The Other 5%

The following is an actual text conversation between Shaun and me last weekend:

Me: I love you.

Him: Why? (Yes, he did really ask that and I did really answer. It’s a thing we do, don’t you judge (but you can go ahead and gag if you feel like you need to).)

Me: Because you still make me laugh and that’s good because the day that you don’t make me laugh anymore is the day that we’ve got problems and I have enough problems without that.

Him: Agreed.

And so this weekend we, naturally, got into a fight.

95% of the time I have the world’s best marriage. 95% of the time I want nothing more than to just hang out with my husband. 95% of the time we are excellent communicators and are both right on top of what’s going on in each other’s lives.

And then there’s the other 5%.

The end of last week we were at 5%. We didn’t actually get into a fight at first, we’re both far too non-confrontational for that. During the 5% we wage a war of attrition in which we spend most of our time “together” ie, in the same house, often in the same room, without ever actually speaking. It’s not that we’re not speaking to one another, we’ll occasionally ask one another questions, ” what’s the PIN for the new bank card?” and we’ll answer one another’s questions, “Pizza.” (Obviously that answer and the question do not go together. Pizza is the answer to “what’s for dinner?” and the answer to the PIN question is none of your business.) But for the most part we’re both circling around waiting for something.

This waiting can, and usually does, go on for a couple very uncomfortable days. We circle one another, feeling the other out and (at least in my case) getting increasingly hurt and angry waiting. I have no idea what Shaun’s waiting for, I’ve never been able to figure that out. I’d think that I would be waiting for an apology but I’m not, I’m waiting for him to ask for an explanation.

It’s weird for me to think about, but it’s true, I don’t want an apology, anyone can apologize. What I want is a chance to explain why I was right to do whatever I did and/or why he was wrong to do what he did myself.

So why don’t I just head in there and start explaining? Well, that would be acknowledging that there’s a problem and I can’t be the first one to do that.

And so we dance around and around and around until one of us, usually me, breaks and the flood gates open and the fight begins. I sometimes like to pretend that there’s not going to be a fight but I’ve been married for far too long to believe that. There’s going to be a fight, or at least what passes for a fight around here.

I have a sister who used to get into shouting matches with her husband. Things would be thrown, walls dented, the whole nine. We don’t do that, never have and I feel fairly comfortable saying we never will, but there will definitely be an uncomfortable, aggressive, and angry discussion. I hate that.

But then it’ll be over and we’ll move on and we’ll be back in the other 95% and I guess it’s worth the 5% to have the other 95% be a good as it is. And it is good, Friday evening, after I finally got sick of the meaningful silence and the quiet hostility we had it out and suddenly, finally we were past it. And all is right with the world again.

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. bythelbs
    Aug 23, 2010 @ 09:03:41

    That’s a lot like how we operate around here. Glad to know it’s not just us.

  2. flipflopmama
    Aug 23, 2010 @ 09:13:58

    We’re like that too. I once heard that arguing in marriage can actually make it stronger. Sometime I think that’s true because if you can solve things and move on then you can make your relationship better. Other times, I don’t really believe that.

  3. Janelle
    Aug 23, 2010 @ 10:30:10

    No throwing, denting, shouting here either. But sometimes I still cross the line with unnecessary meanness. You know what can bug me/inspire me though? My husband never does. He always is in control of what is OK to say and what is not. I can see in his eyes his restraint. Wish I had that.

    I can definitely say that our fights have led to me being a better person after. I do try to make the changes we agree upon.

  4. melanie
    Aug 23, 2010 @ 10:31:39

    Who ever said we used to do that? Its still the mode of operendi over here, we just do it a lot less often.

  5. cheryl
    Aug 23, 2010 @ 11:41:00

    Yep, we’re the same. I don’t think we could ever *not* fight at least a little. I mean, if there’s no disagreeing (or anger or sadness or whatever), then what kind of a sham relationship is that? Of course, in 50 years, I reserve the right to refute myself, but I’m pretty darn sure my grandparents still argue –even though they’d walk through fire for each other…

  6. Kristina P.
    Aug 23, 2010 @ 12:04:38

    I could have written this. We rarely fight. But I am totally the Queen of the Silent Treatment.

  7. LisAway
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 07:21:15

    We “argue” much like you do. However, sometimes our 5% starts slipping into more like 15%. Depending on the level of stress in our lives and a number of other factors I really have to fight to keep that percentage down. It’s hard when I really just want to do EXACTLY as you describe, talk when necessary, maybe sometimes even share anecdotes, but no real talking or enjoying each other. I hate stretches of that kind of communication. I would like to be a much better communicator but I am lazy and immature. And this is WAY TMI for a comment on a blog post so I’ll just end here. . .

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