How We Fight

Add this query to that list couples are supposed to talk about before getting married: Do you like to fight? Because a 10-year study of 4,000 Massachusetts men and women shows how married couples argue directly affects their physical health.

Women who "self silence" during arguments were four times as likely to die during the decade-long study period vs. women who openly told their husbands how they felt, according to Marital Spats, Taken to Heart in yesterday's New York Times. It didn't matter whether the woman described her marriage as a happy or unhappy one. Another study that videotaped couples arguing, conducted by a psychology professor at the University of Utah, showed that the way a couple fights can be as important a risk factor in heart disease as smoking or high cholesterol.

"When you're suppressing communication and feelings during conflict with your husband, it's doing something very negative to your physiology, and in the long term it will affect your health," one of the Massachusetts study authors, epidemiologist Elaine Eaker, told the Times. "This doesn't mean women should start throwing plates at their husbands, but there needs to be a safe environment where both spouses can equally communicate."

My husband and I never had this conversation in our lovey-dovey days. Nor did we talk much about how many children to have, who would stay home with them, who'd be the major breadwinner, or how many times we'd move as a married couple. But we've gotten pretty good at fighting, I'm happy to report. Although sometimes I wish I could titrate my anger, I do think I'm healthier -- and our marriage is better -- because we argue openly over critical issues.

So: Do you like to fight? Do you prefer to avoid conflict? Do you think the way you fight affects your health and your relationship?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  October 3, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Conflicts
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Comments

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It's not fighting, it's called "conflict resolution".

To keep it fair, the kids get to be the referees.

Posted by: DandyLion | October 3, 2007 7:48 AM

First!

Frieda and I have not fought for the last 10 day at all!

Posted by: Fred | October 3, 2007 7:48 AM

OK, we tied for First!

Posted by: Fred | October 3, 2007 7:50 AM

We didn't tie Fred. I was first, you were second!

And I'm guessing Frieda has been out of town.

Posted by: DandyLion | October 3, 2007 7:58 AM

DH and do fight, but not all that often, and usually over small things. The big stuff, we discuss. Plus, we tend to have regular "so, how are you doing? Are you happy with the way our lives are going?" conversations, so we're usually up to speed on each others' worries and concerns.

Posted by: newsahm | October 3, 2007 8:00 AM

No, I was first!

And Frieda has been on her person vacation the last week while I have been holding down the homestead.

Nontheless, we did not fight!

Posted by: Fred | October 3, 2007 8:01 AM

I was first!

Posted by: DandyLion | October 3, 2007 8:06 AM

"Women who "self silence" during arguments were four times as likely to die during the decade-long study period vs. women who openly told their husbands how they felt"

I'm going to live forever

Posted by: educmom_615 | October 3, 2007 8:25 AM

Why can't I post a comment?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | October 3, 2007 8:25 AM

I think it was a particular word that wouldn't let me post!

We fight, but try to do it fairly. Often, we can't keep arguing because someone makes a joke or does something stupid and we're laughing. Which means we don't resolve the issue until the next time we fight, or we can talk about it more calmly after laughing. I think it's important to keep a sense of humor about things. I know that I can sometimes be high maintenance but I usually (and my husband agrees with this) recognize when I'm "being one" and laugh at myself. Laughing is the best way to end an argument -- next to makeup s***x.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | October 3, 2007 8:26 AM

DandyLion and Fred, please give us a break. This blog is not about you. There are some of us who really enjoy reading what others have to say about the topic, and your silly comments are a real drag. I'm sure that you have interesting thoughts, and readers would love to hear them. But comments like the ones you've already posted today really detract from the blog.

Posted by: amhass2002 | October 3, 2007 8:28 AM

"Why can't I post a comment?"

Operator error?

Posted by: DandyLion | October 3, 2007 8:28 AM

"your silly comments are a real drag"

amhass2002, your comment was even more meaningless and a bigger drag on the forum.

Posted by: DandyLion | October 3, 2007 8:33 AM

Our technicians call it PEBKAC

Problem exists between keyboard and chair . . .

Posted by: WorkingMomX | October 3, 2007 8:33 AM

Living a lie in any major way tends to affect mental & physical health.

There are some who provoke fights in order to have "make-up" sex.

Posted by: chittybangbang | October 3, 2007 8:34 AM

Whenever the research Leslie sites appears irrationally slanted towards a given gender someone always pops up to point it out.

Today, I'm that guy.

The write-up here is definitely implies/reinforces the notion that the standard situation is for husbands to fight in a loud, rowdy way and for the wives to "self-silence".

That may have been true in the baby boomer days. Live in the now, wouldja?

I've freely admitted that my wife-shopping was done amongst the professional set. Not a shrinking violet in the bunch. Doormat spouses are unattractive.

Having said that, I think the rules are basic - (1) No cheap shots: 'Yeah, well you're fat!!' (2) Don't escalate it: If it's a discussion right now, don't turn it into a fight (3) Not in front of the kids.

I have a fourth that I can't seem to get her to follow: (4) No third parties. Don't call your best friend to take your side. Unless she's an authority on the matter I don't care what she thinks....

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | October 3, 2007 8:34 AM

Damn, I forgot I was in church, must be more solemn!

Posted by: Fred | October 3, 2007 8:54 AM

ProudPapa -- the article I read about the MA study stated that there was no change for men whether they fought or self-silenced. Frankly I think it is a silly study because it tells us what we are already know -- get your issues out in the open, deal with them, live with them, own them, whatever and your emotional well-being benefits. Your physical health follows. (BTW even though study saw no difference perhaps it's because when men "self-silenced" it actually equals processing whatever just happened and moving on.)

Posted by: tntkate | October 3, 2007 8:54 AM

Hi Fred,
I can't speak for my ridemates, but I'm glad you got the Creepy Van (tm) back in running order!

Posted by: educmom_615 | October 3, 2007 8:58 AM

EducMom - My reaction exactly! Same as when the news came out that chocolate was good for you. I'm going to live forever!

Posted by: leslie4 | October 3, 2007 9:11 AM

Educmom,

Quit posting off topic, you will get me in trouble!

Yea, when the Creepy Van (tm) was broken, I suffered by driving the Infinti.

(Love bugs are out in full force here. They will ruin paint on a car in no time! You have to wash the bugs off the car every day if you like your paint job!)

Posted by: Fred | October 3, 2007 9:13 AM

Fred - Perry is in California and we haven't had a fight since he left! Maybe this implies that physical proximity encourages fighting.

Posted by: leslie4 | October 3, 2007 9:13 AM

What do you think your kids learn from how you handle conflict? As a single Mom, I worry my kids lack role models in terms of learning how adults/parents negotiate their differences.

Posted by: anne.saunders | October 3, 2007 9:14 AM

Anyone having trouble posting -- I had several comments "eaten" this morning too. I went back into Post A Comment and resigned in and it fixed it somehow. Try this...

Posted by: leslie4 | October 3, 2007 9:15 AM

anne.saunders -- I think my kids learn that a fight is not the end of the world, that people can fight and still love each other, that fighting happens between people who care about each other. Your children will learn from their arguments with you and with each other.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | October 3, 2007 9:17 AM

Big grain of salt, please. Repeat after me: correlation does not equal causation. This particular study was an epidemiological study, which included less than 4,000 subjects and was based entirely on what the subjects reported about their fights -- and over the period of the study, only 1% of the men and 0.05% of the women died. A pretty limited basis for such sweeping conclusions. There was a great article in the NYT Magazine a couple of weeks ago about the limits of epidemiology, for anyone who's interested.

If there is a causal link, I doubt this is exclusive to marriages -- I suspect someone who holds things in at home also holds things in everywhere else as well, and it may be that overall tendency/personality that is hazardous. Which wouldn't exactly be rocket science, either.

Posted by: laura33 | October 3, 2007 9:19 AM

Leslie, I forgot about chocolate! And I am a fanatical tea drinker too (never learned to love coffee). I wonder what it will be like to be 110...

Fred, I remember love bugs from living in Savannah. I couldn't drive with the convertible top down in September. They're icky but still preferable to "palmetto bugs"

Posted by: educmom_615 | October 3, 2007 9:19 AM

Leslie,

Yea, it is not too hard to ignore someone you are mad at when they are away. Also, I find that a little distance and time can cool each other off. You can reflect on what you did which may have been stupid but that you would never admit in the heat of an agrument.

Fred's obvious but not used enough tip about fighting--disenagage, walk away for a while. Just like you do with your teenagers--simply say, enough, we will talk about it later!

Posted by: Fred | October 3, 2007 9:20 AM

We occassionally have blow-outs, but they only last a few minutes and we follow up with some sort of resolution. We don't leave the house or go to bed angry. I lost a fiance to a car accident after an argument, and the last thing I said to him was ugly. This will not happen again in my lifetime if I can help it.

Please, people, keep your fights at home. Fighting in front of your friends and family is a real party pooper and reflects badly on you both.

Posted by: atb2 | October 3, 2007 9:22 AM

Here's a good line to memorize and it is very effective if you want to perpetuate the argument:

"I demand an apoloty. And just saying "sorry" ain't good enough!"

Posted by: DandyLion | October 3, 2007 9:26 AM

See similar study done a few years ago. It seems to be a better study. I love seeing how used the Framingham cohort is, though.

Hostile marital interactions, proinflammatory cytokine production, and wound healing.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2005 Dec;62(12):1377-84.

Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Loving TJ, Stowell JR, Malarkey WB, Lemeshow S, Dickinson SL, Glaser R.

Department of Psychiatry, Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, Ohio State University College of Medicine, 1670 Upham Drive, Columbus, OH 43210, USA. kiecolt-glaser.1@osu.edu

CONTEXT: A growing epidemiological literature has suggested that marital discord is a risk factor for morbidity and mortality. In addition, depression and stress are associated with enhanced production of proinflammatory cytokines that influence a spectrum of conditions associated with aging. OBJECTIVE: To assess how hostile marital behaviors modulate wound healing, as well as local and systemic proinflammatory cytokine production. DESIGN AND SETTING: Couples were admitted twice to a hospital research unit for 24 hours in a crossover trial. Wound healing was assessed daily following research unit discharge. PARTICIPANTS: Volunteer sample of 42 healthy married couples, aged 22 to 77 years (mean [SD], 37.04 [13.05]), married a mean (SD) of 12.55 (11.01) years. INTERVENTIONS: During the first research unit admission, couples had a structured social support interaction, and during the second admission, they discussed a marital disagreement. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Couples' interpersonal behavior, wound healing, and local and systemic changes in proinflammatory cytokine production were assessed during each research unit admission. RESULTS: Couples' blister wounds healed more slowly and local cytokine production (IL-6, tumor necrosis factor alpha, and IL-1beta) was lower at wound sites following marital conflicts than after social support interactions. Couples who demonstrated consistently higher levels of hostile behaviors across both their interactions healed at 60% of the rate of low-hostile couples. High-hostile couples also produced relatively larger increases in plasma IL-6 and tumor necrosis factor alpha values the morning after a conflict than after a social support interaction compared with low-hostile couples. CONCLUSIONS: These data provide further mechanistic evidence of the sensitivity of wound healing to everyday stressors. Moreover, more frequent and amplified increases in proinflammatory cytokine levels could accelerate a range of age-related diseases. Thus, these data also provide a window on the pathways through which hostile or abrasive relationships affect physiological functioning and health.

Posted by: atb2 | October 3, 2007 9:33 AM


Fully agree with ProudPapa's point about no third parties. Don't fight in front of somebody's parents, and don't try to bring your mother in on your side. Or your father, sister, best friend, co-worker, etc.

Fighting long-distance doesn't work; it only causes more problems. (And make-up sex is, well, difficult. :-) When I used to travel a lot, DW would call and be mad about something that happened, and take it out on me. Umm, I understand you're the single mom of 4 small kids for these two weeks but there's nothing I can do right now about the fact that the faucet's leaking, or that I didn't fill up your van before I left, or whatever. And yes it's unfair that I'm going out to a sports bar with the guys to drink beer, eat beef and watch the ball game while you're stuck with the kids, but I can't do anything about that right now, either.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | October 3, 2007 9:33 AM

DandyLion -- What is an apoloty?

Posted by: leslie4 | October 3, 2007 9:37 AM

atb:

"Wound healing"? Okay, I've got to ask - did they find couples with blister wounds to heal, and then put them in the study; or did they take healthy couples into the study and force them to get blister wounds so they could watch 'em heal? 'Cause if it's the latter, you know, that could impact their results in some way...

"Malarkey WB"

'Nuff said. :-)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | October 3, 2007 9:37 AM

Way to go ArmyBrat :-) Would it have made her feel better if you told her about the terrible room you had with the jacuzzi tub and wide screen tv, complementary mini bar and Temperpedic mattress?

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | October 3, 2007 9:38 AM

ArmyBrat

"When I used to travel a lot, DW would call and be mad about something that happened, and take it out on me."

Immature DW. Why did you encourage/tolerate the phone calls?

Posted by: chittybangbang | October 3, 2007 9:40 AM

Yeah, I knew I was going to make myself sound like a heel with that posting. :-)

KLB, the worst was when I had been upgraded to first class on the flight from Chicago to Hong Kong (that can happen when you're flying 400,000 miles a year) and then to a suite at the Conrad International hotel. I've never believed in lying to my wife about anything, but I've got to tell you it was sure tempting to lie about that. "No, dear, I had a middle seat in coach on a full flight - cattle car all the way. And I'm taking my life in my hands with this hotel room!" (Never did lie about it, but it was tempting, and I tried not to brag!)

And I did understand her frustrations and tried to listen and help all I could - let her vent; make suggestions ("call the plumber"); be supportive. But you just can't fight over the phone - it doesn't work and only leads to worse problems.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | October 3, 2007 9:55 AM

AryBart

"And I did understand her frustrations and tried to listen and help all I could - let her vent; make suggestions ("call the plumber"); be supportive."

Again, immature DW. "Call the plumber", DUH!!! She can't figure that out herself??

Why did you play into the needy act?

Posted by: chittybangbang | October 3, 2007 10:06 AM

(Let's try this again - I think the first one was victim to the comment-eating monster this morning..)

My parents have a really happy marriage, and they fight. No screaming, no throwing of things, no cheap shots - just run of the mill arguments, with occasional occurrences of my parents retreating to their own corners for a cool-down.

So my sibs and I are the same way. It clears the air and everyone can look each other in the eye at family gatherings.

My husband's family is insanely passive aggressive. People don't argue - they sulk, sigh dramatically, "forget" to do things, and hold silent grudges for years - both the men and the women. There's a cloud of long-standing resentment floating around when the whole clan gets together, you can sense it in the frequent cheap shots people take at each other.

My DH and I get along pretty well, but we do occasionally p*ss each other off. When we first got married, if I got angry with him, he assumed I wanted to leave him (only the unsuccessful marriages in his family had actual arguments/admitted anger). He would get all sad-eyed and ask if I loved him, instead of engaging the argument. This never resulted in a resolution of any kind, and it felt like he was trying to blackmail me emotionally (it wasn't what he was doing, but it was what it felt like).

If he was angry with me (and I could always tell when), he wouldn't tell me. He would just behave in the same way his parents do with the sighing, sulking, forgetting, etc. Again, no resolution....AND it would make me a little angry because I felt like he was acting like a child.

I finally convinced him we had to go to counseling to learn how to communicate effectively, and especially argue. (The therapist thought it was refreshing to have a couple do this proactively.)

He admits arguing still isn't easy for him, but it's getting easier. And he also admits he feels better after we argue since we can then resolve a whatever situation has caused the argument in the first place. I can almost see the glee on his face when we settle an argument, like a weight has been lifted.

Out marriage is definitely healthier for those few sessions of counseling....and the occasional arguments.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | October 3, 2007 10:10 AM

"What is an apoloty?" Leslie good question.

Most of the apologies I hear today, especially from politicians/celebs, are not apologies at all. In fact, the way the apoloty is stated actually puts the falt on the people that the apology was offered to. some examples listed below:
1. I'm sorry you feel that way.
2. I'm sorry you can't understand what I'm trying to communicate
3. I'm sorry that I offended anybody.
4. I'm sorry, but... fill in justification here]

Notice how all the above examples justifies the apologizer, and at the same time, puts the blame on the interpretation of those offended.

A genuin apology takes the form of:
1. What i did or said was wrong
2. I recognize the damage it did
3. I'll try my best never to make the same mistake again

Posted by: DandyLion | October 3, 2007 10:18 AM

DandyLion

"I'll try my best never to make the same mistake again"

Nope - this sets up the possibilty that the "mistake" will happen again and the word "mistake" is suspect.

Posted by: chittybangbang | October 3, 2007 10:30 AM

Sorry if this is a duplicate post: I think the art of compromise is a lost art on my generation (I married three years ago, at 37). I disagree a lot with my wife and find she's very unyielding. Sometimes the only way I can get what I want is to give her an ultimatum. Last time I did this, I was looking for a hotel to spend the night and only heard back from her just before I was checking in. My generation and younger was raised to put ourselves first. I think that's causing real problems in our marriages (including myself in this criticism.)

Posted by: bobh1967 | October 3, 2007 10:44 AM

Nope - this sets up the possibilty that "the "mistake" will happen again and the word "mistake" is suspect."{{

Well, chittybangbang, I disagree and I'm sorry you feel that way. :-)

Posted by: DandyLion | October 3, 2007 10:58 AM

BTW: I think a lot of posts are getting eaten today, and it's not what WorkingMomX's description of PEKPAC.

Hint: If you see both the "Click Hear to Post a Comment" link, and the comment edit box, click on the "click Here.." link, otherwise it will end up in outer cyberspace.

Posted by: DandyLion | October 3, 2007 11:05 AM

Women who "self silence" during arguments

BWAAAAAAAA! W here are these women who "self silence"? I would like to meet ONE during my lifetime. That's a knee slapper!

Posted by: pATRICK | October 3, 2007 11:18 AM

Another comment about Fred and his crowd and their comments - I have just about given up on participating in this blog, as it seems to be more and more about this group of people, and their cars and their songs, etc. (I'm sure they don't mind that I've given up). Leslie, you may want to think about whether you are losing your audience (and if you care about that).

Posted by: jjtwo | October 3, 2007 11:23 AM

Proud Papa and Laura,

The second study mentioned, though, I found interesting and not just stereotypical/common sense. (summary appended below)

I grew up with a verbal sniper, who dealt with disagreement with demeaning, controlling comments . . . and I'm not surprised that kind of habitual attack produces health consequences. I used to get the worst headaches brought on by conflict, the kind that make you want to pierce your eardrums to release the painful pressure behind them. Those disappeared entirely when I left that house.

Though they're parenting books, I've really found the Faber and Mazlisch books _Siblings Without Rivalry_ and _How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk_ the most helpful for getting attuned to destructive fighting styles and developing warmhearted, respectful ways to manage conflict. I needed to unlearn the defensive habit, the need to one-up any sarcasm or criticism or teasing, or else become a doormat. With good intentions, I found establishing fair and kind ways of disagreeing - or even of imposing authority as a parent - was mostly a matter of building good habits and those books really helped. (Also helps to choose a kind-hearted partner who also abides certain ground rules to stay kind and fair)

DH and I don't disagree much. . . mainly the occasional "I could really use some help here" or "Ugh, our house is really getting out of control", but as we both struggle to keep up and both take the occasional break, we understand each other well and each try to buck up where needed . . . on issues like how long to visit/be visited by relatives, etc, we both bring all of our differing points forward, but we're a team and we're good at laying everything out and prioritizing each other's wants as well as our own . . .

I am grateful to have a partner rather than an opponent, and to have learned to be a partner myself.

The second study summary is below

---
kbatl

"The men and women were mostly in their 60s, had been married on average for more than 30 years and had no signs of heart disease. The couples were given stressful topics to discuss, like money or household chores, and the comments made during the ensuing arguments were categorized as warm, hostile, controlling or submissive. The men and women also underwent heart scans to measure coronary artery calcium, an indicator of heart disease risk.
. . . the way the couple interacted was as important a heart risk factor as whether they smoked or had high cholesterol . . . .
For women, whether a husband's arguing style was warm or hostile had the biggest effect on her heart health. . . .
But arguing style affected men and women differently. The level of warmth or hostility had no effect on a man's heart health. For a man, heart risk increased if disagreements with his wife involved a battle for control. And it didn't matter whether he or his wife was the one making the controlling comments. "

Posted by: kbatl | October 3, 2007 11:25 AM

Thanks, DandyLion! you spotted the "post-eating" bug exactly!

Posted by: kbatl | October 3, 2007 11:27 AM

I hate this type of subject. People paint themselves in the best light, you don't get all the facts and then the pats on the back come.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 3, 2007 11:29 AM

We seem to be able to compromise well because both of us are fairly flexible, so if only one person cares deeply about the issue that person usually gets his/her way. If both care deeply then we just talk it out. We fight more because I take things very personally and DH doesn't, so he can keep going on and on about some matter of principle (for him) that involves, for example, one of my friends who has violated that matter of principle in his eyes, and he won't drop it even when it would be easier to because he believes he's right. And I get so angry because I might agree with him in principle but not when it comes to my friend. Maybe I am just more capable of cognitive dissonance than he is.

Posted by: teaspoon2007 | October 3, 2007 11:30 AM

I admit I have trouble emotionally dealing with conflict, with my wife or with anyone else. I feel afraid when someone is angry or upset at me, like something bad is going to happen. I also feel defective, because the anger means that something is wrong with me. I experience this with almost everyone to some degree, where I want to hide until the person isn't angry at me anymore. My wife is a wonderful woman, and I hate giving her the impression that she's a tyrant. But a few times when she's gotten seriously angry, I've actually become nauseous and dizzy. I would have the same reaction no matter what her personality was like.

Posted by: Carstonio | October 3, 2007 11:32 AM

I've never really liked the term "fighting". Or, really, what I should say is that my wife disagree and argue, but if things lead to "fighting", then it means the communication process has broken down.

To me, "fighting" is too far to one side, just as not expressing your feelings is too far to the other side. There's a loving way to communicate and have disagreements -- and then there's fighting.

So, to answer the questions: I don't like to fight OR avoid conflict. As always, there's a middle ground there.

Posted by: rlalumiere | October 3, 2007 11:40 AM

Carstonio, I understand completely, I am the same way and I think that's why it's easy for me to get angry at DH, because he never gets angry back. If he did, forget it. He got angry at me one time and I swore I would never let it happen again. I get so annoyed at him because I want everyone to be happy and like each other and get along nicely and it annoys me that he doesn't want that too. Maybe that's why I like this blog so much, the sniping makes me feel like it's ok for reasonable and unreasonable people to disagree! And to whoever gets annoyed at Fred et al, I disagree. Sorry but I like the friendly banter, it balances everything out.

Posted by: teaspoon2007 | October 3, 2007 11:42 AM

One of the things that drives me crazy with women and (my wife)is the pass they give their friends. Cheating on husband, well she is my friend, cheating with someone else husband? well she is my friend. Emotional wreck? well she is my friend. Gone to prison for international espionage? well she is my friend (OK being funny but thye NEVER tell them you need to straighten up! They avoid conflict like the plague with their friends.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 3, 2007 11:44 AM

I hate this type of subject. People paint themselves in the best light, you don't get all the facts and then the pats on the back come.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 3, 2007 11:29 AM

Win some you lose some. I'm fascinated by the topic since this problem sunk my marriage. Ex-DH came from family where any conflict he witnessed was at high volume. That was not my style but I did try it when other avenues failed to get his attention. Then he'd out-yell me and I found my then-toddler hiding in fear behind the laundry hamper. So I shut up. We went to counseling but he never believed there was a communication problem so we were never able to find a middle ground. Believe you me, my health improved immeasurably post divorce! I caught every bug under the sun until the split. Now I can't believe how healthy I am. After all that I'm scared to so much as date! So I'll learn anything anyone has to teach me on this subject.

Posted by: anne.saunders | October 3, 2007 11:46 AM

The thing I regret most about the failure of my marriage is all the truly hurtful things that my ex-husband and I said to one another. I absolutely will not engage in heated battle. It's driving my current lover crazy. When we have a disagreement and it begins to heat up, I walk away (or hang up the phone). I cut off communication until the emotional level drops. He hates it--he wants immediate resolution. I've learned the hard way that once those hurtful words are out there, they become a painful memory. You can't unring a bell...no matter how much you apologize.

Posted by: pepperjade | October 3, 2007 11:48 AM

To me, "fighting" is too far to one side, just as not expressing your feelings is too far to the other side. There's a loving way to communicate and have disagreements -- and then there's fighting.

I respectfully disagree, conflict is inevitable. People compete and have different desires and desired outcomes, have feelings that get hurt, and emotional spins on what has happened. Once you realize conflict is inevitable you will be better able to handle it rather than running frrm it, hiding from it or wishing it would go away.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 3, 2007 11:48 AM

Patrick: yes, conflict is inevitable, but the rules of engagement are the key to successful conflict resolution. There are fair fights and there are dirty fights. I've been knee-deep in some truly ugly fights with my ex-husband and will never go there again.

Posted by: pepperjade | October 3, 2007 11:53 AM

pATRICK, yep, that would be me. I think because it feels like an attack on me somehow if he attacks something my friend did, like I failed in some way even if the friend DID get arrested for international espionage. It's definitely not rational. Why DON'T guys feel that way? DH doesn't get annoyed when I criticize his friends. What am I missing? I would love to not be this way--give me another way to think about it and I will give it a shot.

Posted by: teaspoon2007 | October 3, 2007 11:53 AM

amhass2002 and jjtwo

To make you two happy and promote democracy on the blog, I will not post for a while, maybe a long while.

This will allow you two to post serious and insightful comments which you infer that I am preventing you from doing.

The Creepy Van (tm) is going along with me.

Bye!

(Maybe Leslie will bring bababooey back with all of its germane comments!)

Posted by: Fred | October 3, 2007 11:55 AM

pATRICK, yep, that would be me. I think because it feels like an attack on me somehow if he attacks something my friend did, like I failed in some way even if the friend DID get arrested for international espionage

Congratulation for having the courage to admit that this is going on. I don't know if you can change, I just can tell you that you are NOT responsible for anyone but yourself. No one is thinking that someone else's behavior is any way your fault or responsibility. I personall would drop a 'friend' instantly if they committed a felony or something.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 3, 2007 11:57 AM

No Fred don't go!!

Posted by: anne.saunders | October 3, 2007 11:57 AM

Teaspoon2007, do you mean that you are also afraid of other people's anger? Or do you mean that your husband is afraid when you become angry at him? I almost never become angry, and when I do the anger is almost immediately replaced by guilt. Once my wife deliberately took an unreasonable position on an issue (and this is by her own admission) just to make me angry. It worked, and I apologized almost immediately for getting angry, and then she revealed the ruse. I know that it's wrong to treat everyone as though I have to walk on eggshells around them, but others' disapproval is frightening to me.

Posted by: Carstonio | October 3, 2007 11:58 AM

"When we have a disagreement and it begins to heat up, I walk away (or hang up the phone). I cut off communication until the emotional level drops. He hates it--"

Of course he hates it, you are being VERY disrespectful. why he is upset is not even
worth you sticking around to find out why. Do you do this with your boss too? Just hang up or walk away? I doubt it.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 3, 2007 12:00 PM

Patrick, I don't think it's disrespectful to disengage from a shouting match. I don't walk away until he begins to berate me--then I cut off all communication until I am assured that civility is restored. Trust me, I can scrap harder than most men, and I have verbally eviscerated others--which is why I do not ever want to engage in this sort of behavior. I would rather he be angry with me for something I did not say rather than for something I did say.

My boss...that is a much different relationship, but I have a very good relationship with my boss...in spite of the fact I flipped him off twice...

Posted by: pepperjade | October 3, 2007 12:06 PM

Hi Fred, maybe instead of being flippant, you could just look at this from someone else's point of view. I rarely have the opportunity to read these blogs during the day, but always enjoyed looking at them at home in the evening. Lately, though, many, many of the posts are about a van (?), made up songs, sharks (?) and other things that are not at all related to the blog topic. So I give up reading long before I have read through the whole blog.

I'm sure it is fun to have this blog be like a neighborhood coffee klatch, where everyone knows each other and can share inside jokes. Its just not a whole lot of fun for those of us who aren't a part of it. So I'd like it more if your crowd just eased off a little bit to make this experience better for the rest of us. And, I am definitely not singling you out with my comments, you are just the one the other poster mentioned.

And finally, if Leslie thinks it is ok for this blog to move in this direction, well then, maybe its not for me. In that case, I'll go somewhere else. Which is why I asked her what she thought.


Posted by: jjtwo | October 3, 2007 12:18 PM

Carstonio, I mean that I am also afraid of other people's anger (not people being annoyed, that I can take although I don't like it, but real honest-to-god anger scares me). I will do a lot to avoid that--there are people I just try to stay away from because I know their boiling point is so high.

pATRICK--fortunately no one has committed any felonies! and I have dropped friends who have done things that were just really wrong and mean although I did everything I could not to have to. (see above, it was very very hard and also very hard not to feel guilty about it) But when it's a choice between a friend whose behavior is not right and my family, I stand with my family, period the end. I think you are right and it's more a question of stepping back and remembering that it's not about me(!concept!). It's just that I have to make a very conscious decision about it. Thanks, appreciate the insight.

Posted by: teaspoon2007 | October 3, 2007 12:29 PM

jjtwo, why don't you just come and join the party? It's one of those things where you get as much out of it as you put into it.

Yes, it's all about the people, not the content. That's why we all have posting names.

I'm sorry if you don't understand. :-)

Posted by: DandyLion | October 3, 2007 12:33 PM

I don't like the term fighting either. To me, fighting is what my sister and I did in elementary school when we would try to pull each other's hair out.

My husband and I do not "fight". When we disagree, we talk about things until we figure out something that will work for both of us. We don't hold things in or bottle things up, but we don't yell and scream either.

Posted by: klynnwilder | October 3, 2007 12:36 PM

Fred

"To make you two happy and promote democracy on the blog, I will not post for a while, maybe a long while."

Pouting won't solve the problem!

Posted by: chittybangbang | October 3, 2007 12:37 PM

Does anybody else get satisfaction out of slamming the phone down and yelling an exquisitive?

it was a lot more fun back in the day when phones contained real bells and made much more noise than today's phones when the handset smacked the cradle.

Posted by: DandyLion | October 3, 2007 12:44 PM

Ugh the post ate my post! Pardon if this is similar wording to an early post or turns out to be a double...

jjtwo - if you stick around long enough you'll get to know all the ins and outs of everyone's stories. It makes it fun, kind of like getting together at a coffee shop with your friends to talk something over. Much more interesting than merely shouting your opinion at strangers.

I'm not sure of the semantics of "fighting" veruss arguing. Anyways, we frequently bicker in a friendly manner, usually about something not important (someone else's life, the way we'll do the yard in 10 years from now, what we'll name our next cat). I think we both enjoy it and it lets off some steam since bickering with coworkers is tricky, and we only see families on weekends. My household growing up was a whole lot of out-and-out screaming matches, but my parents are still together and still in love. I've learned to forgive easily, though have a tendency to raise my voice too quickly. Husband's family much quieter, infrequent out-and-out arguing, a matriarchal family where his Mom basically ruled the roost, and he had 2nd post. So long as he didn't disagree with her there was and continues to be order, everyone else was a weak personality.

We do have more serious arguments maybe once every two to three months, usually about me wanting to travel somewhere. He is not a traveller, enjoys staying at home, and hates giving up his weekends to go anywhere overnight. It was difficult to get him to go to Hawaii (we went, but there were a lot of arguments leading up to it...) and anytime I have the desire to travel again it usually brings on an argument. He's willing to travel to certain places in the 'future' but not now, and not to anywhere we can afford. On money, politics, careers, education, life plans, geographic location, cars, and no-kids we are on the same page. So I think that helps. I think the friendly bickering lets us get some of the "fight" out of our systems after long days at work, and neither of us takes it very seriously (no cheap shots, as someone said earlier) and we can forgive, laugh, and move on very quickly.

Posted by: _Miles | October 3, 2007 12:51 PM

Women who "self silence" during arguments

BWAAAAAAAA! W here are these women who "self silence"? I would like to meet ONE during my lifetime. That's a knee slapper!

Posted by: pATRICK | October 3, 2007 11:18 AM

Hello, pATRICK, my name is Sue, and I self-silence most of the time.

Reasons:
my family dynamics growing up;
DH has a big, deep, baritone voice and I can't get a word in;
DH has significant control issues (let's skip his Dickensinian life history - it's too long for a blog post, and I don't like it when people accuse me of lying or making things up) and *will* *NOT* *stop* arguing until he "wins";
when it later turns out that I'm right, I get to say "I told you so", but when I'm wrong (it's rare, but does happen), I don't have to admit it or apologize because I never said it - or it wasn't heard before I clammed up.

Just because you haven't met one of us before, that doesn't mean we don't exist.

And yes, we've spent a whole lot of time in counseling. We wouldn't have lasted 20 years without it.

Posted by: sue | October 3, 2007 1:06 PM

Neither my husband nor I are big arguers or bickerers. Which suits us; I spend an afternoon at my SIL's house, and much as I love them and they seem happy overall, the constant bickering over little stuff just wears at me.

But we probably do err too much on the side of just not saying anything. I just hate conflict, period -- plus I'm not real good orally, so when I'm upset at something, I tend to mentally freeze and start crying and not be able to get the words out in a way that makes sense. He tends to be a guy/engineer -- he doesn't see much value in talking about things; he prefers problems that he can see and touch and go fix.

So when something's bugging me, I'll rehearse what to say in my head over and over, to try to make the point in a way that will start a conversation without provoking a fight (and that I won't forget when under the gun). In one particular case that I was really worked up over, I actually had to write my thoughts down on paper, so I could rework them again and again until it sounded right; then I just gave him the paper (which he carefully read, looked at me, and said, "ok"). When something's bugging him, he operates under the "ignore it and it'll go away" theory, and either kills things on the computer or heads out to the shop until he feels better. Unless, of course, it bugs him so much that his grumpiness starts to bug me; then we cycle back to me figuring out how to raise the issue.

The good news is that we really don't disagree about too many things -- and when we do, like someone else said, generally the person who doesn't care as much cedes to the person to whom it really matters. And humor helps a lot -- as does perspective, (ie, realizing that where you go to dinner, or which ceiling fan, is NOT The Most Important Decision You'll Ever Make).

Posted by: laura33 | October 3, 2007 1:12 PM

pATRICK

"BWAAAAAAAA! W here are these women who "self silence"? I would like to meet ONE during my lifetime. That's a knee slapper!"

Your mother?

Posted by: chittybangbang | October 3, 2007 1:13 PM

Again this article assumes it is the woman who self-silences. In my case, I love a good airing of feelings and it's my husband who can't deal. He walks away until he thinks the issue will either go away or he's calmed down enough to talk. It's his way of avoiding the conflict, something he gets from his family who doesn't talk about ANYTHING. I try not to let him get away with it but I wouldn't call it a successful strategy for resolving conflict.

Posted by: kk | October 3, 2007 1:18 PM

Your mother?

Posted by: chittybangbang


bwaaaaa!!! number 2. That's also a knee slapper!

Posted by: pATRICK | October 3, 2007 1:28 PM

One of the things that drives me crazy with women and (my wife)is the pass they give their friends. Cheating on husband, well she is my friend, cheating with someone else husband? well she is my friend.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 3, 2007 11:44 AM

My college friends and I had a saying: "I can be disapproving of your behavior and supportive of you at the same time." We expressed the disapproval but recognized that the bad behavior didn't completely negate our friendship.

Posted by: kk | October 3, 2007 1:29 PM

In all fairness pATRICK, it's not just women.

Two additional groups I can think of off the top of my head would be Atheletes and Republicans.

For example, how do you feel about congressman Vitter? DeLay? Gingrich? Limbaugh?

I'm half snarking, but you get my point.

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | October 3, 2007 1:29 PM

pATRICK

"your mother"

"bwaaaaa!!! number 2. That's also a knee slapper!

Hasn't your mother (and you) tolerated (in silence)your father being an emotional bully for years and years?

I take it that "knee slapper" is a regional expression and give you the benefit of the doubt...

Posted by: chittybangbang | October 3, 2007 1:34 PM

My husband is the self-silencer - he completely shuts down when something upsets him. I am far less likely to do so, though I do as a general rule find it useful to wait to bring something up if I'm angry instead of busting out in the heat of the moment. So often my anger is about something else entirely, so I find it's better to go cool my jets, figure out if I'm still upset, and address it calmly. Not that I always manage it, but having had a temper all my life I've had a lot of practice, LOL.

With my husband, it's a process of giving him some space but also making sure at some point we figure out what it was that sent him into silence.

Posted by: LizaBean | October 3, 2007 1:46 PM

«To make you two happy and promote democracy on the blog, I will not post for a while, maybe a long while.»
«(Maybe Leslie will bring bababooey back with all of its germane comments!)»
«Posted by: Fred | October 3, 2007 11:55 AM»

Today, «How We Fight» is Leslie's topic. Fighting, see how it has driven away Fred, the «quote of the day», who will now select it? Fighting, see what fighting has done, peace, salaam, sulh, is not peace better than fighting? Cannot we all get along? This holy month of Ramadan, cannot we take time, that we take time to think, how we can get along instead of fighting? Joyous feast of Eid ul-Fitr, this year Friday the 13th, it will come on a Saturday, but still a joyous feast, time to celebrate getting along, so let us all get along until end of Ramadan and feast on October 13th.

Posted by: abu_ibrahim | October 3, 2007 1:47 PM

jjtwo, and anyone else who doesn't like the friendly, gossipy nature of this blog:

Oh, for pity sakes, this isn't a CLIQUE! It's just a bunch of people yapping. It's interesting, it's fun, I learn a lot, and people's stories give perspective to their viewpoints and arguments. You're invited to join in anytime...unless you drive away Fred (pun intended).

I think the point of the article was that when men self-silence their health is not affected, but I kind of doubt that. As a woman who definitely does NOT self-silence (I come from a long line of the vocal and opinionated, and long-lived) I just can't see how it could be healthy for anybody to 'bottle it all up' although I know some folks do...

Posted by: educmom__615 | October 3, 2007 1:51 PM

ccbb, knee'slapper is a grandpa expression -- what the old codgers use to refer to a joke so funny, you bend over laughing & slap your knees.
Does the fact I even know that make me old?!?!

Posted by: educmom__615 | October 3, 2007 1:55 PM

Abu

"Fighting, see how it has driven away Fred, the «quote of the day», who will now select it?"

Fred has a very thin skin. For Pete's sake, it's the Net.

Fred has chosen to pout, go away and threatened to go away for a long time (which might eliminate the Quote of the Day....). Oh, no!!

Hope Fred's 5 kids haven't picked up these immature behaviors. Sheesh!

Posted by: chittybangbang | October 3, 2007 1:56 PM

You call it thin skin. I call it self-respect. Potato, potato. Does insulting Fred make you feel all big and strong, chitty?

Posted by: MN | October 3, 2007 2:05 PM

Hasn't your mother (and you) tolerated (in silence)your father being an emotional bully for years and years?


well, chitty, you sound an awful lot like IT and mysteriously ABU has shown up now too. Anyone who has read anything I wrote would be hard pressed to call me the suffering in silence type, my mom makes her voice heard too.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 3, 2007 2:06 PM

My first marriage failed because we couldn't argue (or communicate for that matter) effectively. I am one to speak up and air things out, and I do like to resolve things quickly, even if that means a robust argument. My ex did not like conflict, and would do anything to avoid it, including self-silencing, retreating, and doing passive aggressive things instead. He thought my way was too aggressive, and I felt very frustrated by his need to pretend that everything was always fine, even as he played a game of gotcha that he always found a way of denying responsibility for afterwards.

My current husband and I have more compatible approaches. He is not intimidated by strong differences in opinion, and a robust argument does not signal the end of the relationship to either of us. We also tend to be able, even in the midst of a big disagreement, to see the funny side of things, and often end up laughing at ourselves even as we try to hold on to whatever ridiculous thread of argument that made us laugh in the first place. We also have some ground rules, like no berating or cheap shots, and if one person does feel the need to walk away, he/she will come back within the hour to finish, and not just walk away indefinitely and leave the other person twisting in the wind. Neither of us holds grudges, we are both quick to forgive, and we never go to bed angry at each other. Also, no third parties allowed as spectators or referees. We learned to abide by that rule very early on.

Posted by: Emily | October 3, 2007 2:18 PM

I'm with Carstonio and teaspoon. I was the family peacemaker. My parents fought constantly and eventually divorced, so I hate hearing people yell--I don't even like it in movies. My husband comes from a family of yellers and screamers and fighters, so he thinks it's normal.

We're still trying to figure out how to fight better because we both just end up frustrated and even angrier than when we started. The thing is, we can have heated debates about politics or religion and debate for hours. But as soon as we debate about chores or money, and feelings get involved, the debate turns into a fight.

The one rule we've tried to keep in mind is to make the criticism constructive, not hurtful.

Posted by: Meesh | October 3, 2007 2:20 PM


Those of you annoyed with spouses who retreat or take a time out from conflict --- how do you cope with your kids? Surely some of you have kids that disintegrate at the merest reproach or harsh edge, or that hide away when they feel humiliated or reproached? I have one who disintegrates and another who barely listens *until* she hears a harsh edge (sometimes, anyway).

Not letting someone retreat who really wants to --- who can't cope with being corrected or criticized or dissected right now --- steps over into browbeating pretty quickly. It frustrates me sometimes how easily my daughter's escape-conflict buttons can be triggered - and how once triggered she is totally incapable of quickly regaining composure and continuing a conversation. But really, when it happens, the moment for bringing the situation to agreeable closure is gone, she truly needs the time to resettle herself before any constructive dialogue can possibly occur. I understand because I was the same way as a kid (though of course I was much more justified and reasonable about it ;-) )

This daughter had one unfortunate runin with a new teacher, who was very control/ discipline- oriented, one first week of school. The teacher took a misunderstanding and escalated it step by step into a do-not-defy-me-you-must-obey-now power struggle that ended up with my child hiding under her jacket on her desk (very rare, they usually love my shy retiring child who's a pleaser and avoids teacher censure at all costs). The teacher then told me I should teach my daughter to look at adults when they're talking to her! (umm, browbeating her, you mean! no thanks--- I got that line too often from a blustering bullying father to ever insist on it from a child of mine. And I drew my conclusions about the teacher's approach from the note she herself wrote me about what happened, my daughter was too ashamed to say anything about it.)

Of course one expects more self-composure from adults, but still, to think retreat from conflict is all about respect or thwarting (that is, all about you) is amiss . . . if there's a clash in desires on how to handle a conflict I think the one who wants to cool off/settle should be respected . . . adults benefit from time outs, too. There should be a clear pattern or agreement to deal with the issues later when calm, though, not just to submerge them indefinitely. And there should be every attempt to find a style of arguing that doesn't provoke such fight-or-flight reactions.

I'm so confident about the teen years . . . not.

Posted by: kbatl | October 3, 2007 2:22 PM

BTW, fighting in public has got to be the most embarrassing thing for me to see or be a part of. It's so classless.

I had friends who loved to fight in public. I think it was their forplay.

Posted by: Meesh | October 3, 2007 2:26 PM

WTF is wrong with the posting today?

Posted by: pATRICK | October 3, 2007 2:39 PM

pATRICK, I think DandyLion figured out the posting problem, see if his hint helps:

Hint: If you see both the "Click Hear to Post a Comment" link, and the comment edit box, click on the "click Here.." link, otherwise it will end up in outer cyberspace.

Posted by: kbatl | October 3, 2007 2:44 PM

"Surely some of you have kids that disintegrate at the merest reproach or harsh edge, or that hide away when they feel humiliated or reproached? I have one who disintegrates and another who barely listens *until* she hears a harsh edge (sometimes, anyway)."

Good Lord, kbatl, I think you have my kids! And one of the same teachers, too. . . .

Posted by: laura33 | October 3, 2007 2:45 PM

had friends who loved to fight in public. I think it was their forplay

Like that SNL skit?, that was funny!

Posted by: pATRICK | October 3, 2007 2:48 PM

kbatl, I thought your comments about cooling off and/or disintegrating were spot on, thank you. Someone who needs to walk away but is willing to come back and address the issue once things have cooled downis not being disrespectful or thwarting, they are trying to become rational. Of course, if the person who is walking away has shown that they are not willing to come back to the issue even when things have cooled off, or will not ever be able to finish the discussion, that might be different. But as a general rule, I think when someone needs to walk away -- or have some silence -- that should be respected.

Posted by: LizaBean | October 3, 2007 2:54 PM

An effective communicator has the ability to seperate emotion from the content of their argument. You can't reason with emotion. that's why I'm comfortable around angry people. they are very easy to control.

I also like troublemakers too, like Leslie, pATRICK, ATB, EducMom, Emily and Chitybangbang. Haven't figured that one out yet, but the reason we find others attractive has more to do with emotion, not logic.

but back to trying to reason with emotion. Have you ever seen a child throwing a tantrum and watch the parent try to explain to the child why they shouldn't be upset? Once the emotional side of a person takes over, you can throw logic out the window. doesn't apply. When a discussion comes to this, playing the quiet card is most likely the best strategy to reach a resolution.

Posted by: DandyLion | October 3, 2007 2:59 PM

Surely some of you have kids that disintegrate at the merest reproach or harsh edge, or that hide away when they feel humiliated or reproached


Honestly, this would scare the hell out of me if my kids were doing this. Hopefully they will outgrow it.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 3, 2007 3:01 PM

I also like troublemakers too, like Leslie, pATRICK, ATB, EducMom, Emily and Chitybangbang. Haven't figured that one out yet, but the reason we find others attractive has more to do with emotion, not logic.

Don't forget MEHITABEL. I think someone said it best when they said "these people like to throw grenades at a tea party". I thought that was very clever. The highest compliment that I can give.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 3, 2007 3:05 PM

kids that disintegrate at the merest reproach or harsh edge

Accurately described my sister for many, many years...all I can say is, go over the top in both word and deed to let the child know he/she is LOVED and be very gentle but firm. My sister was and still is better at punishing herself than anyone else around her could possibly be. Shame on that teacher.

Posted by: teaspoon2007 | October 3, 2007 3:20 PM

teaspoon2007

"My sister was and still is better at punishing herself than anyone else around her could possibly be. Shame on that teacher."

Here, here! Shame on all the bad teachers!

Posted by: chittybangbang | October 3, 2007 3:31 PM

Chitty wrote: "Hope Fred's 5 kids haven't picked up these immature behaviors."

FIVE children? Um, do you know something that Fred doesn't???

Posted by: mehitabel | October 3, 2007 3:32 PM

Chitty--

Where? Where?

Posted by: teaspoon2007 | October 3, 2007 3:36 PM

Teaspoon2007, if you're afraid of honest-to-god anger, then why do you get angry at your husband? I'm not trying to sound accusatory. I don't understand why other people don't feel guilty or ashamed after they get angry. Aren't they scared of losing control? How can they be sure that they're in the right and the other person is in the wrong? It should be possible for two people to have a disagreement without either party acting like an authority figure.

Posted by: Carstonio | October 3, 2007 3:44 PM

Carstonio, Hmm. Maybe frustrated is a better word for how I feel in those arguments (which are pretty one-sided because he never gets angry back). When I feel myself losing control, I stop. I guess I'm more afraid of other people's anger because I can't control where they will go with it and I am afraid it will come out at me. My own, I have learned how to control. I have learned not to "hit below the belt", not to name-call, not to say the things that I will regret. I love him and need him way too much to want to really hurt him--of that I am very much afraid and I won't do it. There is just a very clear line that I will not cross because I am terrified of the consequences. I couldn't live with that sick desperate feeling. So I guess I'm not afraid of myself losing control because I've learned how to do it, and I know the line for me, but I am very afraid of other people doing so. Not sure if that makes sense.

Posted by: teaspoon2007 | October 3, 2007 3:59 PM

Me? A troublemaker? OK, I guess that's not the first time I've heard that. It's not about causing trouble, though. You have to accept that I cannot possibly know what's going to offend one person or excite another. I have no interest in being bland. Have a happy joy joy day, citizen!

re: cooling off. I used to need that cooling off period, so I can appreciate it, but please announce that you need a cooling off period. It actually diffuses things. It means you recognize that it's not over, so you will be revisiting this later with a level head. Nothing gets accomplished when you're out of sorts.

Posted by: atb2 | October 3, 2007 4:36 PM

Oh, and when someone tells you they need to cool off, do not follow them to the library as they repeat over and over, we can talk about this when I've settled down. Back off!

Posted by: atb2 | October 3, 2007 4:42 PM

Atb: "You have to accept that I cannot possibly know what's going to offend one person or excite another."

Isn't one of the goals in raising a child is to teach him/her to take other people's feelings into account, to learn to become sympathetic and empathetic, rather than to be totally self-centered?

Posted by: mehitabel | October 3, 2007 4:46 PM

"You have to accept that I cannot possibly know what's going to offend one person or excite another"

C'mon, really? I suspect that there are some things you know perfectly well will offend or excite and you act accordingly; a lot of things you could reasonably anticipate might offend or excite but you don't care; and some things you really can't anticipate either way. I also suspect that the real question is only how large that middle category is.

Posted by: LizaBean | October 3, 2007 4:48 PM

I agree, LizaBean. I'd add that one should be even better at reasonably anticipating what will offend someone s/he truly loves, in order to avoid it saying something hurtful. When partners disagree (which naturally occurs from time to time even in the best of relationships, one can then work out the differences rationally and calmly.

Posted by: mehitabel | October 3, 2007 4:53 PM

(Corrected version):

I agree, LizaBean. I'd add that one should be even better at reasonably anticipating what will offend someone s/he truly loves, in order to avoid saying something hurtful. When partners disagree (which naturally occurs from time to time in even the best of relationships), one can then work out the differences rationally and calmly.

Posted by: mehitabel | October 3, 2007 4:55 PM

ATB, I recognize the importance of the cooling-off period for the person who requests it. But I've never been comfortable with being on the receiving end of that request. It makes the conflict seem like a prelude to the person dumping me. I would grow more anxious during the cooling-off period, like a death-row inmate waiting to be led to the execution.

Posted by: Carstonio | October 3, 2007 5:04 PM

jjtwo - you found a good way to get into the gang today. stick around. i think you'll like it. by posting a lot you can shape the dialogue more to your liking.

sorry about the posting problem today. probably a sneak attack from our enemies.

Posted by: leslie4 | October 3, 2007 5:11 PM

"You have to accept that I cannot possibly know what's going to offend one person or excite another"

C'mon, really? I suspect that there are some things you know perfectly well will offend or excite and you act accordingly; a lot of things you could reasonably anticipate might offend or excite but you don't care; and some things you really can't anticipate either way. I also suspect that the real question is only how large that middle category is.

Posted by: LizaBean | October 3, 2007 04:48 PM

Doesn't mean you can stop doing it though...like when I mention California, granola, gas-guzzling SUVs, immigrant rights, or social programs, pATRICK usually stops by to call me a hippie. I should probably stay away from commenting on certain topics, but I just can't help it...

Posted by: _Miles | October 3, 2007 5:13 PM

Miles, definitely doesn't mean that you should stop doing something, but at least own up to the fact that if you say "gas guzzling SUVs" you've got a pretty good guess you're going to get someone's hackles up, and don't pretend you could not possibly have anticipated that.

And also, of course, distinguish between what you say and how you say it. You can bring up all of those topics in ways that you know will be less abrasive or in ways that you know will be more abrasive - it's a choice that depends on your goals and personality, but it's still a choice you have.

And by the way, I mean "you" collectively, not just "you, Miles." :)

Posted by: LizaBean | October 3, 2007 5:22 PM

ATB, I recognize the importance of the cooling-off period for the person who requests it. But I've never been comfortable with being on the receiving end of that request. It makes the conflict seem like a prelude to the person dumping me. I would grow more anxious during the cooling-off period, like a death-row inmate waiting to be led to the execution.

Posted by: Carstonio | October 3, 2007 05:04 PM

This could have been written by DH...

It took a long time and a lot of counseling/work for him to accept that I genuinely needed what I said I needed, and that it wasn't about him, or about getting ready to dump him. He's good with handling his anxieties now - about 85-95%.

My issues were/are different, and I strive to match his success in handling them. Check back in another 20 years, and see how we're doing then.

Posted by: sue | October 3, 2007 5:39 PM

Please. I'm not a moron. I don't have social issues. There are going to be times when you say things that you do not think will be hurtful. I can't know that you're so freaked out about your cat dying that you will lose it if someone mentions that you're pussy cat is old and sweet. Seriously. mehitabel, you are claim to be so sensitive, but then spend an entire day attacking leslie and defending your choice to do so all day. You're a hypocrite and, frankly, you're exhausting to read.

Posted by: atb2 | October 4, 2007 8:03 AM

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