Sunday, April 10, 2011

Rules of Engagement

After 21 years together, Sean and I have argued over much of the major stuff. As our children age, we're sure to have the occasional disagreement, and an annual barn burner over something. But mostly, we're relegated to fighting over stupid shit out of sheer boredom.

There is a general standard operating procedure for such fights:
A. I say something mildly irritating, generally a complaint about something he is or is not doing.
B. He says something completely over the top and usually wrong.
C. I overreact, storm off, slam some things and do a lot of heavy sighing.
D. He apologizes and tries to hug me.
E. I start crying and get a few verbal digs in.
F. He apologizes again and offers to take me out to dinner.
G. I accept, because I am forgiving like that.

THIS IS THE WAY IT WORKS. Those are the rules. So when he breaks the rules, it really throws me off my game.

Last night, I began the engagement according to the rules:
"Hey, can I ask you to do me a favor?"
But before I could even make the complaint, he goes right to item B: "OMG, what? How am I disappointing you? What disgusting thing am I doing? Whatever! You've been an asshole all day!"

At this point I should mention that I had the girls out most of the day, and he and I had barely interacted. This is not to say that I wasn't about to be an asshole, but I really hadn't up until that point.

OK, so he's not playing exactly right, but I know where I'm supposed to go: C. Overreact and storm off. I go upstairs and get Katie to bed and then sit there waiting for him to come up and apologize. Half an hour later, I'm still waiting. Apparently, I'm going to have to make it easy for him. I walk into our bedroom, where he's reading. He gets up and leaves the room.

What the hell? This is totally not how it works! If he wants to play hardball, I'll show him! I pull out the secret weapon - the air mattress.

I make a big show of dragging it through the house, past him, and into the baby's room. Then I huff and puff and slam my way back to the bedroom for a blanket and my pillow. I settle down on the mattress, open my laptop and start typing away furiously on my favorite message board. I'll show him! If he's not going to apologize, then I'm going to abandon my big, king sized bed and sleep on this twin air mattress on the floor! Ha!

It was a poorly conceived plan, but I didn't really think it would come to this. Surely he'll walk through the door any minute to apologize and I can go get back in my bed, self righteous and vindicated . The baby wakes up (because he can smell me if I get within 50 feet of him), so the two of us cozy up on the air mattress. A nursing baby, a laptop and an angry typist on a twin mattress is not an ideal situation. I know I'm being ridiculous. All I have to do is get up and go back to my room.

But to do so would be to admit defeat, and I don't even know what we're fighting about. All I know is that it's imperative that I don't lose.

It was a long night. The baby fell off the mattress twice, and I went overboard once. I woke up stiff and sullen, and spent the first hour of the day ignoring my husband while we got ready for church. Finally, I said to him "Do you want to take separate cars?" and the ridiculous of that statement ended any ill will.

As we sat in the pew before Mass began, he asked "Do you want to bury the hatchet?" and I said "NO! I am going to stay mad all day!" But it's impossible to do so, because he is charming and sweet and it's simply too much work to stay mad. I love him, even when he's wrong. Even when he doesn't play by the rules.

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