on conflict (wedded wednesdays guest post)

{We need to get talking about what marriage really looks like. In that spirit, we chat about it here once a week, on Wedded Wednesdays.}

Anne and I met in an elevator in Indianapolis, during the 2012 Influence Conference. Starstruck doesn’t even begin to describe it . . . and I mean me towards Anne, in case there was any doubt. Anne’s way with words, life wisdom and blogging prowess had always amazed me. And then, there she was, in the flesh.

Like I said, starstruck. Rightfully so! Anne, aka “Modern Mrs. Darcy,” is a rockstar in her own right. Her jam? Putting a modern spin on timeless issues. I’m humbled to share her story here today.

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I was 21 when we got married; my husband was 22. We didn’t fight much that first year; we were afraid to. We’d been told conflict was a normal part of marriage, but we didn’t quite believe it.

As we started racking up the anniversaries, we started to fight a little more. For a girl who was desperately afraid of conflict and a boy who wasn’t very good at handling it, that was a good thing.

We slowly learned that the experts were right: marriage has conflict. It’s not good; it’s not bad. It just is. 

conflict - calvin & hobbes

We came to expect it. We learned to work through it. We might even have been a little smug about it.

And then, 10 years in, we had The Fight.

I remember what it was about; it doesn’t matter what it was about. All you need to know is this: we couldn’t work through it.

We disagreed, and though we talked and talked and talked about it, we couldn’t figure it out. We were stuck.

I was beside myself that I couldn’t get him to see things my way. Because I was right, and he was being a jerk. And maybe a little stupid. Because otherwise, he would have agreed with me. Obviously.

What I didn’t know–though I probably should have figured it out by then–is that many conflicts in marriage aren’t solvable.

A week went by. I still thought he was wrong, and I was still mad.

But then I happened to be digging through a box of old papers in our basement, and I found a poem my maid of honor had written for my bridal shower. It’s for my eyes only, but I’ll tell you this: she managed to rhyme “turd” and “absurd,” and she used both words to illustrate our certain behavior in the years to come.

My friend’s silly rhyme broke through the gridlock that a week’s worth of talking couldn’t. And as I sat there laughing, poem in hand, I couldn’t be mad anymore.

That fight we had? We never resolved it. It wasn’t solvable.

Marriage has conflict. It just does. We’re different people; we’re bound to disagree.

And that’s okay.

anne bogel headshot

Anne Bogel loves strong coffee, long books, the social graces, and social media. She puts a timely spin on timeless women’s issues at her blog Modern Mrs Darcy. Follow her on twitter here.

(image via)
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8 thoughts on “on conflict (wedded wednesdays guest post)

  1. So true! I often tell people that I know how to fight and I know how to fight well because I’m married. I mean that in a good way. I know how to have a fight with my husband where, even if we can’t come to a solution, we both still know we love each other and are both in this together. For me, fighting is always better than silence.

    Great post! I love that little things that your husband does/says or a friend says makes the madness melt away.

    • Shannan, thanks so much for sharing this. I love that line — knowing how to fight and how to fight well. That’s such an important distinction. Thanks so much for visiting!

  2. Pingback: On Books, Conflict, and Loosening the Purse Strings.

  3. This is one of the lessons we had to learn last year when we went to marriage counseling. I’d heard before – “would you rather be right or happy?” – but I didn’t buy it. I wanted to be BOTH, darn it! But that approach, much as it still makes sense to me, didn’t work. It ended up making me [occasionally] wrong and [often] miserable. Great post – and a good reminder to me personally! Thank you!

  4. Great point! At my tenth high school reunion, I talked with several people who were divorced already at age 28, and most of them sounded as if they’d simply split up the first time they hit a serious conflict. Some were remarried, and I’ve wondered how (if) that worked out.

    Several years ago when I posted what I’ve learned about conflict resolution, my father-out-law, who is a therapist, emailed me his observation that every couple has one main conflict to which they return again and again because they are never able to resolve it–and if they split up and then one of them finds a new partner, that couple also will have a core conflict; it may be a different one, but it’s still something! That speaks volumes about the inevitability of conflict between people. But of course, the fact that there is some conflict doesn’t mean there isn’t also an overwhelming amount of good stuff in the relationship.

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