Argumentus Interruptus

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Speaking of fighting…(well, ok, I didn’t last week, but before that) I had been blogging about “fighting fair.” Then, at the end of last week, Steve and I got into a fight. In our incredibly, unbelievably busy week, we found time to fight. What were we thinking?

Anyway.

Predictably, because we are both busy day and night recently, the argument was about what wasn’t getting done around the house. It started with me complaining that Steve wasn’t pulling his share of the cleaning weight. I could see him immediately get into his defensive mode.

However, he didn’t bite all the defensive way, for his answer was pretty even keel. He answered that what really is going on is that he does things that I don’t do and vice versa, and that we both need to do more. WHAT!? He must either be blind, or not really hearing what I was saying. It was clear, crystal clear to me, that he should be agreeing with me. He has got to realize that I was taking care of most of the cleaning.

“Honey, you might be “picking up”, as I do, but that is not cleaning.”

There was then some back and forth about what exactly cleaning was. It quickly devolved from there. It was getting heated. In fact, if I remember rightly, there even was the beginning of some tears. “I have cleaned the bathroom floors twice a week! Have you done it even once?” “You have not done it twice a week.” “Just because you don’t see me do it doesn’t mean I don’t do it! You’re just not around that much and I want to spend what little time we have together with you, not cleaning the bathroom! (subtext: see how loving I am?) And anyway, are you saying I’m not being honest?” And so on…..

Then. Blessedly. Someone knocked on our front door. My mom had stopped by. (Did she hear raised voices? If so, she didn’t let on.) Anyway, our mood changed immediately, our tone of voice, our demeanor. “Hi! Mom! (smile)” We had a nice visit.

The argument wasn’t mentioned again over the weekend except for some good-natured jibes. We both thought the argument quite silly once we were forced to walk away from it. The issue at hand is easily solvable, not worth an argument and won’t even be an issue when the summer is over and both of our schedules slow down.

I’ve heard that marriage counselors often suggest a “Time Out” for couples who find themselves arguing a lot (and NOT fairly). Steve and I had never tried this until my mom knocked on the door (thanks, Mom) and unwittingly imposed one.

Well, hell, it works! It is truly effective to walk away (important: this is not the same as storming away); particularly when one or the other begins to employ unfair tactics. Take a breath and allow yourselves the opportunity to take a step back. For crying out loud, sometimes that’s all that’s needed to get a little perspective: maybe even to see how silly/inane/unproductive/sad/crazy/off-topic/mean/not-the-way-you-want-to-spend-your-time-anyway an argument has become.

I hope it’s as clear for you as it was for us.

This concludes another view from my married life.

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