UNFAITHFUL WIFE: We are currently in a program through Affair Recovery that involves a regularly scheduled conference call with other couples who are also recovering from infidelity. Before the call we each do a homework assignment and watch a video in preparation. The most recent lesson was title “Why We Fight.” We couldn’t actually read or watch the lesson because we were in China, and the site was blocked. The gist of it, though, was that fighting is necessary in a relationship. It’s an unpleasantness we have to endure in order to become close. In our case, though, I’m more concerned about why we don’t fight.
My husband and I never fight. Not when we were dating. Not when we were newlyweds. Not now. We just don’t. We are both very independent, introspective, passive people. We are not confrontational in anything, including our relationship. Most of the time, we just don’t have anything to fight about. But sometimes one of us is upset about something and doesn’t bring it up. That is a problem. It’s a problem I’ve been thinking about. I don’t have the answer, but I do have some insights.
I hate fighting with my husband. I don’t mean that in the cutesy way that newlyweds say it like, “I hate when we fight because it’s like I don’t have my best friend.” Nope. I hate fighting with my husband because I always lose. He is a very calm and collected person. Always. Even when he found out that I had cheated on. He didn’t yell or scream or throw things or lose his temper at all. I am not like that. I wouldn’t say that I am overly emotional, but I do tend to get upset when conflict arises. I do cry and raise my voice. I do say things that are completely nonsensical.
The last time we fought was a few months ago. We were in Australia. We had an extra day that we didn’t know what to do with. I suggested we take the ferry out to see the harbor. So we did. We landed at Manly Beach with no idea what to do. I suggested we check out the market that was going on that day. So we did. This all sounds great, right? Well, not for me. This is one of the ongoing struggles we have. I often feel like I am dragging my husband along. Like he doesn’t really want to do any of these things. So, with all of that therapy on my mind, I decided to say something this time.
I told my husband how I was feeling. I realize how mundane that sounds, but it is kind of a new concept for me. Of course I tell him how I’m feeling when big problems come up, but for something small like this, in the past I wouldn’t have said anything. Because it sounds ridiculous.
“Honey, I’m upset because you are going along with everything I suggest doing.”
This is essentially what we spent the day arguing about. If anyone has stupider arguments, I would honestly love to hear them. It would make me feel better about myself.
We wandered around the Manly Beach market talking in stern, sometimes raised voices. I cried. He didn’t cry. In the end, though, I felt like we came to a resolution. He understood what I was saying (even if it was silly), and I understood that he honestly doesn’t have a preference on most things. This is still hard for me to wrap my head around, but I’m trying. In the end I agreed to remember that, and he agreed to make sure to share his opinions on my suggestions, even if they were just tiny inklings of opinions. When we boarded the return ferry to Sydney, I was feeling so much better. We had communicated!
Just before splitting up to use the restrooms at Sydney Harbor, I hugged him and thanked him for listening to me. I told him that I felt closer to him, and that is what I think our group program means when they say that fighting is necessary.
“It’s not fun in the moment,” I said, “but it is necessary to become closer as a couple.”
He responded, “I liked it better when we didn’t fight.”
It was like he had punched me in the gut. Here I was feeling like we were making progress as a couple, when he was feeling like we were better off before. I’m still recovering from that blow. I haven’t started a fight since.