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Those Are Fighting Words

May 5, 2011
couple fighting in public

Photo courtesy of Alasdair Dougall

That first fight as a couple is a very important one. It sets certain precedents for all future fights. It is essential that, in the throes of passion in your first fight with a partner, you take a deep breath and analyze the situation. This fight will predict your behavior (and your partner’s) for all future fights. Are you going to yell or talk calmly? Will he clam up and refuse to talk? Will you give him the silent treatment? Will you go to bed angry? Who will apologize first?

Intimidating, no?

Let me demonstrate with an unflattering story about myself (the best kind, right?). Last fall, I was hanging out at Chef’s bar, and was enjoying a  few drinks. He was working that night, so my friend and I just walked around talking with strangers. Chef and I had just become exclusive, and let’s just say I still had a bit of reckless flirting in me. In my alcohol induced state, I found myself casually flirting with a guy in Chef’s bar. I know, I suck. I’m a natural flirt and sometimes it just sneaks up on me. Before I even had a chance to realize I was flirting and stop myself, Chef walked by, touched my arm, and said into my ear, “You are flirting with someone in my bar? Nice, Catherine.” He was justifiably pissed. But since I had been drinking, I was certain he was overreacting. So then, I did the fun thing you do in fights: I turned it around on him.“Chill out! I was just talking to him! You don’t own me and you certainly can’t talk to me like that. I’m leaving.”

Not my proudest moment. Especially considering I couldn’t leave – I had no way home. Chef was my DD. So after stomping away, I came back, and ultimately apologized.

But damn it, in that moment, I had established a precedent in our relationship. I am the girl who stomps away – but comes back. The stomp-awayer-comer-backer.

It’s kind of like the people who, when you argue with them on the phone and they hang up on you, you know they’ll call back. They always call back. They’ve lost all credibility. So you wait patiently, and sure enough – the phone rings. And the fight continues.

Damn it, I was the stomp-awayer-comer-backer in my relationship with my ex fiancé too. I suck at really leaving. I like to fight things out! I like to have the last word! And I hate – despise – the feeling of leaving and losing all control. What if he doesn’t follow me? What if he doesn’t call and apologize the next day? What if it’s really over – this fight was the last fight, and me stomping away ended it all? So, I come back. I’ve always come back. This is my pattern. But it’s not the way I want to be anymore.

I only want to leave if I really mean to leave. I only want to leave, to throw out an ultimatum, only if I really mean it. No more crying wolf. It’s time to be more adult in my relationships.

Not only are there patterns in how you fight, there are patterns in what you fight about.

A few weeks ago, I desperately needed a day off of work. I had plenty of vacation days saved up and had just wrapped up a few projects at work, so it was good timing. When I told Chef I was going to take a day off the coming week, he suggested that I take Wednesday off (which is his day off) and we could spend the entire day together.

I had a dentist appointment that morning, but the plan was that after my appointment, Chef and I would meet up and do some grocery shopping for his restaurant (it seems to Chef that a day off simply means he’s not at the restaurant – but he’s never really off), then we would grab lunch and spend the rest of the day together.

Wednesday came, and Chef called me in the morning to inform me that to save time, he was going to get the shopping done while I was at the dentist. Then, he would meet me at my house by noon. I happily agreed, considering I didn’t really feel like going shopping anyway.

At noon he called me and said he got caught up. And that he’d be there shortly. So I waited. I expected this; he seems to always get caught up. At 1:30, he texted me that he was on his way now; he had gotten held up with work. I proceeded to fall asleep on the couch. Somewhere around 2:30, Chef said he was really on his way this time, but he had to get gas first. Now I was annoyed. When he finally arrived at my house around 3:45, I was pissed.

I was pissed because I had taken the entire day off to spend with him, and as he walked into my living room at 3:45, I had wasted the entire day waiting on him. At my job, I don’t have to take full days off. In fact, I can take my vacation time in 15-minute increments. If I had known he wasn’t going to show up until almost 4 p.m., I could have just taken the afternoon off – not the entire day. Or, I would have done something worthwhile, instead of just waiting around all day.

When I explained to him why I was upset, Chef turned to me, opened up his arms and said, “Let’s just hug it out.”

Umm, no.

I was upset. I wanted to talk it out, not hug it out. And hell, if talking it out didn’t work, I was willing to yell it out. Either way, I wanted understanding. I wanted an apology. And I didn’t want to be in this situation again.

This incident confirmed to me that Chef doesn’t like to talk. He does everything in his power to avoid disagreements. I suspected as much, because when I asked him what he and his ex-girlfriends fought about, he said, “Why would we fight? If we have to fight, then we shouldn’t be together.”

Purpose of argument fortune cookie

So true! Photo courtesy of Jon Collier

This couldn’t be further from what I believe. I don’t mind confrontation at all. I’d rather get everything out on the table than just bury it. I think that if you can’t resolve disagreements and talk about what is bothering you in a healthy way, then you shouldn’t be together. My main problem is that I don’t know how to choose my battles – everything is fair game.

When I told my friend Megan about the situation, she said it perfectly, “We fight because we care.”

I’m not saying a relationship should be full of battles and contention. But I think that in any normal relationship, there will be disagreements. There will be arguments. The key is to keep the fights healthy – no name calling, no threats, no references to his mother, no cheap shots and no ultimatums. And fight about the topic at hand – do not use one fight to bridge to a million other fights you’ve wanted to have for a long time (this rule can be hard to follow).

In relationships, there are often patterns in what we fight about. My ex fiancé and I had a few patterns during our seven years together. For a few years, we mostly fought about my trust issues and the little lies here and there in which I caught him (ironic, huh?). Then toward the end, when we were planning to get married, we fought about money. We had some very different viewpoints about how to spend money – he was a spender, and I was a saver. My point is, looking back, I can clearly see the patterns.

I’m beginning to see a pattern with Chef and me: We argue about the time we have together and his work schedule. It’s not so much that we fight because I’m upset that we don’t have enough time together. In fact, I’m happy with the amount of time we have together. I get upset about how he doesn’t meet the expectations he sets with me about the time we have together. If you aren’t going to be at my house until 4, don’t tell me you’ll be there at 12. Just tell me 4. If I come to your bar on New Year’s Eve and you’ve promised we’ll spend lots of time together, even though you have to work “some,” expect that I’ll be upset when we only spend 20 minutes together the whole night. Especially when I cancelled other plans to be there with you. Those are the things Chef and I fight about.

I don’t think this is unusual. Most people have patterns in their fighting. The same old issues come up again and again. I’ve heard it said that the common causes of divorce are disagreements over sex, money and how to raise the children. You can probably add Facebook to that list, as lawyers say that Facebook is being noted in one in five online divorce petitions.

Do you have patterns in the way you fight and what you fight about? How can you break those patterns once they’ve been established? Are there any things you do in a fight that you’d like to change? I’d love to hear what you guys think!

50 Comments leave one →
  1. natasha permalink
    May 5, 2011 8:41 am

    I also need to pick my battles – and learn to fight fair. A fight isn’t over until I say it is – which I realize isn’t right.
    I agree with ya for being pissed when he was 4 hours late – guys don’t seem to understand if they would be honest from the get go then we wouldn’t still be fighting about the same thing days later.

    • May 17, 2011 8:37 pm

      Natasha, you and me both re: the fight not being over until I decide it’s over. Totally not fair. Especially when I’m in the wrong… then I want the fight to be over ASAP. Sometimes I don’t give my partner the time they need to get over it (but demand this time for myself).

  2. Kelly permalink
    May 5, 2011 8:45 am

    I love the comment on the fortune cookie – I should really think about that when Scott and I fight, although we tend to fight about stupid little things. Rarely do we have big arguements. I guess after 23 years together I have learned to pick and choose my battles. Keep up the great work Catherine, I love your blog…

    • May 17, 2011 8:38 pm

      Thanks, Kelly. Sounds like if you’ve survived 23 years, you are doing something right. There is so much to choosing your battles… I’m working on it. My gut is to fight/argue/bicker/whatever about every little thing, if only to get it out there. But truly, some things just need to stay inside.

  3. May 5, 2011 8:52 am

    Right now my hubby & I work opposite shifts, when I was working Saturdays we would fight all the time. After I stopped working Saturday’s our communication got better and the fighting stopped. We just weren’t getting enough time together to be a couple and cramming a week’s worth of family time into one day (1/2 day on Saturday & Sunday). We usually fought about stupid things, stuff that really didn’t matter…we just lost our ability to deal with each other.

    Mu husband is also a very linear thinker…everything is black & white…not much room for gray. Me, I am a circular thinker….lots of gray. This also leads to arguments and stubbornness. He gets upset when he wants me to answer his question with specific verbiage and I do not accommodate him. I give the answer, just not the way he was expecting so he keeps asking until we argue about it, because he got it stuck in his head the way the question should be answered. I get stubborn, because I want him to move his thinking outside the box. This is one of the things he loves and dislikes about me all at the same time.

    When the hubby & I first got together, he was not a fighter at all. I had to teach him to argue. Which he does now, and pretty much fight fair. We argue about the item at hand and work through the topic than move one.

    • 2blu2btru permalink
      May 5, 2011 11:09 am

      I hear you on the black and white. Is this a guy thing? Seems like it. My boyfriend hates for me to qualify things, but there are some things I’m not comfortable being black & white about. He also has no idea how to phrase things in nice ways…still teaching him how to fight with me. He wasn’t a fighter, either. He is like Chef in that way…never stayed around long enough to fight. So it’s a process. Hopefully we’ll get where you are.

    • May 17, 2011 8:41 pm

      The Mommy,
      Thanks for your comment (and sorry for my delay replying – had a death in the family and I’ve been a little out of it). Your perspective about black/white vs black/white/gray meant a lot to me, because I am very much a black/white thinker, and I’ve had people like you in my life try to push me to think outside of those boxes and sometimes I get quite angry! 🙂 I’m glad that you guys are spending more time together and that’s helping your relationship. I think every couple has to work through these issues.

  4. May 5, 2011 8:59 am

    I think most couples have patterns in the way they fight (or don’t fight; there are some people like my father who refused to fight and gave in to my mother every time she was upset). To change the pattern, both partners have to want to change the pattern and that can be a real problem. If someone doesn’t want to fight (or discuss), they are probably not going to change the way they deal with things because it is too uncomfortable. It takes a lot of thought about the patterns and changing them to actually change how people disagree, and most people do not want to change that with which they are comfortable.

    • May 17, 2011 8:43 pm

      You are so right – both partners have to realize the destructive patterns and fix them. I think much of the time, one partner decides to change at a time, when the other isn’t ready, and it doesn’t help at all. You make a good point on couples having patterns in the way they don’t fight as well – which is equally unhealthy.

  5. May 5, 2011 9:12 am

    I feel the exact same way about arguing as you – it’s a way to let your feelings out and progress. It’s not necessarily a good thing when arguments turn into fights, but the way both partners handle the fight is a huge sign about how the rest of the relationship might go.

    I’m lucky because usually, when I tell Justin I have an issue with how he handled something (like if he didn’t show up ’till 4 when he told me noon), he’ll apologize. And not just a quick “I’m sorry now can we go on with our lives?” type of apology, but I real, “Ok I thought about it and I realize what I did was wrong” type of apology. And most of the time he’s good about not doing it again.

    BUT. I’ve had to learn the difficult lesson of choosing my battles. Because if I’m clearly just being nitpicky and being ridiculous about the things *I* feel he’s doing wrong, he’ll (rightfully) call me out on it. I have to remember that just because something is my way, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the only way. 😉

    That said, I don’t think you were unjustified in being upset about essentially getting stood up and wasting a day off. Obviously Chef doesn’t see the value of that time to you because he has his own business – he doesn’t have the luxury of time off, so he doesn’t value yours. Hopefully, after that incident and after you talked about it, he came to understand why you were so upset. And even more important, hopefully he will remember that next time.

    • May 17, 2011 8:48 pm

      SORRY about this weekend! I hope you guys had a lot of fun and I really hope you can come visit later this summer. I’m just now FINALLY replying to comments on this post – life has definitely gotten in the way of the blog. “I have to remember that just because something is my way, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the only way.” That’s my problem too. I really have a hard time accepting the way others do things, but I think I’m improving. I think I just got so used to the way my ex, and me and my ex, did things, that I don’t understand how other men I date are going to be so different. It’s hard to get used to.

      As far as Chef, he’s definitely more cognizant of how being respectful of my time is important, and nothing like this has happened since. I’ve found with him that sometimes talking about it right after it happens doesn’t work, but talking about it later he’s a little more open to delving into the topic. Our fighting styles are so different though, it’s definitely hard to get used to.

  6. May 5, 2011 9:14 am

    The situation that you just described with Chef has happened with a few of my boyfriends. I like that you called it expectations. I’ve always called it disappointments, and although true, I tend to say “disappointments” passive aggressively.

    If you say you’re going to be somewhere at a certain time, be there. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. Because when someone is late or doesn’t follow through, it disappoints me. Disappointment is no fun.

    • May 17, 2011 8:50 pm

      You are right, they are definitely disappointments. I am very clear about what I expect in a relationship, and I do everything I can to avoid being unclear. You don’t need to be a mind reader to date me. So, when I make my expectations clear, and you don’t meet them, yes, I’m disappointed. I think that Chef is starting to get this, so hopefully there won’t be situations like this in the future.

      • Jes permalink
        September 14, 2011 12:25 pm

        This Is seriously the EXacT main problem of my last relationship.. He would constantly say he would be somewhere with me at a certain time, and then not show up til 3 or so hours later… Sometimes he would have a reason, sometimes no reason at all…. It was like, i don’t CARe if you show up at 9 if you just tell me 9… i DO care when you show up at 9 and you were suppose to be there at 5… NOt only did he do this to me, he also did it multiple times when he was suppose to meet my friends…
        And the WorD “disappointment” was exactly what i would say to him every time.. He would get mad at me and say that he didn’t know why he was with someone who never got excited to see him or hang out with him… My response would be, how can i get “excited” to see you, when i know that you are not going to show up… the more excited i was, the more disappointed or let down i would be when he wasn’t there for 3 more hours…. He would then be completely baffled after I would tell him i didn’t want to hang out any more, then i was done waiting for the evening, and if he couldn’t arrive at a reasonable time, then he would just have to wait to see me another day… Seriously, he would be clueless as to why i would be telling him that.
        I also like the word “Expectations”… during the stretched out break up, i told him to just tell me if he couldn’t meet my expectations to just let me know, because they Were NOT going to CHanGe..

        • September 17, 2011 10:05 pm

          So much of what you said here sounds exactly like my old situation with Chef! Although, I have to say, things have improved. “How can I get excited to see you, when I know that you are not going to show up?” Seriously!! It’s a total bummer to sit around waiting for someone, and then when they arrive hours late, any excited feelings are replaced by pure annoyance. I would NOT tolerate it if a guy did this to meet my friends or family. Not okay! Glad you got rid of that guy!

  7. May 5, 2011 9:45 am

    When there is a disagreement, I will always apologize first and take the blame. How is this a problem? Taking responsibility for one’s actions is HUGE and important… but when he cheats and we fight, I apologize and realize that it’s obviously MY fault he cheated and we fought. I’ve got self-esteem issues.

    But I’m with you on the setting expectations issue. I understand that sometimes things are outside of our control, but when you make plans and 9 times out of 10 can’t or won’t follow through, there’s a problem. A big one. And it needs to be addressed. Talking it out (not screaming at each other or going in for a bear hug) is the only way to resolve the issue. You’ve got more of your life together than you think. Don’t second guess yourself.

    • May 17, 2011 8:52 pm

      Pammy Girl,
      I wish I could take a least a page out of your book, because sometimes it takes me a while to finally apologize. BUT – it is NEVER your fault if someone cheats on you or does something awful to you like that. You are worth being treated wonderfully – please don’t accept anything less.
      Thanks for your advice too 🙂

  8. Megan permalink
    May 5, 2011 10:45 am

    Very good and honest post. I’m the after-fight-angry-texter. It’s hard for me to let things go, even after I’ve said they’re over, especially if it’s something that really upset me at some point or I feel like my side wasn’t truly heard. I think about what I was mad about and get mad all over again, sometimes even madder, then send an angry text. I’m working on it, but patterns are hard to stop!

    • May 17, 2011 8:53 pm

      I didn’t know that about you! I can see how that can happen, especially if a fight is “over” before you think it is or have had a chance to get your say in. In a similar sense, I’ve also been known to bring up past fights in current fights…never fun, because then you are suddenly fighting about something totally different than you started fighting about!

  9. 2blu2btru permalink
    May 5, 2011 11:05 am

    The time thing is a big one in my relationship, too. If you are busy or don’t feel like being together, that’s fine; just say so, so I can make other plans with my day. If I make time for you, I’m taking time away from something else. Don’t waste it! Another thing we go round and round on is money, though not in the traditional way. He will ask me what I think about his finances, expressing his dissatisfaction, but if I offer a suggestion, he will attack. He’s very passive aggressive for the most part, and is a classic avoider. He loves to tell me to stop yelling, even if I’m not (I’m merely speaking in an irritated tone, not a loud one, which I guess sounds loud as I usually speak softly…hmph). I am not a big fighter, but once you start a disagreement, I don’t let it drop until we’ve got it all out. No use having to have this discussion again. Strange thing, he seems to relish fighting (he thinks they are “productive”, I guess; I find them largely redundant). I don’t know how to break those patterns, or else I would have already. 🙂

    I have a remarkable memory, so when we have the same fights about the same things, I am the “bringing old agruments upper.” Like, no, when I asked you about this last time, you said blah blah blah. I wish I didn’t do that. I know it’s not necessarily true now because it was true before, but I bring it up anyway, especially if I was really hurt or offended by it.

    This response is entirely too long. Sorry. 😀

    • May 17, 2011 8:56 pm

      Your response was not too long at all! Sorry for my delay in responding to you :).

      SO many of us are “bringing old arguments uppers.” Damn, it’s just too easy. Especially when we have a good memory – I have one just like you :). I think it sounds really frustrating that when you fight with your significant other he tells you to stop yelling even if you are not. That would infuriate me!!

  10. May 5, 2011 11:17 am

    Wow… great post! And a perfect topic!!

    Hmm let’s see… I think I’m the “walk-awayer-avioder-until-later” person. When the boyfriend and I fight, once I say what I need to say I need to walk away and avoid all conversation about the fight until I’ve cooled down and can calmly talk about it. He’s the opposite, he needs to talk about it RIGHT AWAY!!! That drives me crazy!!

    I would love to be able to change how I jump to conclusions in arguments. But I think I’ve set the standard now, and I don’t know a way out.

    • May 17, 2011 8:59 pm

      I am just like your boyfriend – I prefer to talk about it immediately! Hash it out so that it doesn’t fester inside of me. But, I realize, this doesn’t help me choose my battles well. If I fight about everything immediately, I don’t take the time to figure out if it’s even worth fighting about. All about balance.

      I guess on your dilemma, jumping to conclusions in arguments, you just have to be very conscious of yourself doing it and immediately stop yourself. Try affirmations when this happens. Hell, put a rubber band on your wrist and snap it when you catch yourself jumping to conclusions. Maybe that would help?

  11. May 5, 2011 11:48 am

    Sadly I’m the “give in and/or apologize fast to avoid confrontation and then go cry in my room” kind of fighter. Not very productive and I always am left feeling disrespected and resentful (Though I realize that I am setting the precedent by disrespecting myself first) Change is so hard though….

    • May 17, 2011 9:01 pm

      Thanks for your comment and sorry for my delay in responding, had some life issues get in the way of the blog the past couple of weeks. Change is hard, but at least you realize how you could improve. That’s the first step, right? It says something that you doing just give in/apologize fast to get it over with and not think about it again – it actually bothers you. That means these issues bother you enough to do something about them. Good luck working on this – I’m working on my stuff over here too 🙂

  12. May 5, 2011 12:39 pm

    First off, I think you need to work on your grammar here. The correct phrase is, “them’s fightin’ words!”

    But seriously, I think you nailed with the picking your battles part. When you fight, you have to stick to the topic at hand. You can’t use it as an excuse to bring up past issues. THAT’s how you have a productive fight.

    • May 17, 2011 9:02 pm

      LOL, I totally almost made that the subject line, but just couldn’t bring myself to :). You are so right about sticking to the topic at hand. Tough to do, once you’ve been in a multi-year relationship of many different fights. But definitely something for which to strive.

  13. May 5, 2011 2:52 pm

    “I don’t mind confrontation at all. I’d rather get everything out on the table than just bury it. I think that if you can’t resolve disagreements and talk about what is bothering you in a healthy way, then you shouldn’t be together.”
    I totally agree!

    Very wise post. I’m one of those people who lets things pile up and then I explode in a really damaging way. Not. Good. At. All.
    I, too, am trying to get better and grow up. Stop saying something is okay when it’s not, start bringing up the things that bother me at the moment in which they bother me, not months later when I just can’t take it anymore. It’s hard, but it’s part of growing up and making relationships work, isn’t it?

    Love the post, really got me thinking!

    • May 17, 2011 9:05 pm

      Thank you for your kind words – glad you enjoyed the post! “Stop saying something is okay when it’s not” … so true! That sounds so simple, but it’s so hard to actually do. As women, we need to stop using the word “fine” to mean “not fine at all.” Even if when your boyfriend asks, “Is everything OK?” and it’s really not, don’t say, “It’s fine.” You can say, “It’s not OK. But it will be.” if all you need is some time. Thanks for your comment!

  14. May 5, 2011 5:08 pm

    My most passionate relationships have been ones in which we fought a lot, and I think you’ve touched on why that makes sense here: it means we care. If you just roll over and play dead rather than confront your issues, where’s the spark there?

    • May 17, 2011 9:06 pm

      I totally agree. And I hate to say, some of the passion of fighting makes it all worth making up 🙂

  15. May 5, 2011 8:19 pm

    I’m more likely to tell my manfriend to leave. And if he does, I tell him to stop. I think he might be a stomp-away-and-come-backerer for the most part but I don’t usually let him get to that point.

    I think I need to work on it as well.

    • May 17, 2011 9:07 pm

      Miss Milk,
      It’s just about saying what you mean. If you don’t want him to leave, don’t tell him to. If I don’t want to leave, I should stop pretending to leave. I can’t think of a single time that my stomping away has helped anything.

  16. January permalink
    May 6, 2011 7:51 am

    For a few years, we mostly fought about my trust issues and the little lies here and there in which I caught him….

    Catherine, I just found out my boyfriend lies to me, quite often. Innocent little lies now and then. Nothing important, mostly it´s about stupid things like ordering pizza or calling his parents.

    It doesn´t concern cheating or anything serious.

    What do you think I should do? Should I just ignore it? I just find it so hard to trust somebody in important issues when he lies in those unimportant… I have always been trusting person but now my whole core was shaken. Any advice what to do to restore the faith? Thank you so much…

    • May 17, 2011 9:12 pm

      I’m sorry for my delay in responding. I had a death in the family/busy couple of weeks and haven’t been able to reply to comments.

      I can’t say that I have any amazing advice to share with you. All I can say is what I learned – small lies are tellers for big lies. In my experience, the small lies went hand in hand with the bigger lies. You have to ask yourself, why is your boyfriend lying to you at all? Does he get a thrill from deceiving you? Can he not control himself? If you can figure out why he does it, you may be able to help him overcome it. Well, that’s if he wants to overcome it. In the very end, you deserve to be with someone who you trust, and who deserves your trust. If you are always going to be wondering with him, then you deserve better. Being in a relationship when you are always questioning your partner, checking up on them, trying to catch them in a lie, is miserable. Trust me.

  17. Claudia permalink
    May 6, 2011 12:26 pm

    I’m also a stomp off – come back later person. For me, its a lot less about them following and apologizing (they never do) and more about stopping before I say something I’ll regret. Or regret more than what I’ve already said. My words can be very biting. I attempt to say I need to let the emotions ride out before I can calmly talk about the problem in order to resolve it instead of stomping, but it doesn’t always happen.

    How I explain it to them: I may be a very logical person most of the time, but I’m still a chick. Guys use logic to cancel out emotions. My logic starts off that way, but sometimes it joins forces with the emotions. When that happens, I have to walk away or things won’t get resolved.

    There is definitely a need to pick your battles. However, everyone should expect to be treated in the way that makes them happy. Compromise isn’t about letting someone do something that makes you unhappy. It’s about finding a middle ground that makes both people happy.

    As for Chef. He’s expecting you to be understanding about his schedule while not respecting you, your time and the sacrifices you make to be with him. That’s walking over you.

    What I suggest is in 3 parts:
    1: Do not make sacrifices to be with him until he shows over time that he respects your time. See him only when you are both available. You should really only make sacrifices for people who deserve it. When they don’t, you’ll resent them.
    2: If he is more than x amount of time late, he’s given up seeing you for the day. The amount is whatever you feel comfortable with.
    3: Have a calm conversation with him. Tell him how the bahviour makes you feel without it being a personal attack. Instead of “you make me feel ____”, say “when you do ___, I feel ___”.

    This isn’t a punishment, and shouldn’t be thought of as one. It’s saying that you aren’t going to allow him to walk all over you. It’s sticking up for you and your time.

    • May 17, 2011 9:17 pm

      Thanks so much for your comment and your advice (sorry for my delay in responding). You should start an advice column – good advice indeed! I think Chef gets it now, and things have been going much better is this department.
      “Compromise isn’t about letting someone do something that makes you unhappy. It’s about finding a middle ground that makes both people happy.” Couldn’t have said this any better! So true!

  18. May 7, 2011 8:43 am

    My hubs is blessed with a short memory, so even we have absolute shouting matches, give it a day and he’s completely forgotten that we were ever fighting about anything. I on the other hand might still be stewing. It’s hard to stay mad when he’s completely forgotten and is all loving. Of course the short memory means that we have the same argument multiple times. Hubs will get upset because, “he’s not allowed to win any arguments,” but the things he digs his heels in about are all things that he’s acknowledged I know more about which of course leads to arguing because I’m right.

    The notion that relationships shouldn’t be work is ridiculous. Any time you have 2 people with opinions and backbones, you’re going to have some disagreements. The only relationships where you aren’t going to have some back and forth are those weird cult-like stepford wife always say yes type relationships. And who wants that?

    • May 17, 2011 9:22 pm

      I have to say, your husband sounds pretty endearing, even though I can imagine it would get annoying to be upset about something and your husband has totally forgotten about it all together. Or having the same fight over and over.
      And you are so right, there is no way I want this perfect relationshp that’s all stepford wife cult-like. I’d rather fight like cats and dogs than that!!

  19. Ghetto_Philosopher permalink
    May 9, 2011 10:02 pm

    Hey Catherine, you’ve been given an award. It is silly but I hope you can have some fun with it

  20. May 10, 2011 12:08 pm

    Being an uber-passive person I detest fighting, though I understand the strange ‘necessity’ for it in a relationship.

    I was never good at fighting. I’d usually shut down, take it all and then whether I was in the right (or the wrong) I’d just go along with whatever resolved the issue at hand.

    Then I entered a relationship where fighting became a daily event, much like brushing my teeth. It got to the point where I finally “grew a pair” and stood up for myself.

    Though my volume may have reached extremely loud levels I was able to keep a level head in my fighting. Well, wait…I’ll say I was able to keep a level head in fighting when I cared. After that particular relationship was over she would still try to pick fights daily. I didn’t say anything I regret, but I certainly put the ‘nice’ in the cellar.

    The current Matthew is a rational fighter. I may spend some time silent because I am simply taking my time to absorb everything that has been said and fomulating how I want to proceed since obviously at times like those word can easily be taken in a manner they are not meant to be.

    But I definitely think there is not enough emphasis on picking ones battles. Working in customer service I get to “deal” with people who sometimes treat the issues they are having like someone just drop kicked their youngest child for a field goal.

    One of these days I feel like saying to an extremely angry customer, “If this present issue has you acting like this, I would certainly hate to see how you react when something that actually matters happens and doesn’t go your way.”

    It all comes down to perspective I think. We all have a different perspective and arguing (and getting angry) isn’t so much about proving your are right but just trying to get someone to see through your eyes.

    • May 17, 2011 9:55 pm

      Again, so sorry about this weekend! I hope you had a blast on your trip and you definitely need to let me know about your next visit. I am not a person who cancels plans, so it was definitely hard for me to do so. Thanks so much for being so understanding.

      Also – sorry for my delay in responding to your comment. I’ve been really overwhelmed with everything that it wasn’t until last night/today that I could finally even think about the blog.

      I need to take a page or two out of your book. It sounds completely reasonable to spend some time silent as you are absorbing everything and trying to figure out how to move forward. I have a problem with silence in general. No good at it. I fill the void with anything I can! And, I think that has something to do with my fighting style too.

      I can’t imagine being in a relationship where you fight daily. That’s enough to drive you crazy!! And, I think anyone in that situation would do/say things they weren’t proud of. Glad to see that you got yourself out of that situation – sounds awful.

      I’m working on picking my battles. You make a great point about customer service — in my relationships, sometimes I complain about things (without really realizing it) that aren’t that important, and I need to remind myself of the truly awful things that COULD be happening in my relationship (because they’ve happened to me in the past). I think that in a way, I’m trying to guard myself from getting really hurt by fighting about the small stuff. Or maybe I just like fighting. Haha 🙂

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment!

  21. May 14, 2011 3:28 pm

    from blog post: ” My main problem is that I don’t know how to choose my battles – everything is fair game”.

    I think this is part of the success for a lasting, happy love partnership. It’s a mistake to fight as a means to have someone validate for you their love of you by pushing their boundaries of anger …for small/trivial reasons.

    Problem with me is that I complain ..not about him, but other stuff which can test his patience. So I have to listen to myself and ask just what is my real problem?

    He gave up fighting over my messiness, since he is a neat freak. So he keeps his areas clean while I’m more slapdash. His more flagrant grammar errors, I gave up arguing over his errors. I just go ahead and correct them without wasting time discussing every error of his to get his “permission”.

    After all, I’m the blogmaster for 2 blogs that cover off 2 firms he runs. 🙂

    I strongly advise that arguing for the sake of arguing does not improve the quality of a love relationship. I know some people get energized by it, but we really truly have to redirect our high energy to something else. You might be wearing down the person without realizing it because they may not be aware or have given up expressing their frustration or exhaustion to you.

    So we go for bike rides together or separately. 🙂

    • May 17, 2011 9:29 pm

      Sounds like you and your husband have come a long way to understanding each other, picking your battles, and not letting the little things get in the way of your relationship. Seems like there is a lot we can learn from you guys. Although, gotta say… I’m a little bit of a neat freak and I’m not sure I could handle a messy person! LOL, jk 🙂

  22. May 14, 2011 3:34 pm

    As for arguing over the same time, especially on time spent with one another: that is important to figure out how to find that time where each person can honour it. I’m not sure if Chef/BF has a job that is unpredictable in terms of demands or he has children. I might be more forgiving but for any other reasons: NO. Unless I had a similar job that had unpredictable time demands.

    If it’s because the person is disorganized, it’s other friends, and it’s a repeated pattern over and over. What’s the point? I just would give up trying to “change the person” and leave.

    • May 17, 2011 9:32 pm

      With Chef, it’s his job. Not kids, and certainly not his friends. I do have to acknowledge that he spends all his free time with me, so it’s not like he is blowing me off for his friends. He just has a hard time judging his time and estimating what time he’ll be with me. Which leads to my disappointment. But we’re working on it. I’m not trying to change him, but I think if he’s more cognizant of his this affects me, he’ll be more aware and try to set more realistic expectations.

      • May 18, 2011 8:31 pm

        Hope that you and he find a balance in expectations. My partner’s son is a chef and is married. He’s latest job is the best type of chef job: he’s a staff member in govn’t whereby his restaurant is at a community centre but it’s a new innovative arrangement where his restaurant serves as a training ground for marginalized/homeless youth. Something like what celebrity chef Jamie Oliver did with his restaurant.

        So his son designs the menus, dishes and restaurant does draw in the public. And he gets work for weddings, etc. either through restaurant but he doesn’t work the same late night punishing hrs. that is so endemic in the restaurant industry.

        And he gets the benefits of a govn’t employee, because he is one.

        Something for your BF to think about..

        I can appreciate your challenge.Look at this way: your BF is not a cop…where their lives could be on the line. Or even doctors depending on level of committment in their careers, can have demanding uneven hrs. due to patient care loads.

        • June 1, 2011 11:39 pm

          Thanks, Jean, for sharing your personal experience with this. The restaurant industry is certainly a hard one to be in and I can definitely see how it can affect a relationship is one is not careful. Thanks for sending ideas for Chef. And you make a good point, I would hate to date someone who was in such danger every day! I’d be a nervous wreck! I too, hope that Chef and I can balance the expectations to reality. I’m less bothered by the amount of time he has to spend with me as making sure that I am not dissapointed or feel let down when he makes promises he can’t keep. We haven’t had a lot of problems with this since I wrote this post, so i seems we are on the same page. Thanks for your comment!


  1. Loose Ends – August Edition « Simply Solo: Single girl starting over – follow the journey

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