Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Knock Down, Drag Out

'"Every week," said Arthur, "we have knock-down-drag out sex and then a tender and passionate fight.'
-Michael Chabon, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh

What a lovely way to spend a Sunday, right? So many of us have, at some point in a serious relationship, fallen victim to this self-perpetuating cycle of fighting, making up; fighting, making up. There's something delightfully sadomasochistic about the process; you get to vent your spleen, ball-up your fists and stomp your feet, then your partner returns the favor (rinse and repeat) until you're ready to find some common ground (or, realistically, because we're all about being realistic, agree to disagree and get right on to the make-up sex) and move on.

Believe it or not, I've come to the conclusion that this is not necessarily a negative thing. My boyfriend and I have had our share of Hindenburg-level blow-outs but we always seem to come out okay on the other end. Stronger, even. So does that justify the cruel words and wasted energy of a marathon fight? For us it does. A long time ago we (even though we aren't married and don't see it on the nearby horizon) made a promise to stick it out, for better or worse. We vowed to each other that we'd always work on our relationship. Sometimes that work takes the form of making sure to schedule a date night, sometimes it's way more dramatic, but it's all part of the bigger project of partnership.

I'm sure other couples have incredibly divergent ways of dealing with conflict. We're obviously big on the slash-and-burn technique, where the entire village gets razed and its inhabitants flee, screaming, into the forest. It works for us. What works for you?

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