Aparguments

Oh, you guys.  I know I’ve sort of disappeared.  I know I don’t call or even answer text messages.  No one has died, I’ve just been busy.  Busy aparguing.

Aparguing has taken over much of the time I spend outside of home and nearly all of the time I spend in our apartment.  What is aparguing, you ask?  It must be fun, enchanting really, if you are willing to dedicate so much of your precious, precious time to it.  Well, let me tell you! Aparguing is arguing about your apartment (apartment+arguing=aparguing).  And it turns out that Turtle and I are pretty darn good at it.

Turtle, ready to apargue with me and/or the color of the walls.

The thing about it is that it’s just a starting point. It brings your ability to be snippy and rude right to the surface, and there it rests until someone says something like, “Are you going to make dinner tonight?” or “How was your day?”  And then the only rational response, of course, is “Why would you ask me that?!” followed by a flood of tears.

I’m exaggerating a little bit, but not too much.  We come from completely different places on this apartment thing.  I want things organized, and then we can clean them; she wants to clean everything before we put anything anywhere.  I think we’re both at pretty extreme ends of our spectrums; a coworker recently said, “Of course you should clean the floor before putting the couch there!”  Oops.  I just want the room to look like home as fast as possible.  Turtle, on the other end of things, washes the wall before we hang a picture up.  So we end up with either a cluttered, but clean home if she gets her way, or a tidy but filthy home if I get mine.  The other option is that we argue about it and then crash and we end up with a cluttered, dirty home. Fun times.

What’s hard about this right now is not only the arguing itself, but the proximity to the wedding.  My stupid little ticker countdown thing was cute and fun until it hit Day 100 and we argued about which corner of the room the TV should go in and whether the cats got their dinner in a plastic bowl or a glass bowl.  Big, important arguments, you guys.

angry faces

I suppose if we can get through this chunk of stress, we’re just getting stronger.  We’ve gotten through worst in the past, and I’m sure we will again in the future.  It’s just frustrating to argue over such trivial things as where to put a chair or who left a magazine in the middle of our excessive counter space.  Really, me? You need to use all that counter space at the same time? You can’t move that magazine all by yourself?

we are mad! ready to apargue! (photo by Ellie Leonardsmith)

I just finished reading Kate Braestrup’s book Marriage and Other Acts of Charity and she talks about how she and her husband used to argue.  And by argue I mean fight, I mean break a coffee table or a window.  And they are having a really hard time and they go to counseling, blah blah blah. And then she realizes something:

Cringing beneath the merciless gaze of my own eyes, I realized how utterly I had failed to do something simple.  I had refused to love the one I loved, the one I had vowed before God to love, the one God had placed not only in my path but in my own damned bed! Remedial Goodness was clearly in order.  I could be good to Drew… I love him…nothing matters more than this.

While Turtle and I are not breaking things by any means, we are certainly quicker to anger than we have been in the past.  We are slower to apologize and less willing to cross the line and walk to the other person’s corner.  But I don’t think I realized that until I read this.  It’s only been a day, but every time I find something that I might normally grumble, “Oh, Turtle,” about, I try to say to myself instead, “I love her…nothing matters more than this.”

Braestrup points out that when you marry and vow to love each other, “you aren’t really promising to feel love. You are promising to do love.”

So what does that mean?

Today it means that when I come home from work and find Turtle asleep on the couch, I don’t grumble and drop my stuff loudly, because we are supposed to go to Ikea and she knows that.  Instead, I kiss her on the forehead and when she asks for five more minutes, I give her twenty.  It means giving, and letting go, and hoping that what I’m giving is returned.  And while it’s scary to be doing so much aparguing only 98 days before our wedding, if it’s making me stop and think and slow down and remember why and how I want to be with Turtle, then it’s perfect timing.

photo by Ellie Leonardsmith

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9 Comments

Filed under Home, Relationships

9 responses to “Aparguments

  1. We’ve had our aparguments! And, there are times that are more stressful than others, but you handle it perfectly by saying, “I love her… nothing matters more than this.” For me making a commitment to someone and loving them makes those little annoying things go away and I can see the big picture. I see us together in 50 years, wrinkled, and happy. 🙂

  2. Sue B

    Someone I met once said:
    “A Relationship is when two people get together to see what they can get from each other.
    A Partnership is when two people get together to see what they can give to each other.”
    Sounds like you are finding a partnership…as it should be.

  3. Ms. E

    Just be thankful you didn’t move across the country. Argh! It’s stressing us out already. We’ve had our share of aparguments (I’m the one who likes to clean first and he likes to dump things). I’m just imagining that this move might top all others. But, as I think we’ve both learned, most battles are not worth fighting. Picking up the dirty underwear is much easier than arguing about it. And once you put it in the hamper you can cuddle on the couch instead of glaring at each other. xo.

  4. We have been aparguing about our old apartment and about our new apartment. We move in two weeks and did I mention I’m studying for the bar and it’s ruining my life?

    Mark is at a bachelor party in Vegas and I read this post and I just wanted to say thank you. I needed the reminder that I need to be good to my partner. That even when I am tired, or crabby, or exhausted from learning about the degrees of murder, I can come home and be good to my partner. And if I can’t be good to my partner, at least right then, I do not need to be bad to my partner instead. So thank you.

  5. Raffe

    Thank you as always for a beautifully written post on love and relationships. My lady and I had a stretch of nothing fights and aparguing for a while, but holding on to the fight just makes both of us tired.

    Now, when I start becoming irate over all the things that don’t get done, I find it helps to remind myself of what she does do: She left the mail all over our table, again. But she also takes out the compost. And maybe she did leave her breakfast dishes, but she got up first, an hour earlier than I did, to feed the meowing alarm clock we call the cat.

    These little life tasks even out, but the scales balance more quickly when we remember to not weight the scales in our own favor, and this makes life that much easier and happier for me, and for us.

  6. akc

    At the end of the day, if the biggest challenge to your relationship is whether you should clean or organize first, I think you’re in pretty good shape. Those are the things you learn to adjust to, to deal with, and to start talking through. Or sometimes to just come home and be cranky about until you remember that beneath the very important issue of whether the wall is clean or the mugs are on the right shelf, you still love each other and will love each other regardless of the dust. Everything else is normal human interactions which are obviously going to flare up in times of stress (such as wedding/moving/life drama).
    Besides, I know this person who had a roommate, who then became one of 4 housemates, all of whom had a lot of aparguments, and they generally like each other still.

  7. ooooh… feel v. do. i like that.

    Do wins. 🙂

  8. lyn

    This was a beautiful read. It seems like new things, new struggles, new situations can really bring the snippiness straight up to the surface in most people. And right now, you two are not only juggling the apartment, but the wedding. Those are two stressful things that would be hard enough to deal with by ourselves, but then when you add in another person’s motivations, desires, and personality, it becomes a pot waiting to bubble over.

    Most of all, thanks for the reminder to slow down and treat my partner like the human I love when I’m about to slip.

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