s a write-off, hug it out, and hope you feel better tomorrow.
We hugged it out.
Let’s hope this day works better.