“Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who’ll argue with you.” – John Wooden
How much fighting is normal? I have convinced a couple to keep tabs on their squabbling to find out. Robbie and Nicole have been together for seven years, and in that time, at least for them, it feels like they have had hundreds of fights, ranging from tiny tiffs to full-on ‘let’s break up, then!’ blowouts. They certainly aren’t alone: according to a recent poll, on average, couples argue 312 times a year. But sometimes it’s easy to forget to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, so I’ve decided to documents both sides of the story. Read and learn.
Argument 1: The Karaoke Incident
Robbie: We had an epic fight after I skip Bette Midler’s ‘The Rose’ at karaoke while Nicole is singing it. In hindsight, I should have let it go, but at the time, I was drunkenly adhering to The Rules of Karaoke (if the tune is killing the party vibe, you get one verse, one chorus, then skip). Later that night, I apologize for skipping her song but then stupidly back-track into explaining The Rules of Karaoke. Nicole gets angry again.
Nicole: Those are not The Rules of Karaoke – stop spreading lies! The rules are that you cannot skip a song until the person singing it has agreed to stop. You’re welcome to bound them into a state of embarrassment by yelling ‘Skit it already!’, but until they are done, you must listen them sing whatever terrible song they like. Also, it was my birthday and my friend had said, ‘We should sing The Rose together’, so Robbie ruined that nice moment. And then he does a ‘Sorry but…” apology. So frustrating.
Argument 2: The birthday Hat
Robbie: It’s Nicole’s birthday. She’s been discussing a newfound love of baseball caps for three months, so I try to surprise her with a small gift. I spend three days buying and exchanging hats, unable to find one that would suit her style. Fed up with the indecisive process, I finally just pick one bearing the logo of my favorite basketball team. What can I say? I’m not really the ‘planning’ type and it isn’t her real present anyway. Her reaction, somewhat anticipated, is, “That is such an ugly hat.” And if I’m going to be totally honest, it was pretty ugly. We laugh about it a couple of days later.
Nicole: What Robbie doesn’t mention is that we have been discussing my blossoming like of baseball hats via email – with direct links to the online store of the exact hat I like. Wouldn’t that information make it incredibly easy to pick a cap for me? Also, it’s a Karen Walker floral-print baseball cap, which is nothing like what I ended up with. But yeah, it’s only a part of my present, so I while a little, but then tell Robbie he can keep the hat (which I secretly suspect was his plan all along, seeing as it is his favorite basketball team).
Argument 3: No money, more problems
Robbie: We had an argument over my dire finances and debonair spending habits (that’s what I call it, she uses a meaner word). Sometimes life just gets so tedious that I need to buy a $ 28 Silver Surfer comic just to inject a little bit of joy into my day. This is also true of coffee, beer, fried chicken, NBA paraphernalia, James Elroy novels, ‘80s power-pop records and jam doughnuts. She says my reckless spending is wrecking our future. I remind her that I’m a fun-lovin’ man of leisure and that’s why she likes me.
Nicole: Normally, I wouldn’t care at all about his expenditures because I like to squander my money on junk too (floral baseball caps, anybody?). But this is a recurring bone of contention as Robbie’s had a seemingly never-diminishing credit card debt for as long as we’ve been together. I don’t believe in spending money you don’t have, while his philosophy is “life is for pleasure”. I despise the idea of him throwing away money on interest payments when he could be saving it towards a home deposit, and I will continue to nag him into better fiscal habits (out of love, of course!).
Argument 4: Sandler, strife and videotape
Robbie: We decide to rent a DVD. She wants to watch Melancholia or Contagion or some other movie about death, illness and misery; I’m in the mood for Adam Sandler’s Jack and Jill. After 20 minutes of bickering at the video shop, we go home empty handed and read quietly in bed.
Nicole: I hate visiting the video store with Robbie. It takes 45 minutes and all he comes back with is a bunch of French New Wave and Adam Sandler movies. I stand by my vide picks: on Metacritic, Melancholia scores 80 (out of 100) while Jack and Jill notched up a poorly 23. However, I think this tiff illustrates why our relationship works – we’d rather compromise than have one person do something they hate.
Fight Club Analysis
Robbie: You can’t make a relationship work if you’re unaware of the other person’s concerns, so bickering can be healthy. The fact that Nicole and I have successfully navigated our way through so many arguments just makes me even more confident of the strength of our relationship. But I can’t be held accountable for my actions if she ever chooses a Bette Midler song at karaoke again.
Nicole: Reading back over our fights, I’m pleasantly surprised to find they’re mainly over petty things. I think it shows that when it comes to the big picture, Robbie and I are mostly on the same page. Admittedly, some of our fights are really dumb, but I just think that’s because we’re both honest about when we’re unhappy, which helps us build a better partnership.
Have a friendly week,
P.S. Word of the day: COMPROMISE! Do it and your relationship will flourish against the thorns of fighting.