“We had a quarrel, a lover’s spat”

Last night my husband and I had a fight.  Ok, it was more like a bit of sniping and then going to bed feeling sad and lonely and bewildered.  What the heck happened?  We were doing so well.

As is so often the case the disagreement came out of nowhere.  We were watching one of our favorite shows and I made a comment on the characters’ behavior.  My husband saw it differently, and before we knew it it had somehow become all too personal.  Predictably I identified with the female character and my husband identified with the man in the scene….hmmmm.

And yet I am proud of us, because even though it was painful, I think on the whole we did a lot right:

1.  Once things started to feel like more than a friendly disagreement we were able to stop the back and forth and agree to drop it.  This is not always easy to do.  There seems to be a deeply ingrained part of me that wants the other person to admit that I’m right darn it.

2.  We both were able to fairly quickly identify what was really going on (it’s never about the nail…see video below).  It was really about an interaction earlier in the evening in which we had different needs and expectations and instead of talking about them clearly we expected the other to read our minds, and then both felt disappointed.

3.  We were both able to “go deep” and talk about the ongoing challenges we’ve been struggling with.  For my husband’s part his job requires him to rise very early in the morning.  In spite of our best efforts we haven’t managed to get the bedtime earlier though so he has become chronically sleep deprived and yesterday he hit the wall.  For my part, while I am enjoying the quiet of our new house and have met many lovely people here, I miss my “peops” back in Pennsylvania, my friends and clients and friendly faces and places.  Although my days are busy here, by the end of the day I am feeling a bit lonely and eager to connect with Steve.  He on the other hand deals with over 150 people pretty intensely all day, and at the end of the day he is exhausted and needs renewal time…not a good intersection of realities.

There is a saying in the 12 step movement that you need to HALT when you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired and we had certainly hit 2 of the four last night.

So what is the bottom line…i think it is to be gentle with ourselves.  All couples have ruptures, disconnects, even fights.  The important thing at the end of the day is to come home to each other.  To realize that what really matters is the preciousness of your beloved and of the connection that you share.  All else is small potatoes.  I’m sorry I caused you pain Steve.  I love you.



and this lovely song about what it means to live a lifetime of connected love:


Posted by Laura

Laura Marshall, LCSW, is the founder and director of the Sagebrush Center for Relationship Therapy. Her experience spans thirty years of supporting couples and individuals to create healthy and meaningful lives and relationships. She is also adjunct faculty for the New Mexico Highlands School of Social Work. She lives with her husband Steve and five sons in Farmington, New Mexico.

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