It goes beyond the fancifully sweet and romantic photos being posted on social media. Of course we all do selective updating of social media, who in the right mind would still be insane enough to still post for cuddly photos during heated arguments when all that’s going through the mind is “Ugh, how irritating can you possibly get”, “Why must you keep getting on my nerves”, “Why can’t you just uphold your own promise” and the angry list goes on.
Relationships aren’t smooth sailing, at all. I bet even when I’m in my 70s, we’ll still have these nerve wrecking fights. It’s not necessarily because what sends me ticking off now will still have the same impact on me eons later. What irks me now may not irk me years later, the opposite will happen — what doesn’t pester me now will pester me when I’m in my 70s. It will be the same for him too.
1 more year and I will be celebrating our 10th year anniversary with hubs and he still manages to piss me off by repeating the same mistake countless times, what great consistency. Tell me how will I, as a 70-year-old woman, be able to tolerate this without arguing?
Sometimes we harp on petty issues, sometimes we let it go because it really doesn’t bother us and we are better off just being the usual lovey dovey couple. Other times, we scream and yell at each other, with him calling me names (idiot) which then provokes me even more because I hate it when he does that and he knows it yet still hasn’t changed this bad habit. Though not as often now, we still occasionally give each other the cold shoulder after a huge argument. In short, we behave nothing like the calm and quaint couple who has been together for half our lives.
We are still the rowdy young couple who quarrels in the crowd alongside Clarke Quay river, the outrageous couple who screams at each other in the car, the fiery couple who parted ways in public because the woman still can’t learn to not walk away and isolate herself during a serious frenzied argument. Yes, all cited examples are true, with the second and third examples true as at 2 weeks ago. Oh man.
Unpleasant scenes like this, some would say it is avoidable, which I agree. We can choose not to argue and calmly talk things out instead. I can choose not to walk away. He can choose to stop his name calling habit. But that’s not the main point. The point is we have to understand that such unpleasant and hurtful moments aren’t abnormal and that it isn’t a sign that perhaps we won’t ever work out. Else, why would we have said ‘Yes’ to each other?
I can’t give my opinions on how to avoid arguments because truthfully speaking, I’m more of a hot-tempered person than hubs is (at least he isn’t to me, most of the times), so I’m the last person who can blatantly boast about how to avoid argument and attain peace and serenity. But I want to share and document what makes this relationship work for us.
1. Don’t sweep things under the carpet in hope that the root of the problem will eventually solve itself.
It won’t. If problem would resolve itself, we’d have scored full marks for all our academic papers, wouldn’t we? Same here. Voice out your unhappiness, argue out both sides of the coin. Only when the problem is striped bare and naked then the resolving process can kick in right? Yes, you don’t want to argue, honestly who wants that? But avoiding an argument suppresses emotions, builds up negativity within, then how can an unhappy you continue to live with another? Eventually you’re just crafting out an unhappy relationship.
2. Don’t start an argument for the sake of it.
Don’t delve into an argument with the competitive mindset that “I just want to win”. I used to be that debater. I just want to prove my point, that’s all. But that’s an imbalanced and toxic relationship where only one person’s voice is heard every single time whereas the other sees no point in speaking out. A couple’s argument should be one that’s constructive and beneficial for the relationship, one that will smooth out the sharp edges that are prodding our hearts, not one which you use as a weapon to inflict more harm onto his/her existing wound.
3. That leads to ‘Always listen’.
Listen, even during an argument. Yes, it is tough trying to keep an open mind and understanding ear when you’re arguing, but always listen even during an argument. It’s true that they may say hurtful things that they don’t mean out of anger. But it’s also true that we voice out what we truly feel when we’re angry because we can’t seem to and perhaps don’t bother to control/conceal our emotions.
4. Don’t measure their sorrow according to your own ruler.
When they put aside their ego to tell you that they are hurt by what you say/do, you don’t get to decide that they aren’t. It is tough as hell to admit that we’re hurt/miserable because our survival instinct always prompts us to guard our weaker side so that the predator will not spot this prey. So laying our weakness on the table for you, that attests we’ve let you into our hearts, trusting that you don’t see us as a prey to be taken advantage of; we’ve let you in to become a part of us.
5. Don’t even be the last person who doubts them.
Never doubt them. You shouldn’t even be the last person to doubt them. We may underestimate how far our genuine support for them will take them but this definitely means more than the taste of success to them. Never let them forget how good and precious it actually feels to have someone who believes in them. Be the anchor to their boat, be the sauce to their satay, be the tea to their pot. Whatever it is, be there for them because we’ve all been through that; we all know how depressing it is to be in it all alone.
6. Let them enjoy time away from you.
Of course you guys should spend quality and enjoyable time together but this is just as crucial. This is an ongoing and long term investment of your relationship. Why? By allowing them to have their own space and time to do things that make them ecstatic, it pumps up their soul, it allows them to attain their own goals, it brushes up their skill sets, it satisfies their own wishes. In short, it makes them more ‘wholesome’ (like a meal) and cultivates an improvised version of them. Then most naturally, a happy being will inject more happiness into the relationship right?
Unless both of you have all the same interests, same close circle of friends, same goals, same skill sets, same hobbies then you guys can stick together happily every second.
7. Never forget the ‘good O times’.
Especially essential during the rough patches of any relationship. I believe that the first evident rough patch of a relationship will be during the first 2-3 years. 2-3 years isn’t a long time frame, but it’s one that’s long enough to get to know a person’s flaws, habits, personalities, then that’s when disagreements begin to surface almost every other day. Then you start to get sick and tired of these arguments that seem to become a routine cycle of your relationship and you start to question if this will ever work out. But even amidst these arguments and rough patches, be it in the first 2-3 years or 20 years down the road, never disregard all the beautiful moments of your relationship.
The below will get very cliché and mushy but it’s true and that’s mainly how we keep our relationship fresh and strong (our close friends will also call it crazy). The bottom line is to allow yourself to be reminded of how much he/she loves you, even the slightest clue.
For me, I get reminded of his love for me by how he peels prawn for me whenever. By how he gets angry when I starve myself because I’m lazy to eat. By how he puts me as priority, ahead of everyone (he took a long time to convince me on this). By how he coaxes me because he knows I’m just throwing tantrum for him to do so. By how he runs in the rain half naked because he gives me his shirt to cover my head. By how he tries every means to get me something that I like even though I hate to see him spend on me. By how he boasts about me and our love story to others. By how he kisses or touches my face when he thinks I’m asleep but I know it.
I can go on and on, the thing is we should always remember these moments of how we even fell in love with this person the first time round so that we can find ourselves falling over and over for the same One.
Like what I’ve told him before “Even when I’m upset at you, I love you, even when I’m angry at you, I love you.” Of course this point isn’t meant to be delusional. When he/she abuses you physically, emotionally, it IS NOT RIGHT for you to remember the good O times and deceive yourself into staying and mending this relationship. You get my drift.
What I’ve documented down for my sake (and hopefully yours), we are still working hard on it because we aren’t the perfect couple, and will never be, cause really, no one is.