Thursday, September 23, 2010

I Don't Want to Fight

Linda and I had an argument last night. Like most fights, it was about something unimportant, but with both of us being so stubborn, the car ride back from the breastfeeding class descended into silence, followed by a cold, curt kiss good night once we got home. I know people say that spouses should never go to bed angry, but we’ve been together a long time. Occasionally, a disagreement rears up in which neither of us is willing to concede our position in the name of a peaceful night’s sleep. We go to bed angry, wake up angry, and I go through the day with that uneasy feeling in my gut. The routines of the day might let me forget about it for short periods, but I always remember and my stomach sinks into my shoes.

We talk through it eventually (as we did tonight), and at some point, when the edge of the conversation has softened, one of us will say something to make the other smile. Then I know we’re okay again.

I loathe fighting with my wife, and I'm so relieved when we get to the far side of an argument, but I can’t help imagining how much worse arguing will be when there’s a kid in the mix. I know the disagreement and make-up cycle is part of any healthy relationship. It’s a good thing. If two people live together and never have a disagreement, someone’s probably sailing on the river of denial (or the rapids of repression). I just hate for any kid of mine to have to live through a night of us not talking. Sure, we can make resolutions about never fighting in front of our child, pretending that everything’s fine until we’re alone, but that’s a form of lying I’ve never been very good at. Maybe it’s better for our kid to see their parent’s relationship, unvarnished and genuine, go through all of its natural ups and downs (up to a certain point, of course). Still, who wants to put a kid through that? I’m sure there’s a glut of books out there on this, and maybe when my kid’s old enough to see farther than the length of a ruler, I’ll pick one up, but for now, it’s something I’ll be thinking about.

57 days until baby.


  1. While you don't want your child to be privy to the details of your inevitable disagreements with Linda, like you say, it is a natural part of a healthy relationship. I've never been a believer in protecting children from every negativity that life tosses across their path. After all, it is through challenge that we learn and gain wisdom. We feel physical pain in order to teach us not to touch that which hurts us, or to let us know when something is awry with our health. So can we also grow strong emotionally through experiencing the sadness, rejection, pain, etc. As long your little one sees the other side, the love and affection you and Linda have for each other (and which will be by far in the majority), he or she will see that pain is not permanent and one clearly can get through it all. He or she will then grow into an adult with realistic expectations of his or her own relationships.

  2. I still become ill when my parents fight. I made a vow that my children would not hear us arguing- seriously. I mean we have disagreements and get angry, but we never scream and yell at each other. In this day and age, all kids know about divorce and that is one thing I don't want my kids to ever have to worry about.
    On the flip side, Jeff said he remembers the "one time" his parents had a fight and how weird it was.
    So, he really isn't into the whole "Michalek" fighting thing- he just refuses to engage- which resolves a lot of problems and is probably one of the main reasons we are together. (Although it can be frustrating) I had enough of it growing up and that wasn't a life path I was going to choose. To me, sacrifice is doing something you don't want to do, without fighting over it.
    Of course, there is still Michalek in me and during times of stress, I really just feel the need to fight. That's when it's the most frustrating to live with a person who refuses to fight. I can understand his position- why should he engage in an argument, just because I need to vent. Mostly, he just hangs around and listens. That works most of the time, but sometimes it makes me more mad. "Say something," but he knows that ANYTHING he says will be wrong. I have learned that it doesn't solve the underlying issue and talking is really better. I think the key with me (and us) is that my storms come and go quickly, so there really is no point in engaging. In a few minutes, half an hour, whatever, I will be totally over whatever it was that was making me crazy. I think that is one of my better qualities!!

  3. My husband and I are both firstborns so fighting is inevitable, I guess. In front of the children, we have always tried to limit it. I could always tell if the dog started to react that it was going too far.:) However, the goal of never going to bed angry is one we have never quite mastered. Over the years we have each learned that ignoring certain things and picking your battles is important.
    Now that all are grown, my strict rule when we are with our child/children is never to criticize or fight with my spouse. It serves no purpose, makes everyone uncomfortable, and could ruin our little, precious time together.