Sometimes a long term relationship can resemble a Game Show. Every so often we all spin the wheel and either have that fight about spending money... the ongoing trial of toilet paper replacement responsibility and/or who should pick up the mail...how one of us really wants to relocate, or still struggles to see the importance of text notifications when they are late.
Those are our big ones. The topics that bring us to anger. The peace accord never obeyed because a resolution is neither final nor fair. The issues, big and small, which make us yell bad words and sulk.
Money was the latest spin.
The covert smuggling of Target bags into the home (I) and the subsequent silent treatment that read "How the f&*k do you spend 250$ there? Chocolate is not "essential?!!" (He)
"It wasn't on the list"
"Don't micromanage me."
"I'm not, I'm managing our budget!!"
"I know what the budget is!"
"Oh, give me a break. Are you seriously...." and so it goes.
We figure it out. We kiss and make up quickly. We rehash it a week later and expect our Therapist to Referee. It's all very benign and functional and yet ever so predictable, but if we can't make peace with who picks up the mail how does the Middle East have a chance?
When I think about what basic bullshit can bring on a fight after ten years together (in various contexts), it does sometimes make me think of the alternative. Of not knowing. Of having to figure all this stuff out with another person.
The temptation of new and easy appeals to all of us; whether in phone, job, or lover. The illusion is in the expectation. The insistence on a laundry list of qualifications now expected in a partner.
Tinder, Match, et al. have made us very specific about what we require and reject in others. The reality, however, is that we would never meet, much less rub our bodies against anyone, if their transgressions were read before us.
Before you swipe right, I am required to inform you of the following: I have an Asian Massage Fetish, I struggle with sharing my food, I never remember to buy milk, I smoke too much weed, I don't like kids, and I still resent my sister, which makes the Holidays an absolute nightmare for everyone involved.Pass.
Clearly not the way to keep our species alive.
What we are losing is the stuff you find between the darkness: The way porn awakens a passion in you. The cute way he guards his food like a 3rd grader. The practical jokes you get to play on her when she opens the fridge in the morning. The graceful struggle of trying to become a healthier person. The heart opening pain of acceptance. The inside jokes about each other's families that sustain you over dry turkey, year after year.
It is a street fight. I won't ever tell you otherwise. Yet to love and be loved is what we do. What choice do we have? Too many cold nights out in the wilderness demand heat.
Marriage is not
a house or even a tent
it is before that, and colder:
the edge of the forest, the edge
of the desert
the unpainted stairs
at the back where we squat
outside, eating popcorn
the edge of the receding glacier
where painfully and with wonder
at having survived even
we are learning to make fire
by Margaret Atwood