Oh fighting. The moment you raise your voice, stamp your foot, passive aggressively sneer, smile with deadly intention and so on and so forth – we have all done it. We have all been enraged by those we at one point, perhaps even seconds prior, were feeling an infinite amount of love for. Suddenly, the dark clouds appear and the rain commences, sometimes in light sprinkles, other times in bucket loads (or cats and dogs).
Very often fighting is an attempt to protect a very vulnerable part of oneself. Being angry is far easier than sad. Someone pushes your buttons and instead of showing them how hurt that made you, you lash out, putting up a strong barrier so as to prevent further hurt. The end result is often a bit of a mess and the after-math can include a lot of picking up of pieces that could have been avoided had we just openly stated how we felt from the beginning. The good news is that we have a choice. We can choose to handle a tricky situation by taking a deep breathe, stepping back and calmly solving the problem at hand, as opposed to letting the adrenaline flow, energy rise (and perhaps temporary insanity ensue).
Arguing, however, is completely normal. We all do it. With loved ones, friends, and heck, even ourselves. There is a boundary you should not pass from “normal” to destructive that sometimes we have trouble identifying ourselves. For example, if you find yourself fighting about whether the Pacific or the Atlantic ocean are larger every evening, it’s time for some help. (Those of you who have seen Radio Days by Woody Allen will know what I am speaking about. If you haven’t, I recommend it).
Admitting that one needs help is not easy. Taking the leap of asking for help from people you know or a third party that you have to pay – it simply ‘aint a walk in the park. It is, however, worth it. It may not feel that asking for help will get you anywhere, instead it often feels embarrassing, humiliating and generally just terribly painful. Accepting ones limitations is a massive blow to the old ego. Ouch. I sort of think of daring to ask for help like mustering up the courage to jump into a slightly chilly ocean (I am from Norway so I suppose this analogy makes sense). You dip your toe in and shudder. The rest of your foot and squeal. Then you leap in, hands flailing in all directions. As you settle into the temperature and swim about, you feel refreshed and revitalized, with an enormous sense of accomplishment to boot.
Now, I am no saint. I have gotten in some pretty petty arguments with my husband. And I am talking petty. And he has with me. At times it is due to tiredness, others due to pent up frustration with something that happened a while ago. Yet, after our arguments we talk. And we talk. Sometimes too much, but the point is we try an find how we can improve. It’s not easy and sometimes we can’t really find a solution and the arguments continue. The will, however, is there. This will, however, has to be not only for US as a couple to grow together, but for my husband and I to each of us to learn, accept and face certain of our personality quirks that perhaps aren’t the most constructive.
None of us like to face ourselves and accept our wrongs. Pride and ego get in the way and somehow convince us that we are right, justified, that it was not our fault. Unless your are a saint. The truth is admitting to oneself that there are aspects one could change about oneself is not easy. But, instead of seeing these as flaws or “bad” things, one should see them as places where you can grow. No need to shed a negative light on these things and if you make this a positive process you might actually enjoy shedding certain personality traits that have you and your partner fighting and arguing.
Maybe one day we loose the will to talk – maybe one day we fight so much, and are tired, and working hard and raising kids, and cooking dinners, that we just loose the will to be constructive. It happens. In fact I believe it happens to most couples. I cannot foreshadow what will occur in the future (usually) but I hope and imagine that when that shit hits the fan a therapist will come into the picture. You know, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Some people read or hear therapist and shake their head as though defeat has just occurred. As though inner strength is lacking, as though weakness is the cause. But let’s be honest – it’s far more brave to admit that help is needed and far more difficult to dare as a couple (or on one’s own) to acknowledge that this challenge is too large to handle alone.
No matter your situation in life, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It has taken me years to figure that out and I still struggle with it at times. It’s so interesting that so many of the barriers I put up in my mind are nothing more than fictional walls that very easily, with the right conversations and often help come crashing down. It’s liberating, healing and freeing.
I made a vow to myself that all the next arguments I have with my husband should turn into more constructive discussions. That I won’t loose my temper and that I will be honest and open and yes, dare to be vulnerable so that arguments don’t escalate unnecessarily. That I will remember that more often than not things are done with good intentions and that bad communication can taint things terribly wrong. I know I sound very Kumbayah, but this is my growth that I want and need in life and somehow putting myself in the vulnerable position of sending this post out into the void feels right and binding.
Think of it as my letter in a bottle. So, thank you for being my sea.