“I was chatting over the phone with a divorced friend. She’d been married for 13 years. From my perspective, I didn’t see any trouble with her marriage. But most of what I saw was through Facebook: photos of them together, smiling, doing couple things.
‘You both seemed fine.’ I said. ‘Were you two fighting behind closed doors, or something?’
I’ll be honest, I was a little shocked by her divorce, but how she responded really took me by surprise. ‘I wish we fought. That would’ve showed investment. We never argued. We were like business partners that weren’t invested enough to argue. Arguing would’ve showed we still cared.’
I didn’t know what to say. I thought about my own parents’ divorce, and how much they argued. But then I thought about the night my father left. He came home and told my mother that he’d been having an affair and that he was leaving. I remember it being church quiet. It was an eerie weighty silence I didn’t understand then, but now, I wonder if it was the sound of giving up.
‘I never, in a million years, would’ve thought that arguing was a good thing,’ I said.
‘I’m sure arguing too much can be bad,’ she said. ‘But for us it was silence. We just weren’t invested enough to fight.’
Mel and I don’t fight all that much. I hate it when we do. I hate it when my wife slams the bedroom door. I hate that our fights are always over something that seems like a big deal at the time, but looking back, it was always something that would’ve been better solved through conversation, like how to get the kids to do their homework, or why we over spent the budget this month. But every time we fight, I wonder if we are doing something wrong, and if this argument is the first step on a long road to divorce.
But now I’m wondering if we are doing something right.
Mel and I argued a lot during our first year. We argued over little things like how to load the dishwasher and big things like being friends with exes. And when I think back on those nights where we went to bed with our backs to each other, I realize that we needed it. We needed to call each other out, and then humble ourselves and change. It was a good thing.
I’m not going to try and put a number on how much a couple should argue. And arguing too much, or if things turn to physical or emotional abuse, that’s a bad thing. But what I can say is that there is something about an argument that shows two people invested enough in a relationship to try and make it work.
So next time you are in an argument with your spouse that ends in compromise and growth, realize that you might be doing something right. Realize that you still love each other enough to make things better.”
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This story was written by Clint Edwards from No Idea What I’m Doing: A Daddy Blog and author of I’m Sorry…Love, Your Husband. His new book can be found here. Follow Clint on Instagram here. Submit your story here, and subscribe to our best love stories here.
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