Monday, November 05, 2012

A stupid fight

I'm pretty sure 99.9% of Dan's and my arguments are due to poor or lack of communication.  Yesterday we got into the STUPIDEST fight.

To paint the scene:

We talked in the car on the way home from church and I said something along the lines of, "So this afternoon, I'm thinking at some point today a trip to Target or Costco or the grocery store is due, we need some crap.  Yeah, and we definitely need to get going on some laundry, the kids are out of pajamas."

To which Dan said (something like), "Yeah, and I was hoping to get some of that yard work done today that I keep talking about."

So we've cone home, eaten lunch, and Dan is outside doing yard work, I know he keeps talking about the yard work he needs to do before winter up and surprises us all like it sometimes does in November, so all I really know is that he's doing that stuff.  

I have little knowledge as to what specifically needs to be done, how long it will take, and what his expectations are for what gets done today.

As soon as I get the boys down for their naps, I head downstairs, straighten up the kitchen a little from lunch, and then take 25 minutes to pound out a blog post because as we all know, I'm doing that every day this month, and since Gus is napping I know he'll be up late and I won't end up with any kid-free evening time to do much of anything. (Sad face.)

Louie is awake and pissed almost immediately after I've hit publish.  ARRGH!  

Oh well, I try to stay zen, and decide to take Louie and run that errand for that crap we need.  Dan can listen for Gus on the monitor, and he must be nearly done with his yard work by now. 

Or not.  

I get Louie bundled up and we head out, and Dan and I have this conversation as I'm getting Louie in the car and he is working on something in the garage:

Me:  "I'm going to Cub or Target for groceries, and then I was thinking of going to Kohl's to return that shirt we didn't end up using for Louie's Halloween costume."

Dan:  (Says nothing.)

Me:  "Is that okay?  Have you gotten a lot done?  Do you mind waking Gus up at 4:00 if he's not up yet?"

Dan:  "Well, I was hoping to mow the lawn, that's not going to happen now."

Me:  "I had no idea you even had to mow the lawn.  You can still do it, I'll skip Kohl's, I'll try to be quick at Target."

Dan:  "Do whatever you want Alicia.  I don't care, I just was hoping to get all this done today."

Me:  "Would you rather I just didn't go?  I guess I could wait until Gus is up and go with both of them?  I'm just trying to take advantage of the fact that only Louie is awake.  It'd be much easier to just take him."

Dan:  "Whatever.  Go to Kohl's.  I don't care.  Go wherever you want."

Me:  "Are you sure you're not mad?  You seem mad?  Are you sure."

Dan:  "Yes, I don't care.  It's fine."

This is paraphrasing, obviously, and I'm sure my personal bias is influencing the way I'm remembering the conversation.

Admittedly, part of my motivation to run this errand was that I really wanted to get out of the house after we spent all of Saturday getting $hit done at home.  Yeah, we had been at church that morning, but still.  I don't do well being at home too much.  Dan is much more of a homebody, and has much less of a desire to get out of the house just for the sake of getting out of the house 

Anyway, I went to Target.  Skipped Kohl's, knew that was unnecessary and wanted to try to make this trip short and get home around when Gus woke up.  But then got a call from my mom saying she needed a ride home from work.  

I arrived back at home within 50 minutes, truly.

Of course I walked in and Gus is downstairs just having one of his epic "You woke me up and I didn't want to get up and I am going to make you PAY meltdowns."  

And Dan does that thing we all do (or is just Dan and I?) when you're pissed about something.  He won't make eye contact with me and speaks curtly, sort of ignores me.  

I call him out on it, and then we get into a screaming match.  This doesn't happen very often, we're both PISSED.  The details don't matter, who said what doesn't matter, but we were doing this in front of our children.  Like right there in the basement family room, I was holding Louie, Gus was sitting on the couch.  There was swearing and it was an embarrassing display of stubbornness on both of our parts.  

It all boiled down to this:  Dan wanted to complete everything that needs to get done outside, TODAY.  It was going to take a long time.  The two hours he got before he had to go inside and wake up Gus were not enough.  Probably the remaining 40 minutes of daylight he had at that time was not enough.  

He was frustrated because he hates doing that stuff and hates having to spend his Sunday doing it, but even more, he didn't want to have to spend another weekend dealing with it.

I had no idea.  Truly.  

Ugh. If only we had just talked about this.  If only he had just told me, when he went outside, "See you at dinner, woman."  (Just kidding, he would never say that.)

Or, since that communication didn't happen then, it should have happened in the garage when I was leaving.  

Whatever.  Poor communication.  Stupid fight.  And after we both took some space, I went upstairs and made dinner while Dan folded laundry and hung out with the boys downstairs, he actually came up and apologized and we made nice, talked about what went wrong.  

Still, our children had to witness us freaking out on each other, which is just the absolute worst. 

My parents had a good marriage when we were growing up, still do, but of course they fought every once in a while, and they were loud about it.  They had ridiculous fights where my dad would use unnecessarily gross language and my mom would be super stubborn, and then one of them would say, "LEAVE!  I'm not even going to talk to you when you're being like this.  I can't even be around you right now!"  

I haaaaaated when my parents fought like that.  In front of us.  I remember how much anxiety it gave me, I'd go to bed that night praying to God that they didn't get a divorce.  Yelling like that is just terrifying to a child, even though it didn't happen very often, and would always blow over, I was legitimately scared every time that my family was falling apart.
And that's what we did to our kids last night, and I hate that.  I talked to Gus about it, told him that I was sorry that daddy and I were yelling, and that it is never okay to yell like that, but sometimes we argue and that doesn't mean we don't love each other.  

He didn't really respond, I don't know if I got through to him at all, or if he even was feeling nervous about it, but I guess I'm glad I talked to him about it.  And that's all you can do right?  And hope to do better next time?

Stupid stupid stupid fight.  MARITAL COMMUNICATION 101.  Like seriously.  Ugh.  Marriage is hard, no doubt.  

We're guaranteed to not always get it right.   


val said...

Use of time fight.

It's the only thing we've ever really fought about, and now that our baby is eight, it ceased to be an issue a couple years ago.

And Dan bottles stuff up--it's his default setting. Even at two or three years old, yes. I know the curt warning signs that he's frustrated and aggravated, and trying to figure it out while we're still civil.

And it's true the man I'm married to can MAKE ME SO FURIOUS. Dan could tell you how difficult his dad can be when he's in a mood.

And of course I'm just a natural-born Sweetheart. (hah.)

Glad you talked to Gus about it, and sorry it ever happened.

I hate marriage fights too. love you all, Val

Navigating the Mothership said...

We had a doozy of a fight a few Fridays ago. Mostly from just being way too tired after a long week. I'm more like your husband - I withdraw, don't want to talk, shut down. My husband on the other hand, gets ramped up - wants to yell and get into it to burn off some energy. Our mutual reactions sets the other further down their less-than-ideal path. It was a ruined Friday night.

Communication is hard when there isn't time to think straight in our own heads. Let's blame it all on having kids, hm? :)

In the end, sounds like you guys resolved it really well and I think talking to Gus about it was good. My parents never ever fought in front of us, we just saw a lot of cold and weird ignoring-of-each-other behaviors and my sister and I questioned for years if they were just waiting for us to go to college to get divorced. (They didn't.) So I don't think hiding all fights is the answer either. Talking to your kids about how fighting & resolving fights is normal life IS the way to do it. Which you did.

Erin said...

Ugh, hate those fights so much. I've been on both sides - doing the "fine, do whatever you want" passive aggressive bit, and the being snippy and avoiding eye contact but usually I'm the one making Ben talk about things when he'd prefer to just cool off. They are always about something completely dumb too, of course, and revolve around making assumptions about what the other was going to do. We TRY to not fight in front of the kids, but I actually read that if you are going to do it, make sure the kids can also see the resolution of the fight so they know that things can get worked out (or something like that - can't remember where I read that - maybe Nuture Shock?)

Anyway. Sucks to have happened. I hate when I get pissy and then try to explain why I did to Annie and I get the blank stare. Hopefully SOMETHING sinks in, I guess.

Jo said...

I'm so glad you wrote about this (but sorry you had a fight and that the kids had to see it). The fights with my husband always seem to stem from communication issues. My husband is pretty quiet and I think he thinks I know what he's thinking, but I don't... and then we both get frustrated (and I have my communication/power issues of my own). Even if we don't yell in front of Riley I know she is picking up on the tension and that worries me. I agree that it's not healthy to hide all fights from a kid as they are just going to happen and that showing them the resolution is important. I also use this as a sign that we need to learn how to communicate better and just be more mindful of each other. It's usually a trigger for us that we haven't been paying enough attention to each other even if it's watching TV together.

And why does this happen? It seems that we communicate worse now that we have a kid. Is it because we've been together longer or is it the stress (sleep and time deprivation, etc) that happens when you have a kid. I don't know, but you are right - marriage is hard (but worth it).

Freckles said...

Guuuuuuuurl, totally. Pretty much, Aaron and I have totally been there, done that, and I HATE it. It is now my mission to wait until the kids go to bed before I start something with Aaron. When we fight, it's usually me that starts it, because I'm a person that likes to get sh!t out into the open - the sooner its dealt with, the sooner the issue is over with. Aaron is a guy who doesn't want to talk about anything, who usually holds it in until he explodes. I try to only bring up things that really need to be brought up, but I think my lack of sleep and the stress of being a SAHM and Aaron working such long hours makes it hard for me to filter what is worth discussing. Kellen isn't really of the age where I can explain to him what's going on, but I just make comments like "Mommy and Daddy are mad and trying to fix a problem". It's good that you brought it up with Gus and that you recognize it isn't something you should do on a regular basis, but it's normal and healthy to fight every now and then. I don't remember my parents fighting since they got divorced when I was so young, but according to my siblings, it was pretty ugly. I'm rambling here, but thanks for posting this. It's good to know that we're not the only ones who fight ;)

Berbs33 said...

I agree with the others, thanks for posting and sorry it happened but I think it is totally normal in an happy relationship. Frankie and I have had arguments like this more than once and it has happened in front of the kids which always pisses me off more.... which doesn't help the fight. I will say it is nice to hear that offers have these issues as sometimes it seems like everyone else has the perfect marriage and we are doing something very wrong. I do agree that arguments are healthy sometime as long as in the end you can talk it out and make everything okay! Also I give you props for talking to Gus about it, even if he doesn't understand completely I am sure just hearing you talk in a nice calm voice helps him forget the whole incident. Okay I am rambling now, again thanks for sharing and way to stick with blogging everyday, I am very impressed!

Julia said...

So glad you were honest about this. Fights about use of weekend time are so intense and luckily, rare around here. But intense! You are doing a great job as a mom and just being aware of their reactions and their presence says a lot.