|Calvin and Susieby Bill Watterson|
Now we may fuss and we may fight,
But it ain't like that all the time.
I love her. She loves me!
Oh my goodness,
Oh my gawd,
Oh my Ruby Pearl!
-- From Ruby Pearl by the Hackensaw Boys
Fussin', Fightin' and Working It Out
Anke and I are quickly approaching that age where folks ask, what's your secret? Old couples most always answer, never go to sleep mad.
In fact, folks have asked us all along the way. Why? Because we live together pretty much round the clock (a very young friend thought both of our names was Davanke), in itty bitty spaces and build / work on / sail boats. Any one of these can spell deep trouble for a relationship.
We do fuss and we do fight, but it ain't like that all the time.
It doesn't feel like a secret. We just like each other. Okay, we like each other a lot! The rest is easy. But we do have a toolkit.
When we fight, we don't fight hurtful; no blame or tearing down.
We work from good to gooder, and avoid right/wrong, too much/little, good/bad; no disappointment.
We work to get back to talking, rather than fighting;
We work to please both of us; Win-win rather than winner-loser, even for a single round.
We always try to remember we're loved; it never comes in question.
'I' statements help; 'When this happens I feel this or that', rather than 'you make me feel this or that'. 'I feel' this or that rather than 'you are or do this or that'. More accurate and feels better. Takes bite and blame out of expressing or hearing about strong emotions.
Okay, bear with me on this one. We call them false if-thens. They are of the form:
Sounds logical, right? Logical and outrageous! B is totally offensive and unacceptable! A fight ensues.
Most always wrong. The if-then connection is false - A does not imply B. Once that's sorted out, turns out there is no outrage, no offense. Almost always a perfectly acceptable something else that had nothing to do with that connection. No foul, no problem.
Go through enough rounds of offense taken/offense defused, and it becomes clear that those if-thens are suspect in the extreme.
The most untrue if-then of 'em all? If we fuss 'n fight, then we must not love each other. BS. Obviously.
Fussin' and fightin' don't seem inevitable. It feels like something we're growing out of. We learn that the other is never disappointed, that we have their esteem. We learn to give enough slack that connection is easy. We learn that the other always, always, always has our satisfaction and well being at heart. Always.
Oh, yeah. Never go to sleep mad. That old standby is good advice.But if for some reason you have to, table it and make a date to talk it out at the next opportunity.
So kiss and make up!
HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!