April 21, 2010...10:44 am

Love & War

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I’m a quiet fighter.  I begin with radio silence and then launch into a brutal stream of, I statements...

“When you said blank, it made me feel blank.”

Here we go… let the tense discussion begin!

Peter and I “discuss fight.”  We don’t raise our voices and we talk it out until we resurface from the depths of marital woe.  Our fights have never extended into the next day and I’ve never found myself on the couch.  I’m non-confrontational to a fault.  Peter is too.  So, our method of arguing has evolved into a hyper civilized form of problem solving.

Is that how I’m supposed to fight?

I am sensitive about this aspect of my life because I feel like it is assumed that married couples should have occasional knock ‘em out, drag ‘em out fights.

Is my marriage not as passionate as the neighbors next door who scream bloody hell at one another and then have psycho sex, followed by more screaming and crying, followed by more psycho sex?

So…imagine how thrilled I was when I read this New York Times article by Tara Parker Pope:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/18/magazine/18marriage-t.html

In the article, University of Utah psychology professor Timothy W. Smith, studied the health impact of fighting in marriages.

…The emotional tone of a marital fight turned out to be just as predictive of poor heart health as whether the individual smoked or had high cholesterol. It is worth noting that the couples in Smith’s study were all relatively happy. These were husbands and wives who loved each other. Yet many of them had developed styles of conflict that took a physical toll on each other. The solution, Smith noted, isn’t to stop fighting. It’s to fight more thoughtfully. “Difficulties in marriage seem to be nearly universal,” he said. “Just try not to let fights be any nastier than they need to be.”

How do you fight?  I’m really curious about how other couples go head to head.

-Cathleen Carr

5 Comments

  • OK, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted, because your website is blocked at work, and I almost never get on the computer at home, except today I’m home with a sick child, so with a good Dora counting in Spanish lesson going on in the background, I get to write something- yay!
    Ok, so is it wrong that I’m wishing for a good fight right about now? Not because I’m mad about something, or know he’s mad about something, but because I want something that shows he (we) care. Is that some twisted shit or what?!?! I feel like I’m going through one of those little spurts in life when we’re just trying to make it through each day. We both work full-time, our kids require so much time and attention, and with the good weather we pretty much come home at night, scarf down some dinner, and get outside so the girls can run around with the neighborhood kids. We end up hanging out with the neighbors, and then when the girls go to bed, I’m heading out for a walk with my next-door neighbor to help fight off the 20lbs I mysteriously seemed to have gained over the last couple of years (I’m eating cookies while typing this). By the time I get home, Lost, 24, The Office, or Glee is on, and we must fully immerse ourselves into the world of whether or not Jack really is the next Jacob, why did Renee have to die, what is Jim going to do to Dwight this week, and whether or not I really know those newer Madonna songs. Once that’s done, I’m just ready to freaking sleep. My husband and I seem to have been talking very little recently, so a fight would at least prove we care about each other right now.
    Ugh, that sounds so depressing and dismal right now…. I know we’ll snap out of it soon, but we seem to have formed this little routine that’s getting old and boring, so a good fight would at least break up the routine! OK, nevermind, I’m going to find a damn babysitter and plan a date night, and stop my bitching…. Thanks for my therapy today!

  • Love that article too — and what I like to call “dealing with differences” instead of fighting. I’m sure, in the grand scheme of things there’s more passionate sex when you’re comfortable and happy and not putting energy into the next blow-out, but instead into, well, maybe cooking a romantic dinner?

    Glad to have found your blog!

  • We fight with dictionaries and linked articles illustrating the point for Ed, and kleenex and wildly generalized statements for me. After nearly 15 years, I realize that we truly have completely different modes of learning. His are just wrong.

  • Oh we fight, but we never resort to name calling or nastiness like that. We have different political ideologies, but we avoid fighting about that.

    I have never been madder at my husband than I was when he thought it was a good idea to skip a couple COBRA payments and we were left without any health insurance for ourselves and our two children, one of whom has challenging pre-existing conditions. I was so mad, we didn’t even fight, I just didn’t speak or look at him for days and I would silently burst into tears.

    We got past that, but we don’t discuss the politics of healthcare reform.

  • We almost never fight. The key is not wanting it to escalate. If I’m at fault and just look (and try to feel) penitent for a few seconds, hubby always showers me with so much affection afterward that it’s totally worth it!


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