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Monday, January 18, 2016

love through the ages

It hit me the other day, after a heated, feisty argument with dada that our tactics for disagreeing have changed over the years.

You remember that first big spousal fight, right?

I flung myself on the couch, as he stamped off to bed, in our first apartment. I likely had my 8am French class the next morning. But I lay awake, staring at the snow out the window. Devastated. Stressed. Convinced we would never make it.

so young. and yet. the smartest thing i've ever done with my life.
16 years ago...

That's it, I thought.

Real married folks don't fight. Ever.

We are done for.

Too young to get married.

We are both too fiery. Too feisty.

What were we thinking??

And unlike the old adage, we let the sun go down on our wrath, waking up pissy and bitter the next day.

I can't even remember what that fight was about.

But it was real.

And I realize now its because we are both very different people than my parents, my models of relationship. They never yelled at each other. Aside from one time I remember my mom yelling at my dad for letting us have honey on our toast when she had just said no. And I asked my sister, nearly in tears, if they would get a divorce like my friend Christy's parents just did. She said, no. Probably not.


That was their relationship. Calm. Respectful. Quietly disagreeing in the politest of ways. Or at least, hiding any disagreement from us kids. Because they are subdued people. Midwestern to the core. And I don't know if I just inherited the Scottish fire instead of the Scandinavian cool or maybe because I've spent too much time living around the country. But yea, I got the fire. My husband, well, he's pure German. So. There's that. HA. And, as old married folks do, I guess we've rubbed off on each other. I am more prone to vocalize my, er, dissent. He is now more apt to lower his voice and talk calmly than he once was, or than how he was raised (his is the family that has loud heated conversations about say, the local football team's latest draft, that in my family would have constituted voices used only for unpleasant shouting and anger.)

So for me, that first fight was devastating.

But then. We woke up. A new day dawned. We went to our respective occupations. Likely watched a movie that night, cuddled on our old, inherited, orange corduroy couch that weighed hundreds of pounds. And we talked. And it was okay.

us at my parents farm during those crazy law school years...
So yea, we argue. And I realized then, or maybe a few squabbles later, that perfect marital harmony isn't possible without perfect marital partners. I am not perfect. Neither is he. We disagree. And in front of the kids, sometimes. Its not great of us but its inevitable. And, here is my point.

It doesn't change our love.

And what's more, we don't have to agree with someone, to love them, to respect them. In fact, I might go so far as to say that being able to disagree, say so, and move on, is a form of love, in itself. I recognize you and your thoughts. I am not going to dominate what you want out of life. Lets just say our bit and move on, in love.

And yea, we make it a point to talk afterwards to the kids, say after one of those unfortunate Saturday morning errands crabbing at each other about everything episodes. Guys, we are sorry. Sorry for yelling in front of you. Yelling isn't nice, is it? You know we love each other though, right? But, even people who love each other as much as we do don't always agree. And that is okay.

I want them to know that.

To live by that as adults.

That  you can have a differing opinions about important things, or even little things, and still love your partner, and still have a fantastically fabulous relationship. It doesn't have to break you. And you don't have to break who you are to accommodate each other.

The key is, to teach that love overwhelms those differences. That love can recognize each other's preferences, cling to our own, or meet half way if we are so inclined (fine, you can go watch the football game at the sports bar but dammit I am going out for coffee with girlfriends one of these days!)

We can learn to disagree and yet love. What's more, we can respect people in our lives, outside of our family, even if they have differing opinions. Vastly different even. This is what teaches that.

And gooodness, doesnt it seem like we need more of this in the next generation we are raising?? Yes, please. Respect and love but still voice your thoughts to the world. Learn to be okay with someone else having a different opinion than you.

We all know that we as mommies tend to surround ourselves with our own crew.

The crunchy homeschool mamas.

The public school PTA soccer moms.

The working moms.

The work from home moms.

The stay at home moms.

The breastfeeders.

The bottle givers.

So many divisions, just in parenting. Extending it beyond to religions and politics and soon it's easy to find yourself secluded inside a cloister of friends who ALL THINK EXACTLY LIKE YOU.

This isn't the real world.

And it isn't helpful to teach our kids this either.

And also, there is this.

Someday. MAYBE. Far Far in the Distant Future. Our own children MIGHT grow up to (GASP) have a different opinion that us!



And they will.

They will have radically different ideas, at one point or another. Date someone we don't like. Choose a profession that we disagree with. Voice opinions at family gatherings that make us cringe.


And when it does happen, I want my kid to know, that through it all, in it all, perhaps because of it all. I DESPERATELY LOVE THEM.

And, if you haven't noticed. The whole different opinion thing? That is starting now. (Ha. Sarcasm)

The other day, little man says to me. "Mom, I wish you would have informed me you were making spaghetti for dinner. I needed more time to prepare myself. As I've mentioned. MULTIPLE TIMES [he actually said this all] I do not like spaghetti."

I seriously turned away and laughed into my hands.

First of all. Hello, son of a lawyer and otherwise opinionated parents. RIGHT???

Second of all.

Yes. They have opinions. Clearly.


What to do with that? We teach them to express their opinions in a respectful way. (Little man said "hate" first about the offensive spaghetti, to which I said, you probably dont HATE it. Let's say dislike, ok?)

The child who is comfortable arguing (in a respectful way) about bedtime or the movie chosen or the dinner served will be the child who later on feels free to tell me about his friends, what they are up to, what they say that makes him feel uncomfortable, or maybe something his prof said that challenged his faith or his way of thinking.

And this goes for me too, still learning about this whole marriage thing at 16+ years. I'd rather have a husband say he disagrees with my choices or opinions than one who quietly stews, doesn't talk to me, or worse yet, talks to other people about it.

And we have worked on doing it respectfully. Rather than two days of stewing, which was our norm in those early years, or even bitterly hanging on to things as ammunition for later arguments, it now pretty much always ends like this...

"Hey, can you grab that basket of laundry for me?"
"Sure, here."
"Oh, and I'm sorry hon."
"Yea, me too."
"Were you going to go to the store now?"
"Yep, do you have a list?...."

Done. And done. Maybe we've gotten more efficient at arguing. Maybe we are just too distracted and tired. HA. But still. There is no more devastation.

My point?

Keep them talking.


Work on doing it respectfully.

Teach love. That love in family is stronger than different opinions, even the occasional fight.

My family today? We are a giant family. Scattered all over. With many differing opinions on many different things. And you know what? We chat on instant messaging all day long. We love the CRAP out of each other.

Love overwhelms it.

That is what I vote for. An argumentative kid now who later on entrusts me with his life's worries and goings-on. A husband who challenges me in a moment where I need challenging rather than ignoring my less than stellar moments. A sister who texts with a real worry late at night. A world where different opinions make a crazy, beautiful, challenging, interesting, heart-warming, heart-breaking at times place to live.

You know?

But now. It's Monday afternoon. And my children are, of course, quite fittingly, having a heated fight about who gets to have the next iPad turn. Circles within circles I tell ya.

And here is where I sign off. HA HA HA.

Happy weekend mamas! 5-6 WEEKS LEFT OF BABY GROWING. I CAN DO THIS!


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