Recently I discovered another Police blog, Cop Mama. She's been a cop for 15 years and is also the mom to two very small boys. She blogs a little about everything and I've been enjoying reading. A few days ago I read her post, This Is How WE Fight. She posted a conversation she had with her husband via text messages that could've easily escalated into a fight and she shows how her husband used humor to defuse the situation and later when they talked they both agreed that they should use humor more often. She then asked her readers, "what tools have YOU and your spouse found to defuse an argument?"
Humor, for us, is really helpful in dissolving a potential fight. In my opinion, this has always been one of our strengths as a couple. I can think of a few specific examples:
ME: I am so angry with you right now. I really don't want to be, but it's just so easy to be sometimes.
HF: That's why it's so hard being a super hero. The moment you do something human, everyone turns on you.
He always says these sort of dumb things, but no matter how angry I am, it usually makes me crack up, or at least smile. When I laugh or smile, he usually keeps it up and smothers me with affection so we can talk in a more loving and respectful manner about the problem.
One day during dinner I was furious with HF for something (must've not been very important because I can't even remember what it was now) and I got up to get the milk out of the fridge. Behind the kids' backs I gave HF a death glare. He stopped eating, dropped his fork and said, "Oh no you di'int". He was out of his chair and chasing me in a split second. I was so surprised by this that I actually screamed and ran up the stairs laughing. I was also unsure of what he was going to do. He came after me and tackled me on our bed where we ended up kissing. I was no longer angry at him and we could talk rationally about what had caused my anger towards him.
Most recently, HF looked at me and noting my look of disappointment, he said, "You think I'm hot, don't you." I didn't say anything. He said again, "you think I'm cute, huh." I finally smiled and said, "Yes. I do." Then he added, "It's impossible for you to be mad at me right now because I'm so cute." Again, he made me laugh and shake my head at him. And he uses that one about his looks when I'm especially angry. We could be totally having it out and he'll say, "Even though you are yelling at me right now, you can't help but think how hot I look in these jeans. You are so attracted to me right now. You want me don't you." How can you stay angry and fighting with someone who randomly says something like that to you.
We've been fighting. In fact, we have had a couple of what I consider to be real doozies lately. What it comes down to is the change in HF in regards to his communication style mostly. He seems so angry all the time and there is no reasoning with him. No one likes to be told when they are wrong, etc. That causes one to become defensive. We've been told that this is normal for every cop early on and that it goes away with time. I tend to believe more along the line that it's still a decision that you make to be angry and it won't go away with time unless you deal with it appropriately. I'm not very sympathetic to the whole "I'm acting this way because of . . . " stuff. If you know how to act and what's appropriate, then you just do it! I understand that he is going to change, but no matter how much reading I do about how becoming a cop affects your loved one, I expect him to communicate with me in a better way and sit down with me so we can both talk about it. I also know that I can't make him do what I want him to do. He knows what's right and he's an adult. I know he has the tools, and I know he knows what I expect. I know he wants the same thing as I do. It's the same for me as well when I am struggling and need to change.
While I'm not worried and hopeless about our relationship, I am impatient and frustrated with the slowness of change. After a day of fighting, sometimes I think how can I make this right. How can I make things better. How can I nurture love and forgiveness in our relationship. I suspect he's asking himself the same things. We both end up texting each other apologies and hugging it out when he comes home. Or sometimes it's not until we're in bed and the silence is too much for us to bear and we end up inching towards one another until our feet are tangled up together. It doesn't solve the problems. It doesn't make all the anger and hurt go away, but we love each other and neither of us like how it feels when there is tension between us.
I guess what bothers me the most is that HF has always been a lover not a fighter. That is something that drew me to him early on. He is very forgiving and I am not that way. I am a fighter and don't want to forgive so easily. Lately I have realized how much I have relied on this strength of his. I have always seen him as a very Christ-like person, which is how I would like to be. I also realized that it's always HF and not me that uses humor when angry. He's the one that makes things better when we are fighting. That's why his suddenly being a fighter instead of a lover has got us all in disarray. I expect him to be the one to make it better. I've never known him to turn the tables on me.
I'm not writing this as a plea for help or for advice. I'm just putting it out there more as a conversation starter because I think we all have our times of disconnect in our relationships. I think that certain professions such as being a police officer adds strain at various times throughout the relationship as well. We are still adjusting to this lifestyle. HF is still adjusting to his job and the responsibility that that entails. I guess what I'm saying is we are all going to fight in one way or another and how we fight affects the path that we will travel in our relationships. Without humor making an appearance in our fights, I don't know how we would forgive one another and move on stronger and wiser as we grow old together. Granted it doesn't always work, but it really does most of the time.
What are your stories? How do you keep a fight from escalating?
In my best Linda Richman accent (Mike Meyers in SNL's Coffee Talk), "I'm all verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves!"
P.S. Today is one of HF's days off. He spent it not being able to get out of bed and then going with his partner to another officer's house to go through all his Vietnam era junk that his wife was making him get rid of and brought home a bunch of new crap which I asked him if he knew where he was going to keep it. He said he would find a place and that I wouldn't even see it. I told him it better be a room of requirement (Harry Potter reference). Then after making dinner for three screaming children and dealing with them all day on my own and getting them to bed, he puts in an episode of the Backyardigans because he has "one of their songs stuck in his head and this is the only way to get it out". Talk about making me angry! :)