Fighting

snot bubbles

by lizzie & isaiah on April 9, 2011 · 16 comments

It started as an obnoxious buzz in my ear. That I wasn’t totally happy, that is.

I was worried that things were getting to be too much, that the major plates of my earth were shifting and unsettling and things were gearing up for unwelcome change.

I tried to talk to Isaiah. Instead, everything I said came out blamey and whiney and I didn’t like those conversations. I wasn’t even saying what I wanted to say. I didn’t know how I felt.

Thursday night our adorable puppy brought a present from the cat’s litterbox into our bed. Yes, a tootsie roll, a non-edible sausage, a turd…into our bed. The tiny crack of emotion I was feeling before burst into a mushroom cloud of a fight. I started out calmly talking. Isaiah got defensive. He called me negative, incapable of being happy…I was crushed.

I left the room for a few minutes to console myself with a cigarette and he followed me. We were both silent. Vinny lay at our feet concerned. I worried he thought we were fighting about him. In a way, we were.

We trudged inside and I collapsed on our bed. The bed that had remnant of litter and a faded off-white spot because of our too-cute-to-do-any-wrong puppy. I stared at Vinny in his eyes and tried to make him understand that I am not that patient of a human.

One stupid tear fell out from the corner of my eye and then another. I was sobbing that fugly cry where you can’t breathe and your head feels like it’s going to explode.

We talked. We made up. Vinny slept between us.

It turns out that feeling, if anyone wanted closure, was feeling unwanted and unimportant. I had family in town and Isaiah perked up when they got there, told all the stories he’s already told me and they laughed and gave his ego a nice boost and all of that. He had semi-flirted with the hostess at the restaurant who just thought he was the funniest guy she’d ever met. He has said before that he’s trying his best but there’s no time and blah blah but he will sacrifice what little free time he has to take care of the poop-eating puppy. In the middle of all of that, I didn’t feel like he was trying anymore with romance, Weight Watchers, job-hunting or just being creative.

When it came down to it, I felt like I exhausted him and others rejuvenated him.

I wanted to be that. The one he was excited about. I didn’t feel like I was.

The scary part was that I could see down the slippery slope that would continue if we didn’t make a change. It was dark and gloomy down there in the land of negativity and exhaustion and the cycle of making each other monsters.

I even asked through snot-bubbles and barely opened eyes, “Do you still want to be with me?”

It’s the first time in four years that I’ve ever asked that question. Maybe I should have brought it up sooner. There’s no point in hiding your feelings from your partner, however dim and hidden they are. Those are the ones that generally explode into that sniveling mess up there for me, at least.

I need to trust more. Trust Isaiah will be able to handle my abstract and poorly-described emotions. Trust he’ll be there to help me sort it all out. Trust that I’m his person.

How about you, did your dissatisfaction come anywhere near a close this week? (Those of you who said you were feeling that way).

Image: Photographer Viola Cangi could move mountains with her photos, I swear. Check through her Flickr stream here or see her work on PhotoDonuts.

{ 16 comments }

ooh. war. what is it good for?

by lizzie & isaiah on January 5, 2011 · 21 comments

beavis and butthead fighting via hate trackers on love your way design and wedding blog

image via hate trackers

There’s been a divorce in my family. It was fugly.

It has Isaiah and I talking a lot about what we do that works and what could, potentially, be an obstacle down the road for us. We are planning on doing pre-marital counseling soon, but we have always had completely open lines of communication.

I believe fighting is absolutely necessary. The couple who doesn’t fight (in my humble opinion) is a couple who has many things they’re not discussing and airing out.

We fight.

I believe we fight well. There are some ground rules we established after our first fight. We only had to hurt each other once to decide we never wanted to make each other feel that way again.

We break them from time to time. We are two hot-headed Chicagoans with particularly awesome sounding fuck you’s – no-no-no..fuck YOU’s. For the most part, we stick to the rules and fight within them.

Absolutely No Characterization

My mom recently read a book with an excerpt written by a marriage counselor that said the two most common things that were evident in couples that were divorced within five years were: Blaming and characterization. That was a longer sentence than it needed to be, but you see….I forgot the name of the book.

Characterization is saying, “You are _________” instead of “You do __________.”

We stopped doing this by eliminating “always” and “never” from our fights. Saying “You always forget” leaves the other person with an immediate defense of, “No I don’t always forget…Is that what you think of me?”

We keep our fights to things we have done that the other didn’t like…things we want to work on together. It helps.

No Fight is A “Or We’re Breaking Up” Fight

We establish immediately that no fight is about “the state of us.”

Keep the Partnership, Even in a Fight

We try to make sure we’re still on each other’s side…the side of working through something together…and not standing across a ring from one another, boxing gloves laced and what not.

Race to the Apology

We’re both eager to say we’re sorry when we know we f*cked up (I’ve reached my quota for the post, I believe). Neither of us ever has to beg the other to apologize for what they’ve done.

Physical Contact

Not the hitting kind. We try to hold hands or stay physically close to each other while we fight so the ice is broken immediately. Simple and obvious and stupid, I’m sure, but it works for us.

Letting Go

I am especially guilty of breaking this rule. My mind automatically saves hurt in filing cabinets, neatly categorized. Each time something links together with a past experience, I feel like it’s happened more often than it has. I exaggerate the pain I’m feeling so he really gets the gravity of the situation. He calls my bluff and realizes that I’m stacking experiences to make it seem more weighty.

This is a recent lesson I learned. Once you exaggerate a situation beyond the norm and make a bigger deal than it is…you’ve kind of lost rights to the original issue. While you’re apologizing for exaggerating, it feels like you should still be able to say, “But I’m still upset over this first thing.” Really, you should just let it go. Don’t “wait” for it to happen again. Stop looking for easily categorized actions from your love…Stop expecting disappointment. Err on the side of giving them more credit than they deserve…after all, this is your person.

It Doesn’t Seem Fair to Take Information Given at Close Range for the Gag and the Bound and the Ammunition Round

I love Fiona Apple, by the way. Her song, “Not About Love” is one of my favorites. This lyric, especially.

You know your spouse/fiance/boy/girl/love better than anyone, right? I know that I could walk up to Isaiah and say one sentence that would have him in tears. He could do the same.

If you want to ruin your relationship really quickly and create an environment of hostility instead of one of intimacy…go ahead and use that confidential information. If you want to live happily ever after, never use information you learned from vulnerability and openness against each other. That father issue you have, the abandonment issues you share and his fear of insert-something-masculine-and-manly here are yours to expose. They’re also yours to keep and cherish and protect to save each other just-shy-of-unbearable-pain.

In summary.

We are no experts on fighting. All of these things just come from a genuine care for your love’s feelings and heart and not wanting to be the one who breaks it. We don’t look to lash out. We don’t look to get even. We only fight to air out differences and move onward and upward, together. It’s always together.

What advice do you have for fighting? Any qualms with what we’ve shared?

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hey…that’s not love, that’s narcissism!

by lizzie & isaiah on December 7, 2010 · 17 comments

narcissist drawing - blog on divorce

“Narcissist” by SneeFree

We’ve been talking semi-ambiguously about a recent divorce in our family. Eventually, we will be able to talk about it more, but for now, not so much. What I can say is that the person driving the divorce is acting like a full-blown narcissist. (I only say acting because I’m not a medical doctor…someone should diagnose it though..)

But if it looks like a narcissist, smells like a narcissist…sounds like a narcissist…

You get my drift.

The love of a narcissist comes from how their partner makes them feel. They don’t love people for who they are, don’t have any interest in getting to know who they are and can’t be bothered to try.

The problem with that? Inevitably, when the thick-and-even-thicker point of the marriage comes along, you don’t feel like such a champion everyday. You can’t base your love off of how someone makes you feel. That’s part of it. You wouldn’t want to be with someone you loved completely that made you feel like a lumpy potato. But, there has to be an even greater part of that love that comes from who that person is. Even the part you love that makes you feel good evolves into a quality you love in them: Their ability to love and see you.

Personal experience, qualities of the love of a narcissist:

  • They only have their best interests at heart.
  • Manipulate situations to get what they want.
  • When they fight, they remember every wrong that’s ever been done to them.
  • When they’re hurting, you have to hurt too.

The confusing part: I have a great amount of affection/care in my heart for this person still. I can’t believe the things he is doing and saying. But I don’t have a hard time picturing him saying/doing them.

The point: Examine the way you love people in your lives. Are you only looking for what they give you? I hope not. I hope even more that you’re not one of those people who loves selflessly and is marrying/married to/dating a selfish person. It can be incredibly hurtful and damaging to love someone who is incapable of loving you back the way you deserve.

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Monsters

by lizzie & isaiah on November 20, 2010 · 13 comments

Image via

I hope all of us here hate divorce. So I’m not going to say something blatantly obvious like, “I hate divorce.”

We’re all on the same page, right?

Moving on. I never like seeing people around me getting divorced for any reason. However, by the time it gets to that point, it’s often “time,” in an unfortunately real way. By the time you’re in that position, there’s very little anyone can do to “save” the marriage, because they haven’t put time and care and attention into it for a long time.

I’m a firm believer that when two people get divorced, it’s most likely because one or both people failed to put the marriage first. Boil down the most complicated divorces, and that’s often at the root of it all.

Many of the divorces that have happened around me have very complex issues (addiction, for one). About a year ago, Isaiah’s parents decided to get divorced. It was the strangest thing. After being together 27 years, they couldn’t stand to be around each other any more. It blew my mind. A divorce that didn’t involve addiction or abuse was something I had never experienced. To me, they were getting divorced for “no reason.”

Isaiah’s mom explained something to me that I had never seen…but lately, have seen more and more. It’s the idea that people have the capability to turn each other into monsters. In Isaiah’s parents’ case, one of them has a tendency to be pushier and the other has a tendency to be lazier. The lazier one is, the pushier the other gets. The cycle continues until you hear yourself say something out loud that makes you sick.

People can become entirely different people in the wrong marriage.

Someone who loves to have fun and be laid-back that has to push and push another person to get something done ends up giving away tiny pieces of themselves and is forced into a position they don’t want to be in.

Anyways, this is all just background to tell you this.

Isaiah and I decide on a daily basis to talk, to improve and to be conscious of our relationship. This isn’t as dull or draining as it sounds. Sometimes it’s less deliberate than others and comes up if one of us is feeling pressured to change in a negative way. Others it’s in conversations about the future and who we want to be. The point of it all, if I haven’t lost you already, is to keep in mind the dangers of being complacent in a relationship.

Even just knowing that those things are out there is enough, sometimes, to keep you from falling into common potholes. Although there’s no guaranteed way to “beat” divorce, in my opinion, all you can do is be sure to know the person you’re marrying as well as we can, be deliberate in our relationships so their pitfalls don’t sneak up below us and be thoughtful of the other person’s needs and goals.

The waters are rough out there…but we can do plenty of things to be prepared to face them.


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We Are All Sensitive People

October 16, 2010

No one gets married hoping for divorce. We’re all convinced that there’s something different about our relationships…that we have what it takes to make it work. We have to…with an intimidating average divorce rate of about 40%…how could we not? We want to get married, don’t we? We don’t want to get divorced. None of [...]

23 comments you know you wanna read more..