I remember the days when Casey & I fought like there was no tomorrow. We had no end in sight. No point to our arguments. We would start off about the problem and it would spiral into things that happened months ago. I’d bottle up all of my emotions inside because I wanted to avoid our blown up arguments. But then I’d blow up after that final straw and it would make it ten times worse.
Casey and I had shouting matches. He’d storm out, slam doors, punch walls and was infamously known for throwing his phone at our apartment’s fridge because our bedroom faced the kitchen.
You know how Leo says “Low blow” to Kate in Overboard? Welp….
I was known for being a human Rolodex. I would recount any action or word he had ever said that hurt me and throw it all at him at once.
It was hard to talk about much of anything because Casey wasn’t home much the first years of our marriage. And when we moved, he started a job where he was working 12 hour days. He’d come home exhausted and fall asleep on the couch. So the few nights he managed to stay up later, I’d start bringing up the things that were bothering me. I was always told, “Don’t go to bed angry at each other”. That made me push harder to get things resolved at night. Which, in turn, led him to getting angrier.
Nothing ever got solved. The same arguments always circled back to us.
I wanted him to spend more time with us, help out around the house and communicate with me about what he was doing so I wasn’t left in the dark.
And to this day, those are the same things we argue about.
But our argument style has evolved and things do get resolved better.
The biggest changer was when Casey told me that the reason he stormed out of arguments was because he needed a breather so he wouldn’t say something super hurtful. Understanding that he wasn’t storming out to be rude but to actually save from further damage helped me give him a little space to cool down.
The worst fighting advice I ever received? Don’t ever go to bed angry at each other.
We don’t resolve everything before bed sometimes and it is ok to go to bed still upset. You usually wake up feeling better anyways because you slept on it and were able to sort out some things on your own. Since I struggle with insomnia, I find it helpful to write out a text to Casey, read it, change it to not be so snippy and send it to him. This allows me to get my emotions out so I can sleep while allowing him to read my emotions in a calm way. He has all day to cool down if something I said made him upset. I’ll prompt the talk we need to have that night if he hasn’t explained his side and we work it out.
Gone are the days of beer pouring into the ear….
I have found it helpful to embrace each other when talking about things as well. For example, this weekend, I had planned that Casey & I would oil all our baseboards & doors. It’s a good three hour chore if I do it on my own. I figured we’d spend some time working together since he had a four day weekend and it’d give us both free time to enjoy the Saturday off. I had prepped him since the weekend before so no surprises would be there. I explained how we had this weekend off because I had a pretty big chore list for us the following weekend. That morning, I even reminded him by saying he had 40 minutes to do whatever he wanted while I worked out; then we’d start oiling together.
However, Casey became in a sour mood once the time came to actually oil. Full blown 180 turn in his mood. He was silent, distant, got frustrated easily. The spending time together thing turned into silence amongst each other and it hurt my feelings. Mainly, if you read our love story part 1, for the fact that I always feel like he’ll jump over hoops for everyone else, never saying no. However, if it’s something I ask for it’s a good chance this is what I have to put up with.
After the chore was done, I wrapped him in a bear hug. I looked up at him and said, “Can I tell you something I’m feeling without you getting all upset? I mean, no storming off, eye rolling, rude comments, just hear me out?”
I told him how even if he thought his mood was fine, it wasn’t to me. How it made me feel like he’ll drop everything to go help everyone else but heaven forbid he help me. How I felt unimportant and put on the back burner.
Being in that embrace, looking into his eyes, speaking calmly helped him understand I wasn’t trying to pick him apart. I wanted him to see how I felt while also letting him know that I loved him and was thankful he had helped with the chore.
He joked about eye rolling and although nothing was said other than with a hug, I knew he had heard me. I said my piece, he listened and if it happens again, I’ll be able to point out a specific time I talked to him about it. Instead of just using my “Rolodex” to throw a bunch of times I was hurt.
In the old days, Casey would have said, “I’m just the most awful husband in the world, I guess!” if I tried to talk to him about something. But he was only hearing half of what I was saying because I was saying SO MUCH. He’d hear the bad I put in the beginning , but would be so riled up he’d tune out the rest when I was trying to explain why I felt that way.
Husbands & wives, listen to each other. Do not assume that your spouse is trying to pick you apart or only hear bits and pieces to string together your own conclusion. You need to own up that you make mistakes sometimes and hurt your spouse’s feelings. That your spouse’s feelings are important. You both need to think before you speak, listen with an open mind/heart, and make changes to yourself to better the relationship.
Ooooo. Change. That’s one Casey would always throw at me. “Why don’t you accept me for who I am? Why are you trying to change me?”
Because I knew he was destined for being a better father and a better husband than staying out with friends until 11pm every night, never seeing his daughters and never realizing what kind of relationship we could have had if he was more attentive. I had a lot to change of myself too. I needed to not be so hot-headed. I needed to give him some space and let him wind down after work. I needed to pick my fights.
Because the truth is, once you’re married, you do have to change. It’s not just you anymore. It’s your spouse and children / future children too. There are other lives involved in your actions and decisions now. It is OK to fall once in awhile. Casey and I still do. But we’ve learned that when we fall, we aren’t trying to purposely hurt one another because it’s a rare occurrence. We’ve learned that each other’s feelings matter and we can’t disregard how one another feel just because it makes it easier on us.
Fight with purpose and remember change is good. Change means growth. <3