Monday, May 22, 2006

Marital Fight Nostalgia

We were out to dinner with two friends last night, and they got into a huge argument in the parking lot. Unfortunately, they were our ride as we'd driven together to a restaurant an hour away. And they didn't seem to mind having their big fight in front of us.

At first, it was a bit socially awkward, but it ended up that standing there listening to them was quite instructive.

It showed pretty clearly how far TheCSO and I have come as a twosome. TheCSO and I regard ourselves as a team, and teamwork has well and truly broken down something like three times that we've been together. Otherwise, we've bitched at each other, sometimes taken frustrations out on one another before we figured out what we were doing, not always been totally great at supplying what the other needed. We're not perfect. But the idea of "us" is a truly central concept to us. Our friends have noted that to ask one of us how we are usually results in hearing about the other one as well.

We don't claim to be soulmates, but we're two people who understand one another well and are well-suited to building a life together. We're to the point now where the last time we argued, theCSO said "Why aren't we a team on this?" and we explored the issue that way.

We achieve a lot by giving one another space.

Anyway, like a lot of newlywed fights, our friends' fight took us back through the history of their last few fights. It was so obviously a stupid couple fight that they would get over that the CSO and I stood there in the parking lot and regarded one another with growing amusement.

It was so weird to watch. Our friends are still in the "competing-with-each-other-in-power-struggles-over-stupid-stuff" phase. Were we ever that immature with each other?

But some of the fights were quite recognizable. The main thrust of their fight was the classic "Husband's-long-time-close-friend-doesn't-like-the-wife-and-is-rude-to-her. What-duty-does-Husband-have-to-each-of-them?"

For us, it was almost nostalgia to watch them bitch at each other about that one. We had that fight such a long time ago.

Eventually, I said "Guys, you're not at the stage yet where an insult to your spouse feels like an insult to you. But it's going to happen."

"I'm already there," the husband said.

"No, you're not. People who are there don't have this fight. But there's nothing wrong with not being there yet. But suffice to say, you will grow apart from the friends who don't make friends with your spouse. Your friends don't have to be best friends with your spouse, but they have to treat your spouse with respect and not try to mess with your marriage. If they don't, you won't be friends with your friends any more. Even if you don't fight with them, eventually it just comes to be too much trouble to hang out with people whom your spouse doesn't get along with, especially if it is the friend who isn't making the effort. And besides, you like your spouse more."

Our friends looked at each other for a long moment.

"I don't want that to happen with you and Chris," wife said.

"Well, it will if you don't..." husband said.

And they were off agian.

TheCSO and I walked around the corner to lean up against the car, holding hands.

Our friends will get there. Every couple does it at different speeds.



PeaceBang said...

I hope they do get there. Friends who don't love your spouse is one thing. Friends who, as you say, "mess with your marriage" are best experienced in small, infrequent doses. Sad but true.

Anonymous said...

So, what happens when it's your spouse that has trouble getting along with your friends?