Friday, March 4, 2011

Family Friendly Fighting (Optional Title: "I need a medicine ball to throw at my husband, since throwing a baby would hurt the poor child, too."

I have a confession to make.  I am not perfect.  Wait, no, I take that back.  My confession is that I married an imperfect man.  He's close, but it will be a few more years before I've perfected him.  But now, while he's still a work in progress, this causes some problems. Because his imperfections tend to conflict with my perfection, and this means we fight. 

I know, I know.  Those of you who know us are shocked right now and not sure if you want to keep on reading.  You're afraid of losing that image of us as that perfect couple that all couples aspire to be. I understand that, and I admit that it is hard to admit to this "imperfection".  You look at us and think "Wow, they are perfect!  They must never fight!".  And on the outside, we are perfect. We are exceptionally intelligent, cool and attractive-- and the fact that we are an interracial couple automatically elevates our cool and attractive rating (or so I've been told).  We drive silver cars (and only cool people drive silver cars. Boring people drive blue and green and even black cars- I made this point up.).  We have gorgeous children.  (Of course, being bi-racial, they are not only gorgeous- because I've been told repeatedly over the last eight years that all bi-racial children are gorgeous- but they look just like [fill in the name of a famous bi-racial baby or a friend or neighbor's bi-racial baby here].)  And our children are extremely intelligent-- just ask me, and I'll give you proof of this.  And my husband has a great job, and I am a stay-at-home mother for the most part, so we obviously have the ideal life.

And no, I'm not arguing any of this.  I would never want to disavow anyone of this notion, because we are, pretty much, the ideal couple and family.  But, nonetheless, we do, occasionally, fight.  And I must say that over the last few years I've discovered that fighting is not as much fun as it used to be.  Because it used to be a great deal of fun.

Back in the day (pre-kids)- fighting was awesome.  It was stimulating, exciting, and really added spark to a relationship.  Plus, to some extent, it helped work out problems that would otherwise be ignored and potentially infringe on perfection down the road. I admit, I was occasionally known to instigate fights over nothing, but, it's cliche and I hate being cliche, the making up part was always worth the fight. But now, with kids?, fighting is not as fun anymore.

For one thing, you have to whisper-fight.  And whisper-fighting sucks.  How are you supposed to get your point across about what an @$$ your husband is being in a whisper?  [Cue low lights and hushed voices]  "honey... honey... can you hear me?  okay, good.  Anyhow, what you said was really a jerk thing to say.  What?  I said, what you said was a jerk thing to say.  Did you say 'go slow'?  I am going slow... oh, you said 'I know'.  Oh.  I said 'Oh', not 'no'.  Why would I say 'no' when you said 'I know'?  What?  No, I didn't ask you if you wanted juice.  Why would I ask you if you wanted juice?  What sense does that make when we are talking about what you did wrong? I  didn't say... what?  are you kidding?  you don't make any sense.  It's orange febreeze?  What's orange febreeze?"

Plus, cursing in a whisper really defeats the purpose of cursing.  I was raised in a strict no-foul-language-allowed household.  And by foul, I mean my mouth got washed out with soap (literally) for using the word "crap" when I was about thirteen. As a result, I get a very satisfactory and perverse pleasure out of cursing when I'm mad.  And that's very hard to do when you are trying to keep the kids not only from hearing you fight, but from potentially overhearing a very bad word.  So, I tend to make a lot of weird sounds and facial movements that are meant to imply curse words without actually saying them- while whispering. Example:  "ffff....ughghghg... you, you zaaaazzhoooeeouu.  I can't believe you actually fffuuugggg-en said that. I said 'I can't believe you actually fffuugggg-en said that.  Said that!  SAID that!  I can't believe you said that!"  

Yeah, not as much fun.  Nor as much impact.  The other factor of fighting when there are kids in the house is the pretend make-up. When the kids walk in the room when you're at your angriest and you automatically have to pretend that you really love each other at that moment. We've become very good at this.  [cue child walking in the room-- normally to ask for juice]  "you fuuuugg... FUN husband, you!  You want some juice, Mason?  Okay.. here you go.  What are we doing?  Oh, we were just talking about how we want to kiss each other.  See?  MUUUAHH.  Oh, that's gross?  Well, then... just run on back out of here while we continue to kiss.  [exit child]  zaaazzzzhooeeeuuu."  

And for the record, the exciting, cliche "make up sex", well, that sort of goes by the wayside when you have kids, too.  Half the time we're just too exhausted to even think about it, and when we do think about it, the planning of it becomes a little too difficult. "I'm sorry."  "I'm sorry, too".  "I'm turned-on".  "Me, too."  "okay... what time will the kids be in bed?"  "Well, we've got to finish dinner first... what's 'turned on' mean?  Were you listening, Kayton? Oops. Turned on means... uhmmm... happy with each other?  But only when a Mommy and Daddy are happy with each other.  It doesn't apply to you and your friends.   Yes, you may have more spaghetti...  so where were we, honey?  oh yes... well, finish dinner, then family time, then pjs... I think we've got about two more hours until... Mason, get your elbow off the table... two more hours until we can, well, you know..."  Of course, by the time those two hours roll by, well, need I say more?  

Now, JMahl and I don't fight all the time, or even most of the time.  Just sometimes.  And if there's one thing he's learned by being married to me, it's when a fight is brewing. And he's a smart man- not perfect, but smart.  He can sense a fight brewing from the tone of my voice on the phone when he calls to say he's on the way home, and he's learned to diffuse that situation. These are the times he walks in the door with a bottle of wine. He has learned that I can't be angry with him for not picking up milk (especially when I drove by the grocery store four times that day and just never felt like stopping) if he does stop and pick me up a bottle of wine.  One statement that you will never hear come out of my mouth is:  "What do you mean you were too tired to stop and pick up milk?  You had enough energy to stop and pick me up a bottle of wine, didn't you?"  Yes, call me selfish if you must, but the kids *could* drink water at dinner, in a worst case scenario.  And when JMahl can't diffuse a situation (with wine), he turns into a master politician.  In fact, had my husband decided to go into politics, he could quite possibly be under consideration for the next Presidential nomination.  

He's amazing, I must say, at twisting my words, at getting me to say the one thing I swore three minutes before I would never say, and, when all else fails, going into denial mode.  "I didn't say that.  I never did that.  Nope.  Didn't happen. How much have you had to drink?" (or, if it's a morning fight "Have you had your coffee yet?")  This has a tendency to drive me insane, which is when I can no longer keep my voice to a whisper- although I still manage to keep my curse words camouflaged.  [cue screaming]  "ARE YOU FARREEGERING KIDDING ME????"   

But, even in my crazy psychotic screaming, there is still a lesson.  For these are the times (after dinner, after family time, after we've ascertained that there will be no make-up sex) that we are able to tuck our children into bed and explain to them that "Mommy and Daddy fight just like you and [sibling] fight... but we still love each other and always will.  Just like you and [sibling] love each other-- even when you're mad at each other.  And you didn't hear this just now, but when you were up here brushing your teeth, Daddy told me that he was sorry and that he loves me very much and that he was wrong and that I was right and that he is always wrong and I am always right .  Wait, you were eavesdropping and you never heard that?  Well, that's because he whispered it.  Yes. He did.  So, even if you didn't HEAR Daddy say he was sorry and that I'm always right, I want you to know that he IS sorry and that Mommy is always right."    

Because even if you shouldn't fight in front of your kids, it's going to happen.  And while it may not bring the pleasure it once did, at least you are teaching your kids a valuable lesson.  Mommy is always right.

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