My husband and I had a huge fight last month. I spent hours measuring it all out - inside my head - for my blog. I felt it would be important to share - as far as providing insights into a doctor/spouse relationship. But, life became busier and busier, and my blog was pushed even further down my ever-expanding list of priorities.
Lately I have felt a wavering in my dedication to my blog, in my loyalty to my readers. I wondered if I was letting it all slip gradually away. Then one of our close friends said something that reminded me about our huge fight. He said, "My wife and I have discovered that we get along really well now that I work such long hours... that's always been the key to your marriage, right?" His question was sincere. I was caught off guard. I laughed and nodded. Suddenly, I remembered the fight...
Suddenly, I needed to blog.
Prior to our disagreement, my husband had been working long hours. We had hardly seen each other, let alone spoken about anything controversial or even a bit consequential. And then, suddenly, as if a magic wand had been waved and there was a big poof of smoke, we found ourselves together, throwing suitcases into the back of our van and rushing to the airport for a week of vacation under sunnier skies.
My husband insisted we arrive at the airport two and a half hours early - just in case. We did, and then proceeded to walk, with little more than a negligible pause at the security gates, directly to our gate. Then, we waited. All six of us. Together. After what seemed like forever while distracting our kids, our plane finally arrived - 25 minutes late. We boarded the plane and endured a three hour flight unsuccessfully juggling our 17-month old, trying everything imaginable to keep him from crying or tapping the people's heads in front of us. Then, we rented a minivan, crammed our suitcases and car seats in, and drove two hours to our destination.
This is when it happened. We both settled into our comfy minivan chairs and began to let out our pent up bursts of steam, one by one. (I began, of course.) Oh yes. In our exhausted and weary state, we began to talk about all of the consequential details of our personal lives; details that we had been unconsciously tucking away in an envelope in our minds to be brought out when we would actually have time to talk.
Eventually, it was not just me letting out steam, we both gushed our feelings that had been selectively hidden during the past two months. Within only an hour, we had managed to say to each other possibly the most hurtful and inconsiderate things that we could have, (well, I did - my husband has a lot more self restraint than I do). We have only fought like this three other times during our nine and a half years of marriage. It was one of those fights where you can almost separate yourself completely from the scene, and you are screaming at yourself to stop before you say anything else because you sincerely wonder if you can ever repair the damage that you know your words will do. It was worse though - because we were stuck together in a minivan with our children, in the middle of a gorge in the desert. At no point could we say: "I am exhausted. Can we get some sleep and talk more about this in the morning?" (This is the absolute wisest and most vital sentence ever uttered in a marriage relationship. Most often when I awake in the morning I can't even remember what we were arguing about the night before.)
Then, my husband said it: "Maybe you need some time to yourself - a break... Maybe then you will appreciate me more."
I was, for the first time during the trip, totally dumbfounded. I would have laughed if I had not been full of fury. I had been thinking the exact same thing about him. I could not believe that we had to endure the tortuous driving time together full of hurtful exchanges only to discover that we were both simply feeling unappreciated.
We arrived at our destination. As we greeted loved ones with hugs and hellos, I glanced around nervously to see if my husband was driving away in our minivan, or if he was hauling his suitcase into the house along with the others.
He stayed. He could have dropped me off. I would not have blamed him. About 20 minutes later we had a moment alone together. I apologized. He apologized. I assured him of my love and appreciation. Life was right again - and in a way it was even better. Each time we forgive each other, give of ourselves a little more to make each other happier, our love deepens and our dependence on each other grows.
It is easy to experience life together, both tremendously busy, occasionally saying hello and maybe even blowing a kiss. It is even easy to be together on vacation - without the daily demanding stresses and ever-multiplying details. For us it is the transition between those two extremes that requires patience and real effort.
For us it requires loads of love, unselfishness, and most importantly, respect. This will lead to responding, rather than reacting, to requests and criticisms, and eventually arriving at rational and real compromises.
In the future my response to our friend may well remain the same: a simple nod and a smile, but, next time I might also add: "Watch the transitions, be patient, and focus on each other rather than solely on yourselves."