­She’s been out now for seven hours without a phone call or anything.

I’m worried, but I’m not worried.  I mean, I know nothing really bad is going to happen, but I’m worried because it’s been seven hours.

More than that, I’m pissed because if she wants to play that game, then fine.  I’m not going to call first.  She needs to call first.

She’s the one that’s out.  And, yes, it takes two people to have an argument, but she’s the one who has always got be right and I have no say in whateverthefuck it is.

It’s okay for her to bring up irrelevant shit, but not me, ever, and it’s only at her convenience do we get to ever talk about it, but fine.

So, yeah, go ahead, go out and have margaritas and I’ll just sit here alone.  Fine.

Fine, fine, fine.

I search the kitchen for tequila and then the fridge for lime and some mix, but there’s nothing.  And I don’t feel like going out.

Instead, my fantasy is my wife comes home and we hash this thing out and fix them, because I don’t like being mad and I don’t like not sleeping next to her, but, fuck- she can ruin a day.

And maybe it’s me, but it’s not all me.

We both need to find a better way of talking to each other. I imagine me saying to her:  “You don’t like how I talk to you, I don’t like how you talk to me, we both do shit that drives one-another up the Goddamn wall, but we have to fix this if we’re going to spend a lot of years together.”

I see myself saying this.

Not placing blame, not taking blame, but making this an equal thing and telling her this in a way that makes sense and makes us talk and figure all of this out.

And then I fantasize that she doesn’t come home tonight and stays over at Deena’s and that when she finally does come the next morning, I’m calm.

I say that I would never not come home.  And she would feel bad.

And I’d say that by not coming home she started on this path that’s a bad path.  That we don’t want to go down this path because it leads to the end.

The end of us.

And no matter how mad I am, I certainly don’t want that. Even though I fantasize about that, too.  I love her and she drives me nuts.  And stupid arguments like this shouldn’t make us want to go down that road.

I don’t want to fight with my wife.

What happens to us humans that when we get into relationships, we need to fight about insignificant things to the point where the fight itself becomes significant?

Anyone who says that relationships should be easy, that they shouldn’t require work, is either a fucking moron, or has never had a real and serious relationship with real and serious feelings and emotions.  Or they’re full of shit and won’t admit how they really feel.

Relationships are work.

They’re a full-time job, and like any full-time job, sometimes we feel like quitting.  But we don’t because this is the best job there is and the benefits are huge.

So sometimes, no matter how much we feel like we’re in a shit hole, we stay because we can climb out and wash off and just enjoy each other’s light.  But finding the light when we ourselves feel dark and dim is difficult.  So I end up in a shit hole because I want it this way, she wants it that way and who fucking cares anyway?

I mean what difference does it make?

None.

Absolutely none, but I want it this way and she wants it that way.  And I don’t want it that way, so I yelled and I screamed and I said that she was bringing old shit up so I began bringing up old shit and that’s how I ended up in a shit hole.

And she ended up going out without me to what is undoubtedly the best Cinco de Mayo party ever in the entire universe for all eternity.

How could she be out celebrating the Fifth of May when, clearly, it didn’t go so well for us?

The fourth of May was fantastic.

Maybe she’s crying on Deena’s shoulder about what an asshole I am.

And I am and for what?  Because I like it this way?  I don’t even really care.  I don’t even really know what we fight about most of the time.  I suppose whatever it is, what’s really going on is that I’m very controlling because the rest of my life feels so out of control.  So it has be her fault, right?

We were supposed to have a nice dinner tonight but instead I have leftover Pad Thai and cold wonton soup with shrimp.

Not a bad dinner, actually, just not one that I’d planned on.

How does she put up with me?  And how do I with her?  Because we work at it.  This is part of the process.  We work and we get through it and we’re good for a while.  Love is hard work.

Love is not loving the person for the things you like about them, it’s loving them despite their faults, and sticking by them no matter what, even when you’re really mad at the insignificant whatever-it-is.

I don’t think I could live a day without her.

If she left or something happened, I don’t know how I’d be able to function.  She is everything to me.  But goddamn, she frustrates the hell out of me and how do I get past all the little things that frustrate the piss out of me? They just build up like a snowball rolling down a hill, and it’s all the little things which become this one big thing and it drives me bananas.

How the fuck do you reconcile that?  It’s like an old one-two.

Love me with the left, bruise me with the right.

That’s a deadly combo.

It can kill relationships.

Just kill them.

But she has to call first.  I always feel like I come around first and this time I want her to.  Which is stupid.  I love her, I should just call.  But, no.  I just want to feel right.  Which is even more stupid.

So I’m alone with the dog and she’s out.  I was supposed to be out, but I’m not.

She’s out and good for her.

And all I can think about is sleeping next to her with the dog at our feet, all warm and happy.  I don’t even know what we were really arguing about.  But we both want to be right and it seems so important to be right.

I just sit on the sofa and the fantasies of being single swim inside my brain.  What would it would be like to be single again?  I like to think that I’d be fucking any chick with a pulse.

I also think about how miserable I’d be, how we would both be so unhappy.  How dating sucks and how lucky we are to have each other, and, if that’s true, what the fuck is wrong with us that we get so mad at each other over nothing.

My Dad likes to say “Do you want be right, or do you want be happy?”

I want to be fucking right!

Just once!

Right or happy.  I really want to be happy.  And I want her to be happy.  I want us both to be happy and not fight about stupid shit.

The thought of being without her scares me.

The dog trots into the room and stands in front of me.  He tilts his head to one side like he’s trying to figure me out.  Good luck, I say.  He inches closer, jumps onto the sofa next to me, and just stares at me.

“What the fuck do you want?  Isn’t it bad enough for me right now?  You’ve got to make me feel like an asshole, too?”

He nudges my hand with his head.  I stroke his furry little head and pet his back and he lays down on my leg.

What the fuck is he doing?

I think it’s got to be one of two things:  He’s either plotting something and trying to distract me with kindness, or maybe he just knows I’m sad and maybe he doesn’t want me to be sad.  He licks my hand and lays his head down on my leg.  I sit on the sofa for an hour just petting him gently.  His fur is soft and he’s warm against me.

I start to cry a little.

It’s a bit off-putting to think that maybe I fucked up so bad that even the dog knows, but he’s here to tell me it’s going to be okay.

And it will because I want it to be, so I will do what it takes to make it right.

“Happy Cinco de Mayo, buddy.”

TAGS: , , , , ,

Jordan Ancel was born and raised in Manhattan, then moved to Los Angeles where he lived for almost sixteen years (and has eaten at The Griddle almost every weekend since it opened), and is now technically homeless having sold all his stuff, rented out his house, and bought a one-way ticket overseas. He is a professional photographer and is currently in New Zealand photographing sheep. Oh, he writes a bit, too.

120 responses to “Cinco de Mayo”

  1. “…we get into relationships, we need to fight about insignificant things to the point where the fight itself becomes significant?”

    So true, so sad. I don’t even know how to explain it.

    • Jordan Ancel says:

      I think what happens is that over time, after all the little things that bother us pile up, when we argue with our partner we argue about everything even though we’re making the fight about one thing.

      And we don’t even care about most of what we argue about. We just want to be right for the sake of being right. And what’s the point of that, really? To reclaim some kind of validation we feel we’ve lost over time.

      But it’s really worthless.

    • jacque says:

      So I’m searching the internet for how to resolve the silent treatment I and my husband are having and found your blog and comments. Passive aggressive fighting is the worst. I’m guilty, he’s guilty and right now, to make me feel bad, he’s working in the yard with a very bad back spasm. I did not ask him to. I’m a nurse. This is his way of punishing me. Knowing that right before our sons graduation he will end up in bed with a worse back condition.
      But nothing really brings on the fights. Today it was over a list of thngs we needed to accomplish and I added that we need to remove and fix or cover up some rotting wood on the outside garage. He went nuts. I don’t think the list was the issue, it was probably something that happened a day before or a few hours before but this is what he chose to blow up at me for.
      Now me? i’m Mrs. Right. Always right. Know it all. You all know me. I can’t be wrong. I try hard to not be the control freak but we often marry our polar opposite so we can be the person- dysfunctional as we may be- that we want to be.

      Anyway- i was looking for answers, found your blog, and wanted to just say- I’m there with you.
      Hope things get better. For now I just have to be shunned for the next couple of days. When he feels like making up I’ll be so mad that I’ll probably tell him to fuck right the hell off.
      And all this to someone I love more than life itself.
      what’s wrong with me?

      • Jordan Ancel says:

        HI Jacque,

        Sorry to hear what’s going on with you and your husband. I’m no professional, but I do know that communication is always better than silence, because no one will ever know what you’re thinking and never will.

        Often the fights we have are unrelated to what’s really bothering us. But letting things build up over time creates a kind of pressure cooker of emotion, which can explode at any random point, over a random and seemingly benign incident.

        I’m not one to give advice. It’s not my place, but my opinion, since you were so kind enough to read my post and leave a thoughtful comment, would be that neither of you have to suffer.

        Starting some kind of dialogue may lead to a resolution and you may actually solve whatever is bothering you both. It’s hard to give up wanting to be right, but like my dad, actually quoting Dr. Phil, would say, “Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?”

        Hopefully, you both choose being happy.

        Good luck, and thank you for reading.

  2. Zara Potts says:

    I’m with David.. this piece rings so true and so sad.

    I think because it is a powerful piece on how a relationship begins to disintegrate and how powerless we are to stop ourselves and each other from going down a path that we know will lead nowhere.
    I think you captured the frustration of this so well.

    Oh yes, relationships are hard work. Painful but joyous. Sad but blissful. Mean but tender.

    They are everything good and bad all at the same time and they bring out the very best and the very worst of us.

    Really loved this piece, Jordan. I’m sorry you ever had to have a shitty Cinco De Mayo.

    • Jordan Ancel says:

      Thanks, Zara.

      The ironic thing is that I never even celebrate Cinco de Mayo. It’s one of those holidays in the states that’s just an excuse to party until you drink to death. It’s kind of ridiculous.

      The point being that it’s an insignificant day, really, but in the context of a big emotional fight, it becomes significant.

      I don’t think we are actually powerless to stop ourselves from going down any particular path. I think it is well within our power that we can, but only if we want to 100%. We end up going down paths because, on some level, subconsciously or not, we want to.

      I believe the disintegration of a relationship happens because on somelevel, we want to be free of it. But that’s just my opinion of course.

      • Zara Potts says:

        Yeah, I agree that the disintegration of a relationship happens because we do want to be free of it – But I also think sometimes we just fall into bad habits and patterns and it’s incredibly difficult to break those patterns.
        But I do think that fighting doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing – it can sometimes simply be an expression of a passionate personality.
        I think as others have mentioned – it’s when you’re not communicating at all that there is something really wrong!

  3. Zara Potts says:

    Oh – and I forgot to say – Dogs make everything okay…

  4. Irene Zion says:

    Jordan,

    You said the magic words:

    Do you want to be happy or do you want to be right?

  5. I’m sort of a champion at making irrational, defeatist remarks that I know I don’t mean as soon as they leave my mouth and then, smartly, never retracting them. We’re all great at creating shitholes for ourselves and it’s a small miracle that more often than not, relationships pull out of them. Thanks for your insights.

    • Jordan Ancel says:

      It’s so true. We always know the moment we say something whether or not it will have impact. I think that it is a small miracle that relationships survive and pull out of the shit holes they may be in, but at what point do we realize that we’ve spent the majority of our relationship in the stink?

      And do we ever learn better? I like to think so. Either way it goes, we learn for the better.

      Thanks, Nathaniel.

  6. Amanda says:

    When a relationship I’d spent my entire twenties loving came to an end, my (ex)girlfriend told me, “Maybe we thought things were awesome because we never, ever fought. But probably there were loads of things we could’ve fought about and just squashed down. Loads of things maybe we should’ve fought about, and then we’d have gotten angry enough to fix things and make them work.”

    In other words, never fighting can be a sign, more sure than fighting, that things are tanking. Even though the fighting part isn’t awesome, perhaps it’s a sign of the “awesome” that’s customarily there between you after all.

    • Jordan Ancel says:

      Amanda, your words couldn’t be more true. When my marriage had reached the edge of the abyss, there was a moment when I thought, “What if we just said how we really feel about everything? What if we could actually fix everything?

      But then neither of us said a word, and into the abyss we plummeted. We had spent too long not communicating, and we just became very evasive with each other. We both knew it was over and that it was only a matter of time until it was final.

      When we fought, we would make up and work it out and have great sex and get over it. But that all stopped one day. I can’t even point to why.

  7. Andrew Nonadetti says:

    Oh, how this deserves more thought than I have time for right now. But, oh, how I can’t ignore it until I get that time.

    Eight days ago, I surprised my wife with a card and a single white rose. It was twenty-four years to the day that I first asked her out. In that time, I have considered suicide, divorce, abandonment, infidelity and cryogenic freezing. How we have fought at times! But, echoing Amanda, the truly dangerous times were when we didn’t communicate enough to bother getting angry. When we gave up on each other.

    Sigh. When I can give this the time it deserves, I’ll write more and better. But well-expressed, Jordan. Thank you (kinda) for letting me experience it.

    • Jordan Ancel says:

      Thanks, Anon.

      I think that in every long relationship we fall in and out of love with our partner. We like them, we can’t look at them, we can’t be away from them…

      It’s always a cycle, isn’t it? It’s always that commitment we make to finding our way back to the good place, the honest place, the loving place.

      The year I had gotten engaged, I fell so completely in love with her again, but the year before, I was hoping to get hit by a car.

      Thanks, Anon, for making me realize that cryogenics could have been an option. Too late, now 🙁

  8. Judy Prince says:

    Jordan—-so now you’re telling a love story about you and your dog? Dude!

    Seriously—-no, I mean Really Seriously—-the instant your dog cuddled up to you, I cried AND laughed at the same time. Waterworks and grin-chin!

    Loved your “talking” to yourself about the whole mess and that glorious totally present moment with your dog as your leader and healer.

    So why not start every discussion about Difficult To Talk About things with the stated understanding by both of you that you will NOT add past stuff to the present problematic event you wanna talk about? You could write on an index card: “WE AGREED TO TALK ONLY ABOUT THE PRESENT EVENT”

    Once when my son and his new wife were icily “discussing” things as he drove us to L.A. downtown, thinking I’d be helpful, I leaned forward slightly from my seat in the back, and said gently, “Sometimes when Brett (not real name) and I argued, one of us would say the word “apologize”, and it meant that they were apologizing as well as asking for a return “apologize” word. So we opened the issue of apology without actually saying ‘I apologize’.”

    My son immediately said, “Was that the time you were trying to castrate him with the kitchen knife?”

    We have no control, obviously, over our adult children. ahem……

    My son and his wife celebrate their 10th anniversary (with 6 1/2 yr old twin boys!) in less than a month. As always always always I congratulate him—-and every man—-for having the wisdom to marry the right woman.

    • Becky says:

      Hahahaha, Judy.

      Castration. The next best thing to reconciliation.

      • Judy Prince says:

        I think I see a *Becky Aphorisms* book coming out.

        You might be leaping a bit too far in “Castration’s the next best thing to reconciliation”, but what the hell, we need a screechy kick-arse book.

        How I wish my son had been wrong about that irksome revelation. I’ve never been a “gentle” person. Fortunately for males, they’re extremely good at protecting . . um . . . themselves. And me.

        • Jordan Ancel says:

          Well, Judy, the dog really does understand me like no one else.

          My wife and I had gone to counseling to “learn to communicate” better. We tried agreing on only arguing about the issue at hand, but then it comically deteriorated into bringing up all the other times we agreed to discuss only what we were arguing about previously, and how they failed.

          We did get good at apologizing, though. I mean, when we were still trying to make it work.

          At least she never pulled a knife on me. *Whew!*

          Congrats on your son’s anniversary. That’s quite an accomplishment.

        • Becky says:

          I’ve never threatened with a weapon, but “by God, I will kick your fuckin’ ass all over this neighborhood” might have slipped out in a dramatic moment. Maybe I AM a secret Italian.

          What can I say? He knew what he was getting into. All I can do is try to improve. Also, he may be a saint.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Jordan, there you go again—-I love it when you tickle my laffometer!!!!

          Thank you for your congratulations for my son’s 10th anniversary. He and his wife please me so much. They’re pragmatic realists with huge hearts of affection and love. This mom/gramma is ecstatic about them and their kids.

        • Judy Prince says:

          HOOT! Becky, I’d be more terrified of your threat than a weapon!

          Yeah, quite right that the poor man knew what he was getting when he married you.

          I, too, am in love with a saint, and it’s what keeps us together.

        • Jordan Ancel says:

          @Becky: There are no Saints. We all need a good ass-kickin’ from time to time.

          @Judy: Everything about the dog is true. And there are no Saints, only those who fear the knife.

          😉

        • Judy Prince says:

          OK, Jordan, I believe what you said to Becky—–totally.

          And….I can’t type this without smiling and giggling…..you *might* be right about “there are no Saints, only those who fear the knife.”

          Kinda takes the romance out of all that Sainthood, nah?

        • Judy Prince says:

          Hey, wait—-dogs are a weird aberration of nature. Oh wait—-you know sheep; are they like dogs, i.e., totally nonjudgmental and accepting…..and groveling and subservient and …..

          I wonder if I could tolerate pet hair. Thinking about a cute little beagle.

        • Zara Potts says:

          NO SHEEP JOKES PLEASE!!

        • Jordan Ancel says:

          Dogs are smarter than sheep, Judy. So get a beagle (unless you can’t deal with howling). Plus, your neighbors would be more accepting of a dog.

        • Judy Prince says:

          I definitely need to know more about sheep, Jordan. I wonder why Zara has such an aversion to sheep? 😉

          Dogs being smarter than sheep, that makes sense otherwise we’d have dogsheeps insteada sheepdogs.

          Say good night, Judy.

          Good nite.

        • Zara Potts says:

          No.. I like sheep.. but here in NZ we are outnumbered by them 20:1

          AAAAND we have to put up with the obligatory, inevitable jokes about sheep shagging. Particularly from our lovely cousins -the Australians.

          But yeah, I have nothing against sheep. Especially when they are accompanied by mint sauce.

        • Jordan Ancel says:

          @Judy: Now you have ME rolling! Dogsheeps… HA!

          @Zara: Sheep shagging is no joke. It’s a serious matter, and quite disgusting. Plus, I think the Ausies are just jealous. It’s much harder to make it with a kangaroo.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Yes. It is a very serious matter.
          Very.
          No jokes here. Move along.

        • Andrew Nonadetti says:

          None? Truly? Not even a little “I love ewe” gag?

        • Jordan Ancel says:

          LOL!

          Zara’s just sheepish about the subject.

        • Andrew Nonadetti says:

          She’s such a bleating heart about animals….

        • Becky says:

          “I will kick your fuckin’ ass,” when coming from me with enough terse-lipped, knife-eyed, bony-finger-pointing itnensity, has been known to make men spontaneously bleed out their pores without any contact from me.

          I’m like Firestarter, man.

          Sanctus Dominus.

          And about fearing the knife….

          If you fear it, that just means it has done its job.

        • Becky says:

          Sorry. Did I just ruin the party by going back on topic?

          Canadians shag moose. Except in Alberta, where they shag cows. Like in Texas, but more Canadian, and therefore flouncier.

          Minnesotans have no bad reputation that I know of, besides being exceedingly, deceptively “nice.”

        • Jordan Ancel says:

          Got a little aggression in ya, Becky? It’s all good. Minnesota has the Mall of America. That reputation is bad enough.

        • Becky says:

          I prefer to think of it as a “sleeping dragon” rather than aggression.

          Crouching Snow Leopard.

  9. Matt says:

    Oh, man. During my last major relationship I made a point to try, during fights, to move past the minutea and get at the issues actually driving the fight. Of course, my attempts to do that just became another sticking point to fight over.

    There’s just no escape.

    • Jordan Ancel says:

      I know what you mean, Matt. I have been in many an argument where we fought about every little thing but what we were supposed to be arguing about.

      We were then in, like, ten different arguments at the same time about things that were irrelevant to just about everything.

      Crazy, huh?

  10. TammyAllen says:

    As someone who is in the thick of it, a current divorce with a nine year old child, I can say we both did our own share of avoidance. I wanted to go to therapy but it was over him years before he even told me. 12 years. He hit me and choked me on Thanksgiving day. His tolerance was gone. Mine had been gone for years too. Our child became my charge. Everytime we fought it was the same old thing from him. I would try to push past it but he was adamant. I quit listening. Now I’m staring down the barrel of singledom. It hurts more than all the sexual abuse I survived as a child.

    Get therapy if you can. Talk it out. Don’t drink over it. The end no matter how much you fantasize about it sucks.

  11. TammyAllen says:

    As someone who is in the thick of it, a current divorce with a nine year old child, I can say we both did our own share of avoidance. I wanted to go to therapy but it was over for him years before he even told me. 12 years or marriage – over. He hit me and choked me on Thanksgiving Day. His tolerance was gone. Mine had been gone for years too. Our child became my charge. Every time we fought it was the same old thing from him. I would try to push past it but he was adamant. I quit listening. Now I’m staring down the barrel of singledom. It hurts more than all the sexual abuse I survived as a child.

    Get therapy if you can. Talk it out. Don’t drink over it. The end no matter how much you fantasize about it SUCKS.

    • Gloria says:

      Tammy – I agree and disagree. From my perspective – the ending sucked – as in, the act of ending it. Because that’s even more fucking work than all of the torturous petty arguments and building up of resentments. It’s like trying dig a trench while midgets attack you from all angles. Sure, you’re bigger than them, but it makes the work a lot frickin’ harder. But, for me, the end itself was a blessed thing. A relief. And yes, single parenthood is tough. Sometimes unbearable. But not moreso unbearable than being in that relationship. Less, actually, because I only have me and the kids to worry about. Not the petty, petty, petty, soul-crushing attrition.

      Singledom, too, sucks. But, again, more than what? Less than what?

      I’m no good at encouraging people to stay in relationships. Sometimes that just simply isn’t the right answer. And the feeling this essay describes – of wondering if it should end, if it should continue, if it’s me, if it’s you, what’s the silver bullet… Blech. I’ll have none of that crap ever again.

      I guess what I’m saying is this piece made me feel a lot of emotions I’d put to bed. And quite deftly, too. So, kudos. And good luck. Sincerely, sincerely.

      • Jordan Ancel says:

        @Gloria: Thanks, Gloria. I hope I didn’t stir up too many skeletons for you.

        I agree that the act of ending a relationship can be more difficult than the road leading to it. But while on that road, it feels pretty damn hard.

        The end for me conjured two thoughts simultaneously:

        My life is over and I’m finally free.

        Freedom comes with hardship, but it’s worth it if the suffering cannot be borne any longer, and sometime, the end is a great relief to everyone.

        • Gloria says:

          For me, I had three simultaneous thoughts:

          My life has begun!

          I’m free!

          Oh, shit…

        • Jordan Ancel says:

          HA! Yeah, the “Oh, shit” moment is a good one. What do I do now, right? How do I start my new life?

          That’s a biggie because we’ve been in such a comfortable place for so long, and then we are faced with something new and unknown, which can be scary.

          I do think big change is good. Anything that takes one out of the comfort zone and spins their life in a new direction.

    • Jordan Ancel says:

      Wow, Tammy. I’m sorry to hear that it got physical, which must be absolutely terrifying— when the person you love becomes someone else like that.

      I think once one person checks out, it’s hard to recover, no matter how much you want to save it. Someone once told me that if you’re going to therapy to save a marriage, it’s already over, and that the time to go is way before that point.

      For us it was too late. We tried, but we both kind of checked out. We wanted to save it to honor the fact that we’d been together for ten years, but there was no saving it.

  12. TammyAllen says:

    Sorry that was an accident

  13. Becky says:

    It’s so tough.

    How does a person even talk about relationships without sounding preachy?

    I have a couple of friends whose marriage (to each other) is somewhat on the rocks at the moment. When it started to go south, they would be separate a lot. We used to all hang out together, then it was her more with the girls and him more with the guys…or if they had a fight, neither of them would come out at all.

    I remember early on, before any of us knew how serious the difficulties were, my husband and I were out with a mutual friend couple, and we received word the on-the-rocks couple would not be coming out because they had a fight.

    In what, at the time, seemed to me to be a really horrible and cynical thing to say, I spontaneously turned to my other married couple friends and exclaimed, “Jesus. They had a fight. It happens. Why the fuck can’t they just suck it up and get dressed and come out and ignore each other like the rest of us would?”

    I was trying to be half-funny in a sardonic married-people-joke way, but I was surprised that the other married couple agreed, resolutely, in principle and all seriousness.

    “Every fight can’t be the end of the world.” The married friendwoman said.

    So apparently, maybe, there is some truth in it.

    I think that if you THINK a fight or an issue is the end of the world, it has a greater chance of becoming the end of the world. That has been my experience in my paltry 7 years of marriage. I think how much stock you put in those immediate bad feelings, how much control you let them have over your decisions–even small ones–makes a difference. Like, the fights can become self-fulfilling prophecies, regardless of the seriousness (or pettiness) of their origins.

    • Jordan Ancel says:

      “Jesus. They had a fight. It happens. Why the fuck can’t they just suck it up and get dressed and come out and ignore each other like the rest of us would?”

      Exactly, Becky. Every long-time married couple I know would feel the same way. Which is sad.

      Wouldn’t it be nice if we weren’t resigned and cynical, and that we wouldn’t want to ignore each other? That we could actually communicate so well that we could get through anything?

      No fight should be the end of the world, but fight after fight after fight does build up like plaque on a dog, and the more you let it go, the more chance of rot.

      I agree with you that the fights can become self-fulfilling prophecies. Which is why it’s so important to make up in an honest way— to let the positiveness become fulfilling.

      • Becky says:

        Well, it WOULD be nice. But it is also nice to take things in stride. The the line between being cynical and being realistic is a thin one. Ignoring each other for one night once in a while because you’re on each other’s nerves is not a symptom of dysfunction. The opposite, in my opinion. Calling off your life to sit at home and stew at each other, on the other hand…

        • Jordan Ancel says:

          Oh, I agree, one night here and there is not dysfunction, but when it turns into nights, days, more nights…

          I think there has to be a delicate balance between taking space and sheer avoidance. Everyone needs space, but avoidance turns into something much worse.

        • Becky says:

          Well, what’s the tolerance? I mean, I think it’s different for all couples, but let’s say you’re not fighting constantly, but not too interested in each other for a month straight, maybe with arguments (maybe even one or two big ones) peppered around.

          Is this “a rough patch” or is it “an issue?”

          What about two months? What about a year?

          I’m sort of grateful for this post because the husband and I were talking about it on the way home from a family birthday today, and it reaffirmed that we are on the same page.

          What is a month or 6 months or even a year of trouble in 50 (provided you hope to stay together for 50 years)?

          My husband’s exact words: “Hormones, the barometer, the season, the economy, the events of the day totally unrelated to the relationship can ruin a person’s mood, make them change. So what do you do? You bail because shit gets ugly? You start calling it a mistake? That’s your best friend, if you did it right. What other friend would you do that to?”

          Certainly, there are good reasons to bail. I can’t pretend to know the appropriateness of any one couple’s split.

          But he makes a valid point. Most people would agree that they would fight with any of their close friends if they spent enough time with them. That they would get sick of them from time to time. That they might dislike them for stretches. But they wouldn’t “break up” with them.

          But when it comes to our spouses, we somehow expect this discomfort not to happen. Or, I mean, I get the feeling we do. I know I have expected that.

          Why?

        • Jordan Ancel says:

          Becky, where do I begin?

          First, I am truly touched that this piece moved you to have a discussion about it with your husband, and the you are on the same page. That makes me very happy to hear, p[roving that your bond is strong.

          Second, his point is more than valid, it’s insightful and makes me think. And what I think is, we probably expect more from our spouses/partners than from our friends. When we are disappointed by a spouse, it cuts deeper than if it were a friend (I assume). So we may be less tolerant to how our spouses hurt us rather than our friends because their opinions, in all likelihood, matter more, are more important to us, are how we measure ourselves and our self worth.

          Look, I’m not saying anything we all don’t already know. I really do agree that most stuff people leave over is bullshit. It’s, like, toughen the fuck up and get over it. Not every fight has to be a colossal war.

        • Becky says:

          Part of my cavalier attitude probably has to do with the fact that I am still close friends will all of my major exes.

          I have the friend angle DOWN.

          I mean, it hasn’t been without its awkward moments, but my friend group is comprised mainly of my exes and their wives.

          True story.

          I was also my husband’s best friend and/or roommate for 4 years before we dated.

          So maybe I’m uniquely experienced at seeing relationships (of any type) through awkward times.

          Maybe we have some freak perspective that doesn’t pertain to others.

        • Zara Potts says:

          It’s funny, because I am much more tolerant of my relationships than my friendships. I have much higher expectations of friends than I do partners.
          I expect huge amounts of loyalty and affection in my friendships, but all too often find I am willing to cut my boyfriends waaaay too much slack.
          Maybe I just hold my friends in higher esteem than boyfriends. I don’t know. Maybe it’s because relationships come and go but friendship is forever.

        • Becky says:

          I don’t separate the two very well. Once you’re in, you’re in. Your title may change, but your status never does. I love my friends and I would defend them with my life. I’m like a golden retriever.

        • Zara Potts says:

          You be the retriever.. I’ll be the pointer.

        • Becky says:

          As long as you’re not a Schnauzer, because they shake and pee all over when they get too excited.

          I don’t like schnauzers.

        • Judy Prince says:

          “Hormones, the barometer, the season, the economy, the events of the day totally unrelated to the relationship can ruin a person’s mood, make them change. So what do you do? You bail because shit gets ugly? You start calling it a mistake? That’s your best friend, if you did it right. What other friend would you do that to?”

          Wow, Becky, thank your husband for me—–you’re both fortunate to have one another!

  14. Becky says:

    Also, I want to add–since I have not yammered on enough–that I think one of the single most hurtful lies ever perpetrated on the human (mostly Western) populace is that marriage has to be a lifelong honeymoon full of loving support and warm feelings at all times, or the whole thing is hopelessly broken. No human being could ever possibly live up to expectations like that.

    My own experience, and my sense from others, is that it’s normal that there will be times when spouses don’t even really like each other, let alone feel IN LOVE with each other. The complexity of individuals and the general difficulties of life make it inevitable. But with a solid base in a more constant kind of love, it’s not a problem.

    This has led to a half-joke, half-conflict-decelerator between my husband and me, in times of frustration:

    “Hey. I love you; I don’t have to like you.”

    Paradoxical as it sounds, I find it apt. It takes it load off. Reassuring and honest both at once.

    I mean, maybe it’s specific to our dynamic; I don’t recommend couples randomly trying it out on their spouses, necessarily. But the spirit of the thing is solid, I think.

    • Andrew Nonadetti says:

      Truth [trooth], noun – Becky’s post immediately above: The statement “there will be times when spouses don’t even really like each other, let alone feel IN LOVE with each other… with a solid base in a more constant kind of love, it’s not a problem.” is the absolute, perfectly-put, goddamned truth.

      • Becky says:

        So true you couldn’t even contain your italics.

        You flatter me.

        • Andrew Nonadetti says:

          Well, I was trying to mimic the example entry from Dictionary.com but it seems to work a bit better, visually speaking, with… um… a single five-word sentence instead of a fucking paragraph :). I’m also going to blame being hectic at work for a rare change. And being drunk, just ’cause I like to say that often to scare and confuse the HR folks.

        • Becky says:

          Oh IIIIIIIII see.

          Okay.

          Gotcha.

        • Andrew Nonadetti says:

          You should still be flattered because I still think you were frigging spot-on. And that’s not the scotch talking.

        • Becky says:

          Well, thanks.

          It didn’t come to me easily. We had a near-miss or two early on. What it comes right down to, at the end of the day, is…I can’t think of a non-trite metaphor.

          Bottom line: Shit’s going to suck sometimes. Sometimes pretty hard. Either you’re okay with that, or you’re not. I don’t personally recommend that anyone who is not okay with that get married, but that’s just my opinion.

          I had to let go of some of my perfectionism, some of my preconceived, unrealistic notions of what marriage was…once I decided I was okay with things sucking from time to time, curiously, things started sucking less often. Go figure.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Natch, Becky, I agree with Anon who agrees with you and cannot contain his italics (p’raps bcuz they were not sicilianics).

          I might even go a bit further down the road than saying at times you don’t even like your wedded blissful partner—–more like you LOATHE them. What freaks me out is that when I LOATHE the particular person I love I’m just a millisecond away from totally loving him. Since this particular dynamic has never happened to me in other loveships, I’m awed.

          I’m hoping someone will respond to this: Females are in general more judgemental of others’ behaviours than males are.

        • Becky says:

          Mmmm…not sure about that. I’ve had some pretty judgmental boyfriends in my life.

          Over all, I can’t say. I suppose it is probably the case that the sexes are judgmental about different things, since they tend to find different things important, in an abstract sense.

          I, for one, am not prone to ridiculing friends who don’t know how to fix their own brakes. My husband, on the other hand…

          I think when it comes to marriage, women and girls are still sort of brought up–even if less so now–to judge themselves by the quality of their marriage, the cleanliness of the house, the cut of the lawn…domestic stuff. Efforts to achieve “quality” and portray an image of “togetherness” in these areas as it’s defined by some external thing or ideal can be…difficult. And if she feels like what stands in the way of her achieving this ideal is her husband…then you have a fight about some bullshit, piddling thing.

          The husband’s slow progress on painting the garage door is a mark on her, and therefore an object of resentment, and so on. (I mean, not necessarily, but theoretically speaking.)

          So when it comes to women being judgmental in a marriage or long-term relationship situation, I think at least part of it has to do with the fact that women see themselves as more responsible–or held more accountable–for its success or failure.

          Just a theory.

        • Zara Potts says:

          I completely agree with you, Becky. I think women on the whole do see themselves as more responsible for the success or failure of a relationship.
          This is why I like this piece – It gives me some insight that men actually DO think about this kind of stuff.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Yep, Becky. You nailed it. If the house is a pigsty, the wife-mom’s to blame. If the kids—–oh you name it here—-ANYthing they do or wear or play or say is fodder for mom-blame.

          So, now tell me what things Dad gets blamed for (besides not being able to fix his own brakes which sounds truly weird).

        • Jordan Ancel says:

          @Becky: I think we all start out thinking we’ll be okay with shit happening, and we are. I think over time, though, we get worn down or overwhelmed by the amount of shit we actually have to deal with.

          I agree that there is still an element to women’s self esteem that has to do with the success of their domestic life, and that you may feel more responsible for the success or failure of a relationship/marriage, which is a tremendous burden to carry.

          Both people are equally responsible for a relationship’s success or failure. How we bear it, or what we heap upon ourselves is never what the reality is.

          @Zara: Yes, men think about this stuff all the time. It’s not all Sex and snacks and sleep and sports 😉

          I just think men (most, not all) express it less or not at all because that’s our nature. Millions of years of evolution, we are becoming more sensitive, but it’s still going to take some time before we are on equal emotional ground.

          @Judy: Dad gets blamed for everything. Watch Some Chris Rock HBO specials, and you’ll agree.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Dad gets blamed for everything, yeah, Chris Rocks! Totally rocks!

          In the film, dunno wot title, when he appreciatively reaches for his wife in bed, she says: “It’s not your birthday.”

          I can’t even say it without a goofy full-face grin! HAAAAAA!!!!!!

        • Becky says:

          Judy, Dad gets blamed for moneyless-ness.

          Dad gets blamed if mom and kids don’t have a working car, insurance, etc. Dad gets blamed if the boy children are ill-behaved.

          But mostly, Dad gets blamed for things whose sources are outside.

          Recreation, transportation, etc.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Spot on, Becky, once again.

      • Jordan Ancel says:

        Agreed!

    • Jordan Ancel says:

      I agree with you 100%, Becky. As I commented back to Anon above in his first comment to me:

      I think that in every long relationship we fall in and out of love with our partner. We like them, we can’t look at them, we can’t be away from them…

      It’s always a cycle, isn’t it? It’s always that commitment we make to finding our way back to the good place, the honest place, the loving place.

      The year I had gotten engaged, I fell so completely in love with her again, but the year before, I was hoping to get hit by a car.

      You hit it on the head, Becky.

      • Becky says:

        I can’t even see, for all the comments, what this is in response to, but I will say this:

        Whenever I have questioned the worth of our relationship or what my life might be like without him, I’ve been stopped in my tracks by the realization that I can’t imagine a world in which I don’t come home to him.

        Sappy shit.

        • Jordan Ancel says:

          I believe it was in response (and agreement with) your comment:

          Bottom line: Shit’s going to suck sometimes. Sometimes pretty hard. Either you’re okay with that, or you’re not. I don’t personally recommend that anyone who is not okay with that get married, but that’s just my opinion.

          And it’s not sappy, it’s heartfelt, and wonderful that you feel that way.

        • Becky says:

          Oh. No. It’s sappy.

          And very inconvenient for me and my personality.

  15. Jude says:

    Stay single – less complications!

    Great writing Jordan – love how you allowed us into your head/feelings.

    • Jordan Ancel says:

      Thanks, Jude. Single may be the answer, but then who would we argue with? 😉

      • Andrew Nonadetti says:

        The dogs. They listen better, don’t interrupt, rarely bring up old crap (excluding earlier meals) and are more forgiving, making it easier to admit we were wrong.

        • Jordan Ancel says:

          Trooth, brother. Trooth. They also spend less money on shoes and bags and don’t mind if the toilet seat is up (makes it easier to drink out of).

        • Judy Prince says:

          “(makes it easier to drink out of)”—–You have to quit, Jordan! My face aches!

  16. Lorna says:

    God, I hate fighting with my husband so much that I avoid it like the plague. We speak two different languages and I don’t have the tolerance to learn his. To top it off, I’m stubborn. I do sometimes choose being right over being happy. I think you nailed it though with this sentence:

    How does she put up with me? And how do I with her? Because we work at it. This is part of the process. We work and we get through it and we’re good for a while. Love is hard work.

    Love is indeed hard work.

    • Jordan Ancel says:

      Thanks, Lorna.

      Fighting sucks, but I do think that if you can fight in two different languages, it makes it more fun. Especially if you can’t understand each other during the argument.

      Although, you might want to learn his language, but not tell him, so you can spring it on him when you need to. Build up the arsenal a bit.

      I’m just kidding, of course. The whole deterioration of relationships begins with non-communication. I think arguing is just a way to work things out if it’s got some rules to it, like as mentioned in a previous comment, only working on the issue at hand, not getting personal, mandatory make-up sex…

      I think Love is easy. It’s the moments in between that are hard.

      • Judy Prince says:

        Anon gets 2 points for “I love ewe” and “bleating heart”, but you get a 3-pointer with this, Jordan: “I think arguing is just a way to work things out if it’s got some rules to it, like…… only working on the issue at hand, not getting personal, mandatory make-up sex…” 😉

  17. Lorna says:

    I think love is easy at times, then it is tested and challenged and that is when you truly learn what love is. I fancy this quote by St. Augustine; it sums it up for me pretty well.

    “Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being “in love” which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.”
    -St. Augustine

    Although, I like your idea of learning my husband’s language and storing up the arsenal…….. Nah, that’s not the answer. I think Becky hit it pretty straight with learning to accept that married life is going to suck sometimes. Acceptance of a situation or of a person’s shortcomings could possibly be the best language translator out there.

    • Jordan Ancel says:

      Beautiful quote, Lorna. It’s a perfect depiction.

      And, yes, I agree, that we just have to accept that marriage, or any relationship worth its salt, will suck sometimes.

  18. Aaron Dietz says:

    Wow, this is great–it felt so honest and straightforward. I identified with a lot of it (not that I’ve been married–but relationships, yeah). And you’ve got a sweet dog.

  19. Jordan Ancel says:

    Thanks, Aaron. Hopefully your experiences have left you unscathed.

    And Chauncey (dog) fuckin’ rocks!

  20. Brianna Barcus says:

    How can anyone not relate to this piece?

    We’ve all had those moments in relationships where we’ve be entrapped in an argument, wrapped up its circle where the beginning becomes the end and the end becomes the beginning. Leap frogging on each others words in hopes that ours will be the last and final word, some profound statement of unquestioning truth that makes the other person say “you’re right, what was I thinking?”. It’s hard to not want to be right. And its hard to know when to let go of fighting to be right in order to stop fighting. At what point does the compromise become an unhealthy sacrifice that only builds up over time and causes resentment towards the other person?

    Relationships are about balance.

    As I write this (and I’m not making this up), the couple in the apartment above me are fighting. I hear her crying. It’s muffled due to the inches of ceiling between us, but she’s sobbing. There’s no questioning that. I hear him say “Oh my god, you’re a crazy person!”. Is she? I don’t know. I don’t know them. I can’t hear much else. This is not the first time I’ve heard them fight.

    There’s a pattern there. And it keeps occurring. And I’m the apartment dweller below that perhaps recognizes the pattern more than they do.

    My point…sometimes its hard to see the pattern and the circle when you’re inside of it, and like Jordan stated, we see freedom on the outside by it’s scary. It would be nice if we could both bust through the circle together and come out holding hands and skipping, but sometimes we’re meant to break out of the circle in opposite directions, blow a kiss to each other, and say “I love you, but I’m setting you free”.

    I need to move.

    • Judy Prince says:

      Brianna, I so appreciate your eloquence in revealing hard-won understandings.

      The first of your comment to jump out to me: “Leap frogging on each others words in hopes that ours will be the last and final word, some profound statement of unquestioning truth that makes the other person say “you’re right, what was I thinking?”. It’s hard to not want to be right. And its hard to know when to let go of fighting to be right in order to stop fighting. At what point does the compromise become an unhealthy sacrifice that only builds up over time and causes resentment towards the other person?”

      On its heels, another clincher of observations clearly and compellingly put: “My point…sometimes its hard to see the pattern and the circle when you’re inside of it, and like Jordan stated, we see freedom on the outside by it’s scary. It would be nice if we could both bust through the circle together and come out holding hands and skipping, but sometimes we’re meant to break out of the circle in opposite directions, blow a kiss to each other, and say “I love you, but I’m setting you free”.”

      Yes, I think you need to move, for your own feeling of peace and privacy. Or you could print out your entire comment and slide it under the upstairs neighbours’ door.

      Welcome to TNB, fine writer!

      • Brianna Barcus says:

        Thank you, Judy! I don’t really fancy myself a writer, but am loving reading and responding to all the great, talented TNB contributors’ pieces of work. I have such respect and appreciation for those who are masterful with the pen (or pencil, or keyboard, or touchscreen, or quill). And I love the truth in writings such as Jordan’s and the conversation it invokes.

        And brilliant advice about the upstairs neighbors. I just may do that. 😉

        • Judy Prince says:

          I, too, love the truths, as you say, in TNBers’ writings such as these beautifully presented truths by Jordan, as well as those who comment on them. We love TNB!

          Your having said “fancy” leaves me suspecting an English (UK? Australia?) background.

          Your lucid, elegant, flowing, poetically-figured prose suggests that you’re a practiced writer, whether you’re published or not. Please let us read more of your work, and by all means let us know what your preferences for subjects are, your fascination with certain topics or philosophies. I’d love to know.

          BTW, one time I had had quite enough of the yelling and cursing going on between the couple in the apartment upstairs. It was late at night, but I got up and dressed and went up and rang their bell. I’m now ashamed to admit that when the young man opened his front door to me, I screamed and swore at him, and by implication, all of his family and friends forever and forever. In short, I behaved exactly as he had in disturbing me! Here’s the result: He quieted and said that he would stay quiet—-and the next I knew he had given up drinking alcohol, turned over a virtual new leaf, and he and his wife bought a home nearby! All because of a pissed-off, nosy, obnoxious neighbour. 😉

        • Jordan Ancel says:

          At least you didn’t pull out the kitchen knife, Judy.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Your memory is debilitating, Jordan. You might need a twist or two to the cerebral cortex——and I have just the right surgical instrument for it.

        • Jordan Ancel says:

          Yikes!

    • Jordan Ancel says:

      At what point does the compromise become an unhealthy sacrifice that only builds up over time and causes resentment towards the other person?

      Well put, Brianna.

      I think this is a question we all struggle with during the difficult times of a relationship. Some people have a higher tolerance than others, but at what cost?

      It’s hard to balance personal happiness with the success of a relationship, because compromise is integral in any relationship given that people are different from each other.

      And yes, you need to move.

  21. Simon Smithson says:

    I had, literally, the first true fight I’ve ever had with someone who was even close to being a significant other this time last year.

    I felt she should feel special because it was the first time I’d ever fought with anyone.

    She did not.

    But what I was trying to say was that things between us meant enough to me that problems had to be dealt with – in my opinion, anyway. I wasn’t willing to just let things slide; I wanted to defend them, rather than let rot set in. And sometimes you have to have a fight to blow off that steam, but it’s also important to remember that everyone has their own truth, that sometimes you need to smash the sharp corners off interactions so the two of you fit better together.

    A fight can be healthy, if it moves into growth. When it doesn’t – or when nothing is discussed and the toxins and the venom just keep building up and up and up… bad news.

    • Jordan Ancel says:

      I agree with you, Simon, that arguing can be healthy if it moves toward growth. And through those kinds of arguments, I think over the long-term, people learn to communicate better with each other.

      But it is key to communicate. Otherwise it does, as you say, build up the toxins and the venom.

  22. Brian Eckert says:

    Like Chris Rock says… a man can never beat a woman in an argument because men are handicapped by the need to make sense.

  23. Jeffrey Pillow says:

    Ah, those arguments. It always seems, about halfway in, that you stop and think, Why did we detour down this path from our day? Relationships, marriage — truly is, like you say, a full-time job each must work at daily. When I realized this a few years ago is when I realized I loved my (now) wife. I thought, Wow, that’s the worst argument I’ve ever been in with a girlfriend and I have no desire to break up but instead keep on loving her. Better myself. Better ourselves. Together. Sorry for the last few sentences coming off Hallmark-ish.

    • Jordan Ancel says:

      I have no desire to break up but instead keep on loving her. Better myself. Better ourselves. Together.

      I think it’s so important to work things rather than call it quits, Jeffrey. Anything worth anything is worth fighting for and trying to keep, to get to a better place. Especially when both people want to.

  24. Damn, I am missing you!!! Great article buddy…. you are making me proud- so good to read your stuff in this venue and not just in a 1am e-mail!! I love it!!!!!!! xo

  25. angela says:

    raw and honest piece, jordan.

    my marriage was hard work. i worked at it like crazy. i gave up a lot and tolerated a lot. and it all went in the shitter.

    but i think it went in the shitter BECAUSE i had to work so hard at it. it was the nature of that relationship.

    i don’t think relationships have to be SO hard. my most central relationship growing up – with my mom – was extremely difficult, and so i thought that was how relationships were supposed to be. but now i’m in a relationship that is easy, a positive dream.

    and i think, this is how it should be.

    it’s true we’ve been together just little over two years and we don’t have kids yet, but my previous relationship even before we married was really hard.

    this isn’t to say we haven’t fought or that we haven’t had misunderstandings. plenty of times i want to be right and get into that old “hold a grudge” mode to “win.” but my boyfriend just doesn’t care about winning or being right or any of that. so how can i win if there’s no competition? winning leaves the picture.

    dogs don’t care about right or wrong, winning or losing. they don’t rationalize or try to predict the future or hold grudges over past slights. they just want to love you and get some love back. maybe we could all learn a thing or two from them.

  26. Jordan Ancel says:

    I agree that not all relationships should be so difficult. I think when you find the “right” person, it’s easier.

    It also may be that we need to go through a volatile relationship to get to place where we can just let some of the trivial stuff go and not make it so important.

    My marriage, and the break-up of it, was a huge learning experience (although I’m still learning), and I think that it gave me some real insight on what I hold onto, and how unimportant that stuff really is.

    It’s easy to bear a grudge, but so freeing when we can just let it go. It’s nice when two people can encourage each other to be that way.

    I think dogs do have it down. Eat, sleep, hump, nap, love. Perfect.

    Thanks, Angela.

  27. Larry Bayard says:

    I think Woody Allen has the best take-“A guy walks into a psychiatrist’s office, and upon being asked ‘What seems to be the problem’, he replies ‘My brother-in-law thinks he’s a chicken’. Shrink: ‘Why don’t you have him committed?’ Guy: ‘Well, we need the eggs’.—-Relationships are crazy, but we need the eggs. I’m old. I’ve had many “relationships”, even a 20 year marriage that ended badly. What do I know. But I found out this; If you truly love someone, go belly up. Being right is never, never worth the loss. If one has a profound longing to be ‘right’, get a validating hobby. Do not burden your relationship with such a petty demand. The price in loss of good time is too high. If you simply cannot suffer the acquiescence, Do the honorable thing, and move on. Life may be short, but it’s longer than you think. I am 65 and just found the love of my life. Hope truly does spring eternal, nez pas?

    • Jordan Ancel says:

      I agree that it is more important to give up the need to be right and move on, however, when only one person lets go of that need, an imbalance in the relationship arises. It creates a dynamic where only one person is making concessions, and that is certainly no way to keep a relationship going. No one wants to feel like they are the only one making compromises time after time.

      Giving up being right works when both people can agree to do so and move on.

      Also, 65 is not old! You just found the love of your life, so you’re still young at heart and mind and soul.

      Congrats, Larry, and thank you for your insight.

    • Judy Prince says:

      “If one has a profound longing to be ‘right’, get a validating hobby.” Excellent, Larry. I am memorising it so I can recite it aloud on one of the thousands of occasions I perversely insist upon being right.

      That doctor’s response was a hoot! 😉

  28. Larry Bayard says:

    I liked your story-it kept my attention, and I also saw some of myself in it. I remember asking a doctor once, while he was stitching me up, “Why can’t people just love each other, without this shit.” He just said, “God, I hate drunks”.

  29. Larry Bayard says:

    I have ended many an arguement by simply saying” You may well be right. I’ll have to think about that.” I takes all the heat out of the moment, and there really is not much left to say, unless the other person is simply begging a fight. I’ve also said, “look, I know you. I love you, and this isn’t really like you. What’s really going on.” Of course, this presupposes you’re with a somewhat reasonable partner, but why would it be otherwise. Also, “Where do you want to go with this” invites the ‘burden of proof’ that there really is a problem. There’s always flowers and candy, but they’re most appreciated when not needed. “You cannot truly love someone until you respect thier solitude.” very very important. I hope I’m not being a boor. Your story, well poignant? yeah, poignant. Guy throws a life-ring, and guy in water says “I’m not drowning, I just swim like shit.”

    • Jordan Ancel says:

      Larry, again, you make some excellent points and offer some good strategy to escape a bad situation with your “Burden of Proof” test.

      And yes, one would assume that we choose partners who are reasonable, but there are those times that people become unreasonable during arguments. That’s when things can escalate and spiral out of control. During these kinds of confrontations, it’s easy for one person to incite the other to levels of insanity.

      Insanity, Larry. From reasonable people. That’s bad news. And the more it happens, well, that’s when we must reconsider the cost/benefit fof what we’re dealing with.

      One would hope that it never comes to that, but it does happen, which is unfortunate. Especially after years of investment in making something substantial and meaningful.

      Sometimes too much swimming like shit for way too long leads to drowning.

  30. Richard Ancel says:

    One mistake that need to be corrected. Dr. Phil is the guy who always says: do you want to be right or do you want to be happy? It wasn’t me. I know how you always confused us, but if you think hard about it, you’ll remember I’m the guy with a full head of hair & a clean upper lip; Dr Phil is the guy who’s bald on top & has a full mustache. He’s also the guy with zillions of dollars & is on TV all the time. If you’re still not sure, I’ll have a picture of Dr. Phil next to me next time we skype.

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