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Archive for the ‘Fighting with my wife’ Category

The “I hate you!” issue came up at work yesterday.  My co-worker Carlos related this mom-six year old son exchange:

Son:  “I HATE you!”

Mom: “That’s not a very nice thing to say.”

Son:  “I HATE you, PLEASE!”

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Rachel and I are driving down Woodward after seeing District 9.  We’re in the aftermath phase of a three-day fight.  Officially, the fight is over, but we are both still treading carefully, fearing aftershocks.  That’s why the movie date instead of dinner out.  No talking, no trouble.

I notice some paperwork on the dashboard.  A practice schedule.  Hmm, I think, the dashboard is not a good storage place for that schedule.  Where should I put it?

It occurs to me that it would be useful for me to have  drawer dedicated to my use, so I’d know where to find important stuff.  

“Hey,” I say.  “I think I’d like to have a drawer, for just my stuff.”

Rachel suggests that I find a drawer in the basement art room. 

It goes bad from there.  I say I want the easier access that comes with a ground floor location.  But ground floor locations don’t come cheap:  Sure, Rachel says,  I can have a drawer on the first floor.  All I have to do is empty the current contents of a  first floor drawer. 

“But don’t just dump it all on the kitchen table,” Rachel says.  “Find a place for it.”

Obviously, she’s trying to start another fight: why else would she ask me to do something so clearly beyond my capabilities?  Rachel is a place-for everything-and-everything-in-it’s place woman, and I am a “where’d I put my wallet?” man.  I fear that if I try to clear a drawer by, say,  transporting photographs stuffed in one drawer to a cardboard box in the basement art room, I will transgress an organizational system that is clear to Rachel, but invisible to me. 

The drawer issue is unresolved when we pull into the driveway.  I get out and walk across the wet grass to the front door.  Rachel, I notice, stays in the car.  Is she mad?  Calling her friend Jennifer?  I open the front door to the house and let the dogs out of confinement.  I go upstairs and discover that I already have a drawer, in the bedstand next to where I sleep every night.  I poke through the contents.   It’s perfect, and a handy location.  I go back downstairs.  Rachel’s not in the house.  Is she still in the car?  Gone for a solitary walk? 

I walk outside and around to Rachel’s side of the car.  I open the door.  She’s sitting inside.

“What are you doing?” I ask.

“Waiting for you to open my door,” Rachel says.  “We were on a date.”

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dogsuck 001At 6:27 p.m Rachel and I sit down at an outdoor cafe for a much- anticipated date. Alani is with her mom, the boys with their dad. We are giddy with freedom. A young man unpacks his violin nearby and begins to serenade us.

At 6:53 p.m. we are sitting in stony silence. We’d had a fight. The waiter took orders from a hand-holding, romantic couple, and delivered entrees to two sullen adversaries.

We’d eaten at the same cafe a month ago, on a sunny spring day, and had so much fun that I suggested going back. This time, by the time we were seated, a grey overcast had replaced the sunny afternoon sky. A chill had settled in. A mild stench drifted in from the sewer grate in the street.

There was a comment, perhaps innocent, perhaps taken wrong, which prompted a return comment with a little edge to it, which in turn prompted a certain tone, and then . . .whap! whap! whap!

Our argument included exchanges like this:

“When you said [insert incendiary remark], it felt like an attack.”

“I didn’t say [incendiary remark].”

“You certainly did. That’s exactly what you said.”

“What I actually said, was, [slightly toned-down version of incendiary remark].”

“Huh.”

There would be no more hand-holding that evening. After struggling manfully in the face of our sourness, the violin player finally packed up and fled.

We end up sitting in the parking structure, staring ahead, wondering what the hell happened. We had squandered one of the great advantages of second marriages: When the stars are aligned just right, all kids are with their other parent and you get: Date Night.

The fight wasn’t about nothing. It was a bone of contention we’ve been chewing on for awhile. Stepfamiliy life provides plenty of opportunities for discord. We drove home and continued what had by then become a full-fledged Relationship Talk in the driveway, sitting in the dark, for another forty-five minutes. Then in bed. We talked in circles. We resolved nothing.

Finally I said, “We have to stop talking”. I went downstairs to the bookshelf and picked out three books I thought Rachel would like. I walked back upstairs and fanned them out on the bed. “Pick one,” I said. “I’ll read to you.”

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