Fighting between spouses baffles me. When I visit my friends, I sometimes see their parents, whom I know love each other and are dedicated to each other, bickering over petty things. One mom explained to me that she doesn’t like fighting with her husband, but that she does it because making up afterward is sweet.
A friend that I’ve known for over ten years recently told me that she couldn’t comment on my parents because she hadn’t really seen much of their relationship with each other. I asked her if she meant that they never fight, and she said yes. “My parents aren’t on their best behavior around you,” I explained. “They really don’t argue.”
Whenever I try to find a reason for this unique dynamic to the way my parents love each other, all I can find is that they are both totally self-sacrificing for one another. In other homes, a miscommunication about the food being eaten or the vehicle being driven will bring tension between a husband and wife. I’m more likely to hear, “I’m sorry, honey, I’ll do it the way you want,” than, “No, you said it this way earlier” in the discourse between my parents.
There are a couple of things to note here. One is that my parents don’t take advantage of each other. The above statement about being self-sacrificing can be used to hurt your spouse if one parent controls the other because of the submission from the first. The second point is that my parents aren’t merely civil with each other. They really like each other, and often play off of each other in clever banter.
Here’s a generalization that I see all too often: married couples don’t flirt. The way I see it, if I love someone deeply and I’ve chosen to spend the rest of my life with him, we’ll play around, I’ll let him know that I think he’s special. After joking with a friend, I’ll often add, “You know, I think you’re pretty cool. We should be friends.” It’s the same with my parents. They’re married already, but that doesn’t mean that the adventure of getting to know one another is over, much less the enjoyment of each other’s company. They constantly work to make the other person feel special, a habit that never gets monotonous.
My mom tells me this:
Giving in to the other person isn’t always easy. It’s a mutual decision to look for the positive outcome, and choose to avoid unnecessary conflict.
When this simple tip is put into practice, the list of necessary conflict grows incredibly short.