The other nght, Wes told the girls that there’s a new Star Wars movie coming out. He told them that this will be the first one that they’re able to see in the movie theater since the last one came out before they were born.
“But you went to the last one, right, Papi?,” Emma asked.
Wes and I exchanged a glance over the girls’ heads when she asked this. Oh, yes, he had gone to see the last one. And the two of us will never forget it, as it was the catalyst of our first big fight as a married couple. He wanted to go to the midnight showing, like any good fan would, and I, like any sane woman would, had declared that a midnight showing of any kind of space movie would be full of a bunch of dorkasauruses (true that) and that I would rather skip it, thankyouverymuch. He could go with friends, I would stay at home, and that would be just fine.
I knew a midnight showing would keep him out late. I knew the movie would be extra long, so he would be out really late. I knew that the accompanying hysteria of wading through a crowd of grown men in Jedi cloaks bearing light sabers (and doing their best to imitate the sounds as they staged fights) would keep him out into the wee hours.
I knew it. But I didn’t know that he’d head out to IHOP afterwards, hang out until nearly sunrise with his single friends, and never once think to call me and tell me that he hadn’t been killed in a dorkasaurus battle involving light sabers and that he’d be a little later than planned.
Oh, y’all. I still remember how mad I was, watching as the hours ticked by without any sign of Wes.
Once he got home, we had it out like the grown, mature adults we were. Oh, I kid. We were sarcastic with one another, I used the silent treatment, I told him that he was a dorkasaurus (true that), and on and on and so on and so forth. It wasn’t pretty because neither one of us was having a particularly pretty moment.
Ten years later, I still think about that fight because I learned some important things through it, have gotten some self-awareness (some, at least), and have grown to appreciate Wes a whole lot more than I did back then. And I still have to go back and remind myself of these things even now.
So, here it is.
How Star Wars Taught Me to Fight Fairly with My Spouse
1. Listen to each other. Long before the movie came out, Wes was talking about it. He tried to get me to watch the other movies. He tried to get me excited about it. Why? Because he wanted me to go with him to the midnight showing. (And who could blame him? I was his hot, young wife. An evening out with me totally trumped a night with dorkasauruses.) If I’d listened to him and heard what he was really saying, I would’ve gone with him, and the whole argument could have been avoided. All that said, I missed all the obvious cues Wes was giving. I didn’t hear him. Listen to your husband, and really hear what he’s saying!
2. Say what you mean. Fights can get so childish, can’t they? And we can catch ourselves not communicating what we really mean because we’re too busy fighting! It never does any good to speak sarcastically, to use veiled words, to make your husband “guess” what’s bothering you, or to just go completely silent in an argument. Nothing will get resolved that way. Don’t play games. Just say what you mean. Be sincere. Be honest. Be real.
3. Believe the best. Did I honestly think Wes had gone off, stayed out late, and intentionally not called me just because he wanted to tick me off and deal with my attitude? I sure did. Because I was obviously a crazy woman. (I know that now.) Things would have gone a whole lot better if I had gone into the situation believing the best about him. And every disagreement now? Would be easier dealt with if I went in believing the best. Because more often than not? The best is true.
4. Admit your fault. I could’ve called him. But I preferred sitting around and getting angry with him. So, by the time he got home, I was already to blame for a big part of the conflict, simply on the basis of the hurt feelngs and resentment I’d willfully stored up. I made the argument all about what he’d done wrong, and in the process, I pretended as though I hadn’t done a thing wrong. Nothing ever gets resolved if we can’t honestly look at the situation, admit where we’re wrong, and deal with it.
5. See the argument for what it is. One of the best things about Wes back then and the best things about him now is when, in an argument, he says, “I love you. And I’m always going to love you. You can’t get rid of me.” When we’re frustrated with one another and having a hard time understanding each other, hearing that he isn’t going anywhere puts things into perspective. One argument does NOT define a relationship, and it certainly won’t destroy it. And knowing that the light at the end of the “I’m frustrated and upset with you” tunnel is “we’re in this forever”… well, it makes it that much easier to work through anything.
We did end up resolving the Star Wars argument that night, despite how childish we both were and how new we were to working through conflict in marriage. And with it all said and done, I finally got around to asking him if the movie was actually any good. (And I refrained from asking it via a helpful, “Was it worth it?!” See? I was already learning.) He told me that it had been awesome and that he wouldn’t mind going to see it again… but with me this time. (See? He was saying what he meant.) So, we went back the next night (oh, yes), braved the dorkasauruses that were going back for another showing as well, and ended that night on a much happier note than the one before it. And there were still dumb fights because we’re dumb people (true that) and there will be even more dumb fights because we’ll always be dumb people, but we learn and grow along the way.
Thankful that even conflict can make our marriages stronger…