Some people will probably consider this another sign of the overshare and TMI apocalypse, but I love this couple who are documenting their fights on Twitter. Not the details of the fights, but the thing that starts them off, gets them going, and turns into something else.
I'm not going to argue that we don't live in a culture where voyeurism via social media isn't a thing; it's completely a thing. I just don't always think it's a bad thing -- mostly because so many people I know struggle not just with feelings of isolation but also with feelings of failure because they measure themselves against the surface presentation of the people around them.
The intimate glimpses we get of the mundane parts of people's lives on social media is a soothing counter to the idea that everyone else in your age group has their shit together and is living some kind of successful life while you're sitting at home on a Friday night wondering how early is too early to start worrying about childcare costs for kids you don't even have yet.
And, sure, some folks carefully craft their social media image but it seems like more people are Tweeting about the sandwich they just ate than are curating their world travel Twitpics. At least the people I follow. (I love the people I follow. And their enthusiasm for sandwiches.)
Now, I don't know how exactly Claire Meyer and Alan Linic are defining the boundaries of what constitutes a fight. But I love how many of their fights are over what Ed and I would call ridiculous crap -- because sometimes people in a relationship argue over ridiculous crap and it doesn't have to be the end of the world. Or the end of the relationship. I'm sure there are people in relationships who never have any sort of disagreement ever, but I'm not one of those people and seeing other people who aren't those people is strangely comforting.
I have a lot of thoughts on why that is -- a lot of us are raised with the idea of happily ever after, which doesn't including disagreements; a lot of us are raised with the idea that we're messed up and everyone else is normal and perfect; a lot of us are operating without healthy relationship models around us to show us how it can be done. A lot of fictional relationships are simplified -- to the point that one fight becomes the make or break for the entire relationship.
Of course there are topics and boundaries that are dealbreakers. But we don't, in mainstream American culture, seem to place a lot of emphasis on healthy conflict either -- on the idea that, yeah, sometimes people fight and it's not always a big deal. I argue with people all the time. It doesn't mean I don't love and respect those people. It means, generally speaking, that I love and respect them enough to be honest when I disagree instead of just ignoring them.
Seeing other people list the ridiculous crap that they fight over (and the more serious stuff, too) is a potent reminder that relationships -- especially good ones -- take a certain amount of work and willingness to allow other people to be humans rather than robots.
What I think is especially interesting is that these folks repeat topics -- because Ed and I do that and it always makes me feel guilty, like we didn't learn from the last fight.
Our most recurrent fight, really the only one we have because we try to talk about everything before it hits that point, is also the most ridiculous fight: what to have for dinner.
The worst fight Ed and I ever had was not about money. It was about what we were going to eat on a rando Tuesday night. It ended with him storming out of the house (with the dog) and me crying into a pillow in our room.
He had a sandwich. I didn't eat at all. He came home and we talked about how ridiculous it was and we cuddled and whatever. It was very sweet. But it was hardly the first time we'd both insisted the other person needed to pick food because neither of us could come to a decision -- being hungry and tired leaves both of us kind of uninterested in making that choice so it's a bad time indeed when we're both in that state at the same time.
We do TRY to learn from our fights. We make an effort to keep something snackish in the house now, even if it's just a Little Debbie; that way we can eat a little something before we run ourselves off the cliff face into Hangrytown. Odds are good, though, that the next time we get into it, food will somehow be involved.
The thing about that night when we had that terrible fight is that neither of us thought Ed was heading out the door for good, especially over something so simple as what to have for dinner. We both knew we were going to have to resolve the issue somehow, most likely by talking it over when we'd calmed down and weren't being ruled by hunger.
That has never been an unspoken commitment either -- we discussed it back when we were first dating and trying to figure out if we were viable partners. Neither of us were into the kind of drama that comes from not knowing if your partner is going to come back after something absurd has sparked a big scene. Ed is the only person I can imagine being married to because he's the only person I trust to work through stuff with me after we've both cooled off.
Do you have recurrent fights with the important folks in your life? Do you feel like you CAN fight with people without them disappearing from your life? How do you define fight anyway? Because I'm curious now -- I think people have really individual boundaries on that sort of thing.
And what do you think about the fight documentation that Claire Meyer and Alan Linic are doing? (There are some gross folks in comments on that article I linked to, predicting the end of their relationship. I'd really like to avoid that territory because every couple is different. Just as I am sure there are couples who never fight at all -- I just don't know any of them -- there are couples who fight all the time in ways that are comfortable for them. Let's not judge, y'all.)