Sometimes a long term relationship can resemble a game show.
Every so often we all spin the wheel and either wind up having that fight about spending money, the ongoing trial of toilet paper replacement responsibility, or the argument over who should get the mail. Sometimes we land on having the hard conversation about how one of us really wants to relocate, or bickering over the importance of text notifications when one of us is late.
Those are our big ones. The topics that bring us to anger.
The peace accord is never obeyed because a resolution is neither final nor fair. These are just a few of the issues, big and small, which make us yell bad words and sulk.
Money was the latest spin.
It all started with the covert smuggling of Target bags into our home and the subsequent silent treatment that translated into bickering.
“How the *&*k do you spend $250 there? Chocolate is not essential?!”
“It wasn’t on the list”
“Don’t micromanage me.”
“I’m not, I’m managing our budget!”
“I know what the budget is!”
“Oh, give me a break. Are you seriously going to go there.”
The resolution always happens like this. We figure it out. We kiss and make up quickly. We rehash it a week later and expect our therapist to referee. It’s all very benign and functional and yet ever so predictable.
When I think about what can bring on a fight after ten years together, it does sometimes make me think of the alternative. Of not knowing. Of having to figure all this stuff out with another person who I know so little about.
The temptation of new and easy appeals to all of us; whether in our social lives, our jobs, or with our romantic partners. The illusion of new being better is in the expectation of the laundry list of qualifications now expected in a partner.
Online dating has made us very specific about what we require and reject in others. The reality, however, is that we would never meet, much less rub our bodies against anyone, if their transgressions were read before us.
Before you swipe right, I am required to inform you of the following: I have an Asian Massage Fetish, I struggle with sharing my food, I never remember to buy milk, I smoke too much weed, I don’t like kids and I still resent my sister, which makes the Holidays an absolute nightmare for everyone involved.
Clearly not the way to keep our species alive.
What we are losing with online dating is the stuff you find between the darkness. The way porn awakens a passion in you. The cute way he guards his food like a 3rd grader. The practical jokes you get to play on her when she opens the fridge in the morning. The graceful struggle of trying to become a healthier person. The heart opening pain of acceptance. The inside jokes about each other’s families that sustain you over dry turkey, year after year.
It is a street fight. I won’t ever tell you otherwise. Yet to love and be loved is what we do. What choice do we have? Too many cold nights out in the wilderness demand heat.
Marriage is not
a house or even a tent
it is before that, and colder:
the edge of the forest, the edge
of the desert
the unpainted stairs
at the back where we squat
outside, eating popcorn
the edge of the receding glacier
where painfully and with wonder
at having survived even
we are learning to make fire
~ Margaret Atwood
Author: Natasha Watkinson
Editor: Caitlin Oriel
Image: Author’s Own and William Wheeler/Flickr