Friday, September 4, 2009

Semantics, Shemantics

Deb: I hate it when we fight.

Sven: That wasn't a fight.

According to Sven, we have never had a fight. We've been together 15 years. How is that possible?

It depends on the definition. While we may discuss, bicker, and even argue, Sven and I never "fight," depending on your definition of "fight."

Screaming at each other, saying intentionally hurtful things to each other, threatening to leave, throwing dishes...if this is fighting, then Sven is right, we've never had one.

Here's what we do have:

1. Bickering: This is meaningless verbal play about things that do not matter to anyone, anywhere, at all. Example: Sven and I had a long-running dialogue about Debussy's place in the canon of Composers That Matter. I took the position that Debussy "Matters" because he not only revolutionized harmony, he set the stage for the major musical developments of the 20th century. (And he wrote music I can play.) Sven replied that Debussy shouldn't "Matter" because he was just a lazy rich boy who wrote what he did because he didn't bother to learn the rules. This went on for years, to the point that my mother would visibly blanch when either of us said "Debussy."

A friend of ours, Danny, attempted to broaden the discussion by randomly shouting "Jodeci," but it wasn't the same. It did, however, cause me to shoot my beverage out of my nose.

(Explanation of above terms: Jodeci was a popular music group in the early- to mid-1990's. Debussy was a composer of the late Romantic or "Impressionist" school. Danny is a stand-up comedian.)

2. Heated Discussion: This is when Sven and I begin discussing something of mutual interest, then devolve into attacking the merit of each other's arguments, often switching sides shamelessly just to win the point.

Sven: I hate our garage. It should be behind the house.

Deb: Well, if they were going to do that, they would have to change the floor plan and enlarge the lots.

Sven: No, all they would have to do is move the garage.

Deb: I don't understand how they could do that without changing the entire layout of the kitchen, or at least enlarging the lot.

Sven: Look, just imagine it. The house is the same, but instead of the garage being in front, it's in the back.

Deb: Well, how would the car get in? It would have to drive around the side, right? How would they do that.

Sven: They would just make the lot a little bit bigger, and flip the floor plan around.

Deb: Oh.

(Imagine the above discussion extended to about 20 pages, and you've got the gist.)

3. Arguing: this is when we disagree about something fairly major. These are rare. I subscribe to the "rather be happy than right" school, so I'm pretty easygoing about most things. We argue sometimes about activities we want to do, projects we want to undertake, or places we want to go.

There have only been four times in our fifteen years together that I thought we had a "fight." Three of those times were completely my fault, usually caused by my mouth saying something my brain hadn't processed yet. It's an awful feeling, hurting someone you love because you just didn't think your statement through. Fortunately, I'm getting better about waiting to speak until I think about it. The fourth time was caused by my misunderstanding, but Sven made it worse by "fixing" my hurt feelings by being angry that my feelings were hurt. (Imagine, him yelling at me that I was being silly didn't instantly make me feel better!)

I think how you fight, and how you make up after a fight, is an important part of every relationship. Sven and I subscribe to the "pretend it never happened" school. It works for us. Here is how it goes when we try otherwise:

Deb: Hey, about that fight we had earlier-

Sven: We never fight. Now how about some sammiches?

Deb: Yes dear.

Okay, not really. But neither of us is really comfortable talking about our feelings in-depth. I don't know how Sven handles it, but when I need to talk to someone about my relationship, I have an imaginary interview with Oprah. Unsurprisingly, Oprah is patient and kind, and believes that I am always 100% right. I can only hope Sven is going to Dr. Phil, who will agree with Oprah that I am right, since she signs his paychecks.

So, to my delight, I've discovered that I am in a relationship completely free of "fighting."

Lucky, lucky me!


Joanna said...

Use of the word 'sammiches' is official make up language for, "I love you, I'm sorry and I find fighting threatening so I want to claim we didn't really have one."
It's all in knowing the code.

Barbaloot said...

I have to agree with Sven when it comes to Debussy. Not only does he not matter, but his music is yucky. Two exceptions; Clair de Lune and Arabesque.

Don't FIGHT with me on this:)

Kristina P. said...

Adam and I have never had a "fight" either. In fact, we rarely bicker. But I can be passive-aggressive and sometimes do the silent treatment, but it doesn't last too ling.

Sneaky Momma said...

There's no disagreement in the world that some sammiches won't solve.

My husband and I are a lot like you and your Sven. I cannot imagine being in a relationship where fighting was the norm. I guess the good Lord knew what he was doing when he put our two sensitive souls together. :)