It's not that we don't fight now that we have kids. If anything, we fight more. We're often exhausted, and I slowly deplete my reserves of patience during daily potty training debacles, tantrums and sibling sharing squabbles. By the time they're in bed, a dirty sock can set me off.
But we both know the game now: I'm battling my erratic emotions in an attempt to blow off steam; he's waiting for me to calm down so we can discuss our options.
So when he extends a bit of humor or a back massage as a peace offering, I usually take it and drop the quarrel.
Last week, we were in the midst of a familiar spat over working hours. He balked when one of my freelance projects siphoned our weekend family time; I complained that he worked longer than nine-to-five. Poll: Does Work Stress Affect Your Relationship?
He said: "I wish you were home more."
I said: "I can't believe you were 20 minutes late. It's like you don't even want to see your family any more!"
We meant the same thing.
"I hate fighting," he told me as things began to cool down.
"I kind of like it."
He laughed and leaned in to kiss me. I backed away and scowled but didn't resist when he reached for my hand as we opened the door to check on our sleeping daughters before we headed to bed.