You shut off the light, and lay there side by side in stoic, stubborn silence. You can tell he’s not sleeping and he can tell you’re not sleeping because you both know by now after 2.5 years of sharing a mattress and sheets how to tell this sort of thing.
One of you finally gets brave and says something, the other replies and you’re right back where you were – in the thick of it. Because these things refuse to dissipate with time – they only fester and expand. In no time, you reach The Eye of the Storm, the familiar checkpoint of, Okay, fine, just do what you want! It doesn’t matter, why are we even arguing about this? But everyone knows you’re never arguing about what you’re actually arguing about.
Sometimes it’s the toxic combination a bad day and mutual sensitivity. Other times, it’s just a need for validation or an apology for something that happened days or weeks ago that you didn’t even realize bothered you until it boiled over into the tone you took when you passive-aggressively demanded that he please pass the butter!
It’s a pretty strange, sometimes childish process, this Resolving an Argument. I’ve decided it really isn’t a matter of marrying someone you won’t argue with because that isn’t really a thing that exists. It’s a matter of marrying someone who knows how to argue correctly. The point is, I think I married a professional Argument Resolver. The point is, I think it’s a privilege, to have someone to argue with.
Now, now, now. Before you freak out! Before you dismiss me as another online presence who’s all smoke and mirrors – feverishly throwing up glitter, quinoa, cupcakes and distressed furniture, just listen to what I’m saying.
We spend so much of our time each day talking work talk, talking small talk, talking talk that we don’t care to talk. But in an argument, we get to state our case. We get to throw fits and stamp our feet and make really unflattering faces at each other. And we get to say things we actually feel (however irrational or self-indulgent) at someone who actually cares enough about us to listen.
And, I don’t know. I think that’s kind of a beautiful idea. Because if the opposite of love is indifference, arguments mean you care at least a little, if not a whole lot.
And how do those arguments in the dark at twelve am over car parts end? In apologies and a few jokes cracked and laughter and his arms tight around my shoulders and his scruffy cheek on mine. In our frozen, angry faces finally melting, surrendering, collapsing into smiles.
Think breathing fresh, cleansed air after a storm. It’s like that.
Harry Potter impersonations. Old geezer dance moves. Beard growing. Apologies.
He’s good at many things.
But mostly me.