Well, well well …. you knew one day it would come to this, right? In my defense, the problem is that I read too much. If only my eyes hadn’t landed on the glaring headline, “All Couples Fight, but Here’s How Successful Couples Do It!”
ALL couples?? Gulp. I grew immediately panic-stricken when I realized there hadn’t been any arguments in the new relationship I was in. Not. A. Single. One. What was wrong with us? How would we ever know if we were a successful couple? We have been putting all this time and energy into having a stress-free relationship and now that was going to be counterproductive.
We’d never even had a slight disagreement about something as innocuous as our food preferences. One of us will say, “Mushrooms are a fungus and I can’t stand them or anyone who eats them.” And the other will nod empathetically and say, “The world will not be safe until mushrooms are eradicated!” and then we’ll order a plain cheese pizza to seal our bond over the common enemy.
At first I tried to calm down by reminding myself this article was just click-bait or an urban legend. But Snopes confirmed it to be true. In fact, there were links to other supporting evidence like, “Couples Who Argue Together, Stay Together, Research Finds.” OMG! You cannot state, “Research Finds” blatantly in your title if research does not actually find it! My new boyfriend and I were doomed.
Unless I acted prudently and propelled us quickly and effectively down the road of quarreling. But how? And over what? It should happen organically and naturally, I thought. Fortunately that’s exactly the point when this surfaced in my newsfeed. “4 Fights Every Couple Must Get Through Because They’ll Actually Bring You Closer.”
Aha…a roadmap! We could make up for lost time by closely following the steps to these four recommended fights all in one day. I quickly committed the article to memory and dialed my boyfriend’s number. “Play it cool, Stephanie” I chastised myself. “Ease into it.”
Me: Hi. How are you? I don’t want to have any children. I think the world isn’t a good place to bring kids into.
Him: But what will you do with the six you already have? Also you’re 55 years old.
Me: (flustered) I am not.
Him: Are so.
Me: Am not.
Him: Are so.
Things were going along swimmingly like this for several hours until he finally conceded that I looked more like I was in my mid-forties and so obviously my Match profile must’ve had a typo — then he gallantly apologized. He hung up after saying he adored me. Well that qualified as completing our first official fight, but there still were three more arguments to get through. I dialed him back.
Me: I’m not feeling heard by you.
Him: Shouldn’t you say something first so I can hear it?
Me: That’s not how I mean the word ‘heard.’
Him: Oh! Herd? Where would you like me to herd you? We could go to dinner or a movie with a very large group of people? We could visit sheep? We could…
Me: (exasperated) I mean that you don’t listen to me.
Me: Hello? Are you there?
Him: Yes. I’m listening.
Me: Our communication styles are totally different.
Him: Still listening.
Me: See? You never participate by volunteering your point of view. You just sit there quietly, only focused on listening to me.
This argument got completed and checked off the list in record time! He told me I wasn’t making any sense and then we were off to the races with things really escalating and it ended with him suggesting we see a therapist. Yes! We should go immediately and as luck would have it, tonight there was an opening. Because at this point, I was more than grateful to have a counselor guide us through the other two disagreements more professionally.
Me: I’m dissatisfied with the frequency we have intimate relations.
Him: Completely the first time I’m hearing this from her.
Therapist: Stephanie, would you like to have intimate relations more or less than you’re currently having them?
Me: (Damn my menopausal memory. Quickly trying to google that last article to find the answer) Uh, um….well… Give me just a second to decide.
Therapist: While she’s thinking it over, are there any other issues you’re having?
Him: None. Prior to today, we had zero trouble.
Therapist: Interesting. Stephanie would you agree that you haven’t had any problems until just now?
Me: Shoot. Don’t you get internet up here on the eighth floor? What’s your wi-fi password?
Therapist: Would you like to answer that last question, Stephanie?
Me: Well just going from sheer memory, there was one final 4th argument. Let me see….oh yes…one of us inherited a ton of money from the recent death of a parent and now we’re disagreeing on whether that money should go in our joint bank account.
Therapist: I’m very sorry for your loss. And that’s a super common argument for married couples to have.
Him: We’re not married.
Me: Are so.
Him: Are not.
Me: Are so.
Him: Are so.
Me: Are not . . .
Again, I was extraordinarily pleased with the expediency of our getting through all four of the recommended arguments in less than 24 hours, when suddenly the therapist intervened.
Therapist: I’m afraid you’ll have to continue this super UNcommon argument on your own time. Our session is over and I’m meeting my own husband for a delicious mushroom pizza!
In that instant my boyfriend and I both made equally intense expressions of disgust and revulsion. We linked our arms together and shot daggers with both sets of our extremely compatible eyes toward our mutual enemy, as we went home to partake in extremely satisfying intimate relations at just the right frequency.
READERS: What’s your opinion? Does every couple argue? And is how well you argue predictive of the future quality of your relationship? And most importantly, are you a mushroom lover?