Have you ever fought about something so unequivocally ridiculous that you just got lost in it? Suddenly, you’re throwing your belongings into trash bags and discussing who is going to get the Keurig and you only suggested it was her turn to clean the chili pot. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how immaterial patient zero is, the epidemic devastates the same.
I am going to add eight hours and $120 in hotel fees back into your bank account right now with one easy piece of advice — count to ten. I know this may be the first time you’ve heard this since your life coach (aka Mom) suggested it as a kid but hear me out. It wasn’t until adulthood that I truly understood what this meant, I simply saw it as some sort of confusing proverb for hippies — it never made sense for me to contain my anger. My anger was the trademark of my identity. It wasn’t until I recognized the nuances between important and unimportant anger that I was effective in controlling it.
The healing properties and wisdom of silence are possibly the most under-celebrated forms of relationship counseling I know of. Edgar Allen Poe noted that a true genius prefers silence over “saying something that is not everything that should be said.” Rumi celebrated the eloquence of silence, “stop weaving and see how the pattern improves.” Silence gets confused too often with lack of communication, but silence is articulate, the perfect rebuttal — we fail to communicate when we stop listening to each other and just because we’re talking doesn’t mean we’re communicating. The next time she says or does something that makes you feel inflated with anger, consider the insignificance of helium — the second most abundant and lightest element in the known universe. Count to ten, count to twenty, count until you forget what you were angry about in the first place.
Throughout the years, my girlfriend and I have mastered the ancient art of “when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em” popularized by Kenny Rogers, though it took many years of bickering over truly absurd and frivolous matters to get here. Below are the top five most idiotic topics in the history of Natalie and Robyn fights. Next time you’re ready to throw in the towel over some spilled milk, toss that somabitch over the puddle instead because there is a fruitful and rewarding relationship waiting for you at the end of your dumb fight about nothing.
I have titled each fight after the final episodes of the whitest show on television, Friends. Good riddance pointless fights and good riddance Friends! Also, know that all of these arguments will be depicted in a way that is incredibly biased in my favor.
1. The One About Bath Mats
In the bathroom there are several mats; one in front of the sink, one in front of the toilet AND one that sits in front of the shower, at least there should be. Natalie, since I have known her, has used a small towel in lieu of a mat that sits on the edge of the tub and needs to be removed for every shower use so it doesn’t get soaked, which is a huge inconvenience. For a very long time, in silent protest, I refused to remove the towel during my showers. You know the moment when your mom finally discovers the vase or dish or whatever shit she loved that you broke and stuffed in the trash? That is how I felt every evening when Natalie would emerge from the bathroom with the inundated towel in hand, discovering that again I had neglected to remove the “bath mat” during my shower. “Oops” I shrugged, “I just keep forgetting,” I could feel her patience waning. I continued playing dumb until the eventual eruption; “are you doing this on purpose!?” I conceded that this was not second nature to me, why couldn’t we just get a permanent mat like normal people? Eventually I gave in because resistance was futile. Now every time I take a shower, I ceremoniously lay down the bath towel to allow for its metamorphosis into the bath mat. I still hop over it on to the mat in front of the sink after my shower, just out of principal — a small victory for the integrity of the bath mat.
2. The One About Baby Gas Masks
Natalie is a casual hoarder. In my years with her, I have successfully found places for antique baby gas masks, chucky dolls, various medieval medical wares, twenty California Raisins, poison, ceramic Chinese Crested statues, three typewriters, a Zeiss microscope, old pencil sharpeners AND MORE to ad nauseum. The problem is, we have sacrificed precious square footage in favor of better amenities and location, which complicates her need to prepare for a mid century nuclear holocaust.
Recently, she learned the art of “extreme couponing” which has created an area of chaos behind the living room sectional; we have ten boxes of Kix, fifteen containers of Purex and enough Pop Secret to open a small movie theater and that is just the tip of the iceberg. I wouldn’t call our apartment cluttered. I have managed (miraculously) to find a space for most things — occasionally that space is the trash or Goodwill — but it is a constant balancing act and we have come to blows many times over it. Over time we’ve compromised, she buys less from the flea market and I complain less about her selections with the mutual understanding that when I cry uncle, it is time to donate or trash. “My family is visiting for the holidays” I would say cautiously, “we need to do something with all those Hillary Clinton shirts you had printed when you went through that phase,” I find that addressing one issue at a time compartmentalizes things for her. “Then we can begin doing something with all those febreze car vent clips.”
3. The One About The Car
I had never owned a new car, so when I earned enough money to purchase my 2007 (in 2007) Black Limited Edition Jetta, I was elated. I felt like Hollywood royalty. Natalie, at the time, drove a white Mitsubishi Montero Sport — a respectable and meticulously maintained sport utility vehicle, but a couple years older than the Jetta. I could tell my new car smell was puncturing every inch of her willpower, still I hoped she would let me have this moment. When Natalie pulled into the driveway in her new black sedan with beige leather interior, just like my Jetta — I was furious. When I realized it was a BMW I wanted to roundhouse kick her into the next millennium.
It wasn’t that it was the same color scheme or that it instantly deemed my car the Rhoda to her Mary, and it wasn’t even that she bought it so soon after I bought mine — it was all of those things combined. I packed all of my belongings and booked a room at the nearest Amerisuites hotel. I even purchased a one way plane ticket back to New York, ironically planning to leave my brand new Jetta abandoned in the moderately priced hotel chain’s parking lot. However, Natalie tracked me to the nearest Amerisuites like a regular forest carnivore before I could leave. I remember the look on her face when I opened the door, her eyes tearing and red with worry — she was sorry, whether or not she should have been is and was irrelevant. She never looked so defeated and small as she did in that moment, hunched over and scared she fell into my arms sobbing and I knew that I was a fool for caring about anything other than keeping her in my life forever.
4. The One About Natalie’s Continued Fixation With Miley Cyrus Despite Anything She Says Or Does
5. The One About The Joker Kitchen
When Natalie and I moved into our first home together, we were excited to express our individuality through various wall paints. We spent hours picking out the brightest and most unusual paint colors we could at Home Depot and exhausted ourselves applying layer after layer of key lime green to our living room walls. After the ill conceived pairing of chili pepper red and babouche yellow in the bathroom, I welcomed the absence of color in the kitchen — our last neutral wall. Of course I didn’t vocalize this, I figured it was implied with every craving for McDonald’s french fries we had to endure while showering. Imagine my surprise when I returned home after a day’s work to see our kitchen transformed into the Joker’s villainous lair. Menacing deep purples and light greens maniacally surrounded me and suddenly I couldn’t imagine baking a pie in this kitchen that wasn’t stuffed with cyanide. I knew Natalie worked tirelessly all day to surprise me and I wasn’t sure I could mask my disappointment, admittedly I don’t believe that I tried. “You never said that you didn’t want to paint the kitchen” Natalie was frustrated by my lack of enthusiasm. It’s not that I didn’t want to paint the kitchen, it’s that I didn’t want to paint the kitchen with the trademark colors of a murderous psychopath.
We sat in silence the entire night except for Natalie’s occasional offer to “allow” me to repaint the entire kitchen — “you can repaint it if you don’t like it, but it’s going to be really tough to go over that dark purple.” If only I had a flower I could spray at her filled with corrosive acid, I plotted silently — I felt the slow transformation beginning. Ultimately I concluded that there had to be a compromise, there was no distress signal I could cast into the night sky to resolve the situation, it was on me to accept this kitchen as my own. The next day I assured Natalie that the colors would grow on me and that I appreciated the gesture. I feigned delight affixing myself with a disingenuous and severe grin that rivaled The Joker himself.
Share your most absurd entanglements and their level of destruction in your relationships so that we all may feel a little less alone!
I feel like this column is exactly what AS was missing. Thanks Robyn!
No, thank YOU!
The heat. We had a classic Fire sign vs. Earth sign approach. I wanted the heat to be decided on a moment by moment basis depending on how it felt in the house. This means turning it up for 30 minutes, then turning it back down, about 20 times a day. And blasting it right before bed to warm up the bedroom, then turning it completely off. She wanted a plan: 65 during the day, low at night. She said I just wanted to be in control of the temperature. I accused her of using a tool of the patriarchy – the thermometer – which takes something that is completely relative (after all 60 in Louisiana feels very different from 60 in Massachusetts and 60 in January is not the same as 60 in April) and puts it on some artificial scale that it just used to make people question their judgement. After many, many fights we ended up with the heat low and a low electric bill. This year, she moved out of state for a job and I got roommate who likes the heat blasting. Even all the way up to 75! It was so cozy and delightful. Until we got the first electric bill. It was the highest I have had my entire adult life. My partner laughed when I called her to tell her I realized she might have been right about the heat.
YES. I am the cold one and Nat is the hot one, we had to have a “serious” conversation when she was still running the air conditioning at night when it was 30 degrees outside!
The power bill can be a very sobering reality.
So glad this article is up, ive been expecting something about arguments to pop up. No good relationship is without its bad and VERY bad days.
I think my wife has known for some time now how short my temper can be and i TOTALLY know how moody she gets.
One time we were joking around and we mentioned west hollywood. She and i maintain a LDR and so i was telling her about the pride week etc that goes on. So shes joking about people watching so i tell her if i go to weho to look but not touch and she totally just went COLD SHOULDER on me. For a week. We couldnt remember what we even had an argument about til 2 weeks later.
Oh man, cold shoulder is almost worse than a knock down, drag out screaming fit.
LDRs are really interesting to me, Natalie and I were LDR for the first few months of our relationship. Sometimes not having the benefit of body language can lend to misunderstandings and fights. This may be a good topic to write about!
People hardly believe me when I tell them we still have fights even if we’re in a LDR. I suppose they think that because we’re not together we don’t have much to fight about but you’re a couple you know. It’s still bound to happen. That’s true, but then you learn to pick up on things in the messages. Subtle things like instead of ‘ok..’ it becomes ‘OK’ or ‘k…….’ Now phones have a feature where you see that the person you’re sending messages to have ‘seen’ them and they don’t reply. Yeah those can get confusing. haha.
This column is hysterical and adorable and everything I needed. but oh my god baby gas masks, I don’t know.
Where do you even find those?!
Flea Market – where Natalie finds everything that drives me crazy.
Thank you so much, that’s nice to hear/read.
And, baby gas masks, tell me about it. We have it on display on a mannequin’s head in our living room, I will have to post a picture one day. It’s truly disturbing. Natalie also attached the oxygen tube (or whatever it is) that comes off of it to a bottle of Jagermeister. Charming.
Hahahaha the jaeger bit im dying
My partner always “cuddles” our kitten for longer than our cat wants to be cuddled. By the time our cat escapes her grasp, she is usually angry and desperate to get away. She always runs in my direction, using her claws as she makes her escape. This usually results in me bleeding. And then I get pissed at my wife for hurting me, while she yells “it wasn’t me, it was the cat!”. Yeah. The cat.
Stupid fight, but there it is!
Wow… I just realized now that even our fights are lesbionic.
Other people know what this is like?!
I never realized fights could be lesbionic.
Haha! I love it. I think I’ve probably done that to a cat before, reminds me of a lot of this:
Our fights usually result in something I said while I was hungry. My hippie mantra should be “Count to ten…and have a snack”.
Same! That or thirsty. It’s gotten to the point that when I start getting cranky my wife asks if I want a glass of water or a cup of tea.
This. All the way. I’m also hugely disorganised and don’t usually start cooking until I’m already really hungry. Emergency biscuits are the way forward.
Hangry. This is the word my friends invented for being angry because you’re hungry, not because you’re really angry. I grew up with a mom who got hangry and generally learned to plan for it (although that one family road trip was a series of nightmares pretty much every morning) and then I became someone with the exact same problem but without the planning. It took a while – and friends who had the same issue – before I realized I needed to keep snacks around and bite my tongue if I haven’t eaten lately.
yes my friends and i say hangry too!
I always assume someone is hungry if they’re grumpy. So my go-to move is Make A Sandwich.
Hangry- it happens to the best of us.
My missus will often offer to make me a snack when I get in from work due to my propensity to hulk out when hangry. Seems I’m not alone!
Oh my god, I seriously used to carry crackers around in my bag to stuff into Natalie’s mouth like a pet bird when she started being mean to me.
BANANAS BELONG ON THE COUNTER NOT THE FRIDGE!!! I begged, I pleaded, I sang the Chiquita Banana theme song that EXPRESSLY states that bc bananas are from south of the equator they do not belong in the refrigerator…le sigh…I guess we are splitting the bunch then.
In all my years of life I never knew bananas in the fridge were a thing…
I am with you on the bananas! I know some people are into cold bananas though and cold chocolate, I don’t get either.
ALSO, did you know separating bananas from the stem keeps them fresh longer? I just learned that.
i love this column
I honestly don’t think I have ever laughed out loud so hard at an AS article before. I’m not sure how I should feel about having absolutely had 3 1/2 of these arguments! We usually have an incredible temperment for each other, but after a few years, not agreeing on a wall color can turn into a whole other animal.
This column is great!
Thanks so much!
That is very true, sometimes you’re so compatible you have to start fighting about little things since there are no big things to fight about.
Brilliant, I genuinely laughed out loud. Most ridiculous non-argument/meltdown occurred very early on in our relationship after I dropped my vegeburger on the floor and did not want to share hers, it blew over quickly and is often joked about. I am now a patient requester and explainer when it comes to clothes on the towel rack and half drunk mugs of coffee as she is about me leaving my sweatshirts all over the house.
And, you have no idea how much that last part sounds like Natalie and I. Natalie is VERY clean and never leaves anything out EXCEPT her coffee mugs. I can count on coming home to her empty coffee mug on the table every day. In turn, I leave my shoes out all the time which drives her craaaazy. I like to take my shoes off at the door, what can I say?
The One About the Vampires: my girlfriend and I argued once about whether or not she would let me suck her blood if I was a vampire. I questioned her loyalty to me. She fumed at my blatant disregard for her safety. Fortunately we found our way to much more pleasurable activities when I told her I had to “practice” by kissing her neck.
Ha! I probably would be offended if Natalie wouldn’t let vampire Robyn sustain life on her blood – the alternative is someone else’s blood and surely she doesn’t want that! :)
The one about transhumanism. Actually i broke up with one of them because she read the FM-2030 declaration and called it the most evil thing she has ever read because biolife is sacred and how about hubris, meaning of life and whatelse. Fn chimp, as if she wouldn’t have been dead without technology from one health condition and technology wasn’t the only hope to fix another. like an idiot adoptive child who spits in the face of a loving mother to find out who is ‘really’ their mother. H8!!!111!!!!!
That is way more interesting than anything we have fought about. I am def with you on that one.
Everyone goes through those weeks/months where everything is leading into a fight. We happen to be in those weeks… I’m working so much and she is hardly working. Anyways I recently made a big deal about chicken. And leaving it in the fridge too long. I specifically said no longer than two days in the fridge then it should go in the freezer (I was going to FL for three.) came home. Still in the fridge. Huge fight. Started a break up. Wtf. Who cares??? I love her more than anything why does it matter? It doesn’t.
It’s so funny how we go from 1 – 10 (we are BREAKING UP) over things like chicken.
Seriously…I literally stepped off the plane. I couldn’t wait to see her and our two cats (so gay). We weren’t even out of the car before it was full blown. But I think, even though it is not a healthy way to function, over time it really makes you realize that everyone has their quirks and those quirks are the reasons why you love her. Essentially we don’t want that to change, but it can get lost in translation. Thanks for your article Robyn, it really is a reflection of what is going on in our relationship right now (and I can see many others.) I need to count to 10 (or 100) and remember that we are different people, no matter how much influence she has had on my foodnetwork reality tv show watching and how much influence I have had on her shoe purchasing, we are different and that IS amazing. It’s good to know everyone has those stupid fights.
My longest relationship (6 years) had a nice little argument over chicken. I did all of the cooking because she was all thumbs in the kitchen. We were both in undergrad so before I left for class I told her to take the chicken out of the fridge and put two pieces in each quart bag (because we only needed two pieces for each meal) then put them up in the freezer. When I got home she reassured me she had put the chicken up and so I dismissed it. I go to fix dinner and when I open the freezer the whole damn pack is sitting there, all the chicken frozen together. Huge argument. Cry cry cry, chicken isn’t important. She cooks dinner:)
If we’re gonna buy the 7 dollar Whole-Foods-super-organic-blessed-by-the-Pope-himself-peanut butter, then we can keep it in the goddamn fridge so that it doesn’t separate!
Sorry. A lot of pent up frustration there.
Loved the article, btw! Made me feel better about the aforementioned peanut butter.
Oh boy, I actually didn’t know that was a thing! Do you put jelly in the fridge? I do but I hear you don’t *technically have to do that either.
Jelly/jam also goes in the fridge. (No disputes over that one, for whatever reason.)
I’m somewhat shocked by the fact no one has mentioned The One about Who’s Turn it is to Take the Dogs Out.
We definitely just both do it together to avoid this!
It works out really well for ME because Natalie averages way more dog take-outs since she brings them to work with her. In retrospect, I’m surprised she hasn’t brought this up…
Girlfriend puts muffins and other baked things in the microwave to store them. Wtf? I will open the microwave and find banana bread just chilling there. It’s like, “oh my god, just put on the counter like a normal person.”
At least she isn’t storing pans in the oven. Trust me.
oh g-d my girlfriend gets so annoyed with me for storing pans in the oven
Same here…My mom always put pans in the oven to cool off after cooking so no one got burned. So many arguments about it in past relationship BECAUSE I WAS THE ONLY ONE TO EVER USE THE OVEN.
Oooo, that’s actually a good idea ..
MY MOTHER DOES THIS. It’s a little bit insane but also she has two cats that both eat bread so it sort of makes sense.
I really enjoyed reading this.
That Miley image is kind of relevant to my life. Um, donning my therapist hat (or therapist clogs, or therapist colorful patterned enormous scarf, actually), may I recommend the classic The Dance of Anger for anyone looking for a feminist take on resolving anger in relationships? Like not anger about baby gas masks.
I will have to check that out!
“Suddenly, you’re throwing your belongings into trash bags and discussing who is going to get the Keurig and you only suggested it was her turn to clean the chili pot.”
lmao all these stories are amazing, I thought I was alone
Here on AS? You’re never alone
Thanks! We are all in this together for sure.
I keep coming back and re-reading this article because it makes me laugh during those times I need to count to ten… (Like right now!)
Too funny. Made me feel okay about similar past argument with my Funmi.
Ghosts! Our house appears to be haunted and she woke me up in the dead middle of the night to tell me that the ghost had tickled her feet. I tried to tell her that our puppy had probably just licked them or brushed his fur against them but she refused to believe me and got all upset that I didn’t believe her. So, I cuddled her and she fell back asleep.
Fast forward to a week later and she broke down on me in full hysterics when I, once again, teased her, about the ghost. It turned into a full fledged fight and she threatened to pack up and move back to her mom’s house because she was freaked out and it was “obvious” I didn’t believe her or care enough about her to take care of the issue.
So, I apologized profusely, went to the local occult shop, bought sage and other items that I was assured would get rid of our ghostly visitor and preformed the rituals with her that night. She was fine from then on!
This may seem silly, but I’m having it out with my partner over me supposedly provoking her at her parents house. I droped her off after after a semi-argument. She went inside to grab something, i got out to dig for my purse in the back seat, she saw me get back in the driver seat (purse in hand). Now she says i was trying to provoke/make a statement in front of her house??? She’s not out btw, i assume she thinks i was attempting to do so. Sigh..i hate that she thinks i would do that and asked her why she thought that…she says well youve done other things i never thought you would do either so….that was her reply. Help.