Being married for 4 and a half years hardly makes me an authority on relationships but I consider it an achievement that we’ve survived 2 kids and not stabbed each other in the eye, even though there have been times when some severe stabbing seemed imminent.
Now and then, I have people ask me how we’ve managed to not do that – the stabbing, that is. The simple answer is to keep all sharp objects out of reach during epic showdowns.
Of course, there are other steps involved, which I will get to in a minute because we all know how important it is to keep our eyes intact.
You see, over the years, we’ve worked out an arrangement on how to deal with conflict in a mature and efficient manner. Although we’ve only been married for 4 years, we were together as a couple for 6 years prior to that so technically, we’ve had a decade of opportunities to lose either one or both eyes. Like I said, major achievement.
1. Have a conflict management plan.
I know life almost never goes according to plan but it’s still good to have one nonetheless. Our plan has been fine-tuned over an entire decade and it involves clearly communicating how we feel about our disagreements. I do it with a series of telepathic eyeball rolls and strategically-timed audible sighs.
At which point the husband is supposed to respond accordingly with sincere and heartfelt apologies explaining how he takes responsibility for the particular situation. This plan works exactly 6.38% of the time.
2. Have a backup conflict management plan.
In situations when the original plan doesn’t work because the husband says “I’m crazy and unreasonable”, the backup plan kicks in. This is where I throw in several dramatic expressions of angst like forehead-grabbing and much louder sighs. Occasionally, actual words are used to explain how I’ve been in labor for 27 hours and gone through a c-section to birth his children so I get immunity from any blame for the next 250 years.
3. No name calling.
We call each other a variety of endearing names like retard and psychopath during peace time but during arguments, we have a rule about no name calling. Even though he feels like I’ve been a raving lunatic on PMS, he doesn’t say it because that falls under the category of personal attacks. Instead, we focus on issues and feelings so there’s less chance of making it personal.
4. No storming off.
I know certain relationship gurus advocate a cooling off period so both parties can calm down a bit. If that’s required, it must be agreed upon in a civil manner with a specified time frame. Meaning that we’ll stop and say “Ok time out. I can’t talk to you right now, let’s pick this up after an hour.” That usually gives me 60 minutes to go off and sharpen my axe before re-engaging in battle.
In any case, it can’t be one party storming off and hibernating for 3 days.
5. Always go to sleep on the same bed even when we’re mad.
No matter how bad things get, we don’t allow sleeping on the sofa or the guest room or a hotel because being that’s a sign of commitment that we want to work things out. Sometimes, I build a fortress using a whole bunch of pillows and mark my half of the bed with a “KEEP OUT” sign but nobody gets chased out to the dog house. Ever.
If you have any other relationship tips to share, take it to the comments!