Last week, the hubs and I turned 20. Well, we met 20 years ago and the 21 June has always been the date that’s counted for us. Our wedding anniversary on 3 March (14 years this year), is just an excuse for a nice dinner out.
So, 20 years, huh? That’s a long time in single years. You know, single years? Where a week with or without a new man feels like a year? When I met Bart at the ripe ol’ age of 24, I’d sworn off men because they were annoying. I’d officially been ‘on the shelf’ for all of 8 months (34 years in single years) and was just starting to believe my own hype: that all men really were only after one thing; that you couldn’t be yourself if you had a man; that men were basically idiots; that men were basically boys.
Then I met Bart.
We’ve barely spent a day apart in 20 years and in our younger years for months on end we spent 24 hours a day together exclusively. We’ve never had a single fight.
Oh, okay, we’ve had one major fight. 1999, in the middle of a square in České Budějovice in the Czech Republic after drinking ALL the beers and having nowhere to stay for the night and we were drunk and it was cold and I’d just fallen off some local kid’s bicycle which Bart thought was a stupid idea to ride drunk in the first place and I was too drunk to see that he had a really good point and we had nowhere to stay and we were drunk and it was cold.
Otherwise, we’re all good.
Everyone we know finds it fascinating that we never fight and we get grilled on it a lot. “Like, you NEVER argue?” they say. “As in, not even bickering?” they query. “Never, not even at Christmas?”
Not even at Christmas.
Then they want to know how it can possibly be that two people who love each other as much as we do can go for as long as we have without a fight.
This is what I tell them (this comes with a flashing PDA warning):
1. There’s nothing I’m as passionate about as I am about my husband (and I’m assuming he feels the same about me): not a darn thing. So if he does something that I don’t 100% agree with, well, I just wish him well.
2. Life isn’t half as serious as many people think. There has never been a crisis that we haven’t been able to laugh heartily through. This includes things like having three kids almost under 4, not sleeping for a decade and being shot at by the Mozambique border patrol.
3. Our friendship is everything. We have never disrespected each other to anyone. Never talked about him behind his back in a negative way. Never criticised him publicly. Never dismissed his opinion. Never.
4. On the other hand, we always talk each other up. We compliment each other in public. Talk positively about each other behind our back. Quote each other’s opinions. A lot.
5. We have a lot of really good sex. I think it’s important to mention.
6. We put each other first. This might be a little controversial as we do have three kids AND I’m a feminist, but I put my man first and he puts me first. Top of the list. Which means we present a united front to the kidlets and the world. I’d do anything for him and he for me.
7. We choose each other. I’d rather spend time with Bart than anyone else in the world (maybe the kids). We’ll say no to social engagements if a week is looking too busy and we know we won’t get much time together. Carving out time just to hang is so important. If you start each day looking for a way to surprise and delight your partner, you can’t really go wrong.
8. We agree to disagree. Bart and I actually have rather different opinions on a lot of things, but we’d rather be happy than right. We’ll argue passionately about our cause, but it never gets personal and it never gets nasty, it just gets interesting. I think the fact that we are both easy-going, open-minded people helps a lot in this department.
9. We live within our means. If financial woes are the one of the things couples fight most about, then it makes sense to manage our money well. We are not extravagant people and, most importantly, we agree on the things we want to spend our money on. That would be food, mortgage, utilities, kids, entertaining and travel, pretty much in that order.
But I think the crux of the whole thing comes down to this:
10. We trust each other wholeheartedly. I have never once thought that Bart was doing something to deliberately hurt me and he can say the same of me. I can’t even get my head around that ever happening. If you don’t trust your partner in this same way, I can see how you’d get your back up and want to fight about things that may or may not be actually happening. Either way, I reckon you need to talk about what trust means and build it back up slowly but surely.
One last thing: just because we don’t fight, doesn’t mean I think for a second that a good relationship means never, ever fighting. Not at all. But if you’re going to fight, at least learn how to fight fair and don’t wait too long to say sorry, even if it’s hard, even if it’s just to say, “I’m sorry we disagreed.”
Do you fight with your partner? Do you see it as a negative or positive thing?