Couples fighting is the greatest source of comedy on the planet. Two people occupy the same space – a relationship – but in that moment, they both have completely different ideas for what should be happening in it. Every couple fight is like two shipwrecked idiots, arguing about which way to steer the lifeboat, knowing they’re stuck with the decision either way. This week, I wrote on Facebook:
All couples’ fights boil down to this: “I just want you to be a completely different person. Is that too much to ask?”
The older I get, the more I think that’s true. My wife and I haven’t had a “new” fight in years. They’re all the same. We argue about sex in exactly the same way as we have for years. We argue about my temper and ability to suck the air out of a room. We argue about her selfishness, the same way people fight about global warming. I say it exists and have overwhelming evidence on my side. Then she says: “oh, that’s not real”. So why do we keep having the same fight?
It’s insane, really. We are really asking the other to just become a different human. Is anything more pointless? We know exactly who our long-term partners are. They’re the person who behaves that way in that particular situation, every time. Arguing about why they do it is totally pointless.
On some level, maybe it’s comforting. Part of you likes the occasional fight, because it’s reassuring that you can still get on someone’s nerves. You’re still confounding someone. There is still some mystery to you. My parents have been married for almost 40 years. I once asked my mother what their secret was. Her answer: “complete and utter incompatibility”.
One of my favorite moments is this one. You’re lying in bed after a HUGE fight. You both say terrible stuff to each other. You can’t imagine anyone could fall asleep after saying such things. And then, in the dark, all you hear is… snoring.