Blake and I have been married ten months as of today, which basically makes me an expert in all things marriage. It's been an interesting journey thus far and I'm sure it's going to get that much more interesting as time goes on. Many people say your first year of marriage is the toughest. And I have to agree with that - it has been tough. Not "why-did-we-get-married/did-I-make-a-mistake?" tough. But the kind of tough that makes you realize why you did get married. Because you have the argument and you see your own faults and you realize that this person loves you even in your ugliest moments.
Believe it or not, Blake and get on each others' nerves a lot. It's kinda funny at times, because we love each other so much but we also bug each other to death sometimes. I bug Blake because I am impatient, I want everything (and make it known quite often!), and I ask him to do things that I could easily do for myself. He bugs me because he talks over my head sometimes about history and he acts like he's the co-manager of the Bulls AND he asks me to repeat myself a lot (which I guess I should stop mumbling but STILL).
We also argue more than you think! We have established some rules for fighting that we generally stick to and we end up having productive arguments that don't end in complete ugliness. We usually argue about the things that annoy us about each other, or at least that's what it comes down to in the end. We've only had one or two arguments that were REALLY ugly, so I'd say we're doing pretty well!
These things are the two aspects of marriage I didn't expect to appreciate. Not that I enjoy arguing or annoying each other, but I appreciate those moments that really make me realize that I chose the right person. We always come to some greater understanding of one another and all is well in the end.
So, without further adieu, as our ten-month-aversary gift to you, I bring you Blake & Katie's Ten Rules for Fighting:
1. Focus on the matter at hand: Argue about what you're arguing about. Don't bring up past events and don't try to add new issues into the mix. Stick to the topic or you'll argue for hours.
2. No name calling, insults or cussing: Sounds simple enough, but it's easy to start saying ugly things when you're in the thick of it. Keep your arsenal of insults locked up for road rage.
3. NEVER leave the house. If you need time to chill, ask if it's okay if you take 10: Sometimes Blake and I can go 'round and 'round and 'round an issue and feel like we're both hitting a brick wall. There have been times when one of us has pulled the "I'm leaving!" card and tried to escape the apartment. We've learned this is stupid. If we feel like we're getting nowhere, we need to agree to take a little time-out. Sometimes a few minutes is all it takes to calm down, refocus, and come back with a fresh attitude ready to work through the issue rather than continue to argue about it.
4. No hitting, slamming, or throwing: This should go without saying, but you're not allowed to hit anything (or anyone, for that matter) or slam doors or throw objects. I'm a door-slammer and a stuff-thrower - you would have never thought! :)
5. Keep it quiet: When things get heated, it's easy for voices to get louder and louder. Yelling will only hurt your vocal cords. If you feel like you're going to start yelling, you might need to utilize Rule #3.
6. Keep it private: Do not argue in front of friends, family, or your kids. It's between you and your spouse and it's not meant for public viewing. We also have a rule that we don't really talk about what we've fought about with anyone. We agree that it's okay to talk about silly fights we have - like how Blake and I had a drawn-out fight about a Monopoly game (!!) - and we joked about it with a few friends/family.
7. Don't take it out on each other: Sometimes arguments start because one of us is tired/anxious/overwhelmed/stressed by outside factors. If something external is really what's bothering you, then leave your spouse alone. Go do something relaxing, hide in the bedroom, or take a nap. Let your spouse know what's really bothering you and allow him/her to comfort you instead of letting them add to to the stress.
8. Go to bed angry: A late-night argument is sparked and it looks as though it's not going to get better before bedtime. Instead of trying to duke it out until the wee hours of the morning, just go to bed. Usually, a night's rest will help us put things into perspective and we'll wake up apologizing. I should also add that even if you're angry, you should still sleep in the same bed but I am guilty of sleeping on the couch like a mean girl. Mostly because we have a full sized bed. Maybe if we had a king, I'd still sleep with him when I'm angry!
9. Get to the heart of the matter: "I'm mad because I always have to remind you to do your chores!!!!" Are you really mad that the trash runneth over or are you mad because his forgetfulness sends the message that he expects you to do it (or remind him to do it which could lead to you nagging him to death)? Most of the time when we argue, there has been some sort of external display of an internal issue. Think about how something makes you feel, what message it sends, and how you have been hurt.
10. Four magic words: The best advice we got in marriage counseling was to employ the power of these four words: Will you forgive me? As children we are taught to deliver a reluctant "I'm sorry" which is more like a surface-level band-aid than a soul-soaking medicine. Asking for forgiveness shows vulnerability and an earnest spirit. When you've finally gotten to the point of asking for forgiveness, it's like all the hurt and frustration melts away. And really, both parties should apologize because arguing isn't about one person losing and one person winning - it's about coming to a greater understanding.
We don't always follow all the rules all the time, but keeping the majority of them in mind has really helped us argue better. We work through our issues the best way we know how and we usually find that we love each other more because we learn more about each other. Sounds cheesy, but I hope you can take something away from this - even if you aren't married. These rules work for all relationships and can save you a great deal of heartache... trust me!
Do you have any rules you follow when it comes to fighting? Have you ever had an awfully horrible argument that ended in disaster? Have you ever had a fight about something embarrassing? I want to hear!