My husband and I fight a lot. I understand some people will be appalled at this revelation. We disagree in short, frequent burst whenever we feel the need. There is absolutely no repression in our household. We have had fights about dinner, bedtime, throw pillows (which I then returned to Pier 1), how to load the dish washer, how to discipline the kids, and everything in between. One might reasonably wonder how we are still married.
Well, the answer is simple and not so simple. We laugh. Laughter is the diffuser of any type of relational bomb. If you can get the other person to laugh, all tension seems to evaporate and the situation (how to fold t-shirts) is suddenly put into perspective. Ben and I laugh and laugh about everything. Don’t get me wrong….he has made me so angry I have actually fantasized about beating him close to death with my bare hands. I have not indulged in this, because, well, spousal abuse is wrong. Even if the guy is 6 inches taller and 70 lbs heavier than you. DON’T HIT!
Instead, we often find a way to laugh. For the sake of this blog, I asked Ben if he could ever remember one of the diffusing comments we have made to each other over the years that ended one of our fights. Nope, no memory. And I can’t remember either! Why can’t we remember any marriage saving phrases? I wish I could pass them on verbatim to you to employ in your own relationships, but it’s impossible. Here’s why.
Our shared humor comes from our shared experiences. Over a decade we have seen the same movies, quoted the same friends, read or discussed the same books and articles, and generally had a shared life. When I say to Ben in a deep voice “Of course its a good idea…” he knows, Monty Python style that the follow up phrase is “I’m f#$%ing God!” And when I rarely admit that Ben was right about something, he always makes me add that he’s “Very good looking, and I”m not at all attractive” from Happy Gilmore.”
Heaven forbid that he asks me what size I want in a burrito or ice-cream…when I say ” The big ones….” (See Chappell show for the full skit.)
I had to ask Ben to check all my quotes to verify correctness. They were all wrong. Ben’s response “Nobody’s got stress….she’s wearing a dress…God, I hate people that get the words wrong!” – Bull Durham
So….we’re movie quoting nerds. But it diffuses so many of life’s little quagmires. I encourage you all to watch goofy comedies with your spouses. You won’t regret it!
For the power of “Hmmm”- there’s not much to say. When someone says something to you about which you are undecided…don’t form an instant opinion. Say, “hmmmm.” When someone says something you just don’t want to respond too yet, say “hmmm”. From when you say “hmmm”. Smile when you say “hmmm”. But by all means give yourself some space. There is no reason you have to have a fully formed opinion on every topic under the sun at the drop of a hat. Give yourself time, space, and the ability to change your mind. Take advantage of the “Hmmmmm.”