Sticks and stones

When the OA and I started dating, we were so madly in love that we could see no wrong in the other. I gave in gracefully to anything he wanted. He indulged me like a favoured child. Any disharmony in our lives was purely because his parents didn’t want us to get married. Nothing else.

And then we got married and the fights began in earnest. Our own issues. The OA is the good cop in our family. By which I mean, the unpleasant tasks are usually left to me, and he’s the calm, zen, happy person who never does wrong. Which is why its always hard for people to accept that he can defend himself and put up a fight with the best.

Anyhow, the fights were spectacular – full of sound and fury, but rarely vicious. That’s because we were establishing boundaries. So we yelled, we slammed doors and brought up the last time you did this and the first time you did that. Often I’d walk out of the house to cool off because I couldn’t stand being in the same place as him. Once I hopped out of the car at a traffic signal in Connaught Place and walked away with barely any money and just my phone, at 9pm or later. He had no choice but to drive on and by the time he parked he couldn’t find me, was panicking at the thought of me getting harassed and eventually called up my parents to find out if they had heard from me. My mother called me the next day and made me promise I’d never do that again. Party pooper.

Over the years we’ve settled into a routine and our give and take has been established. We fight less because we know what the other won’t budge on. And when we do, it takes too much energy to keep it up and we usually make up in a while because we have friends coming over or some chore to do and its quite ridiculous to do it in cold silence.

And then a couple of days ago we had a disagreement – we’ve had a problem that we’re facing as a family (even though the kids don’t know it, obviously) and it’s been a while and the OA and I feel like failures because neither of us is able to snap out of the vicious cycle that it draws us into, and work on the issue to save us all.

The argument started small and we kept our voices down. And then in quiet, cold, calm, bitter voices we hurt each other far more than if we’d physically beaten each other up. Just a few short sentences. It was over almost as soon as it began. And we both knew that we’d breached a line we never should have. Opened a Pandora’s box we knew better than to.

Within an hour of our quiet, bitter disagreement we made up. Precisely because both of us knew how horribly we’d hurt each other, how low we threw our blows. And what a rookie marriage mistake we’d made  – instead of teaming up to sort out the problem, we let it get big enough to make us turn on each other.

We’re okay, we’re fine, we’re talking. But I can never forget what he said to me and I can’t take back what I said to him. The sad part is that we both know that the things said about us are true. And that’s what makes them hurtful. It’s only when you’ve been married so long that you can efficiently wrap up a fight in ten minutes, cut each other to the quick with a few lethal words and get on.

I woke up the morning after feeling like his words were tattooed into my skin. I’d always been aware of the failing he pointed out. I just didn’t need him to articulate it. And vice versa. It’s been a while and we’ve consoled each other, apologised and tried to move on. Because we also turn to each other in pain, for comfort. But we’ve unleashed the Kraken and there’s no putting it back now. Whoever said sticks and stones can break my bones but words can do me no harm, did not know what they were talking about.

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41 thoughts on “Sticks and stones

  1. Our ability to hurt the people we know the most intimately – I’ve been there, done it and it’s the one thing I keep hoping to never repeat because that kind of pain is exquisite in how excruciating it can be. Reading this post made me sad. I don’t know what else to say. Hug?

  2. Strange how reading about happy times doesn’t seem quite as personal as reading about tough ones.
    I wish you strength, the unsaid things once said are just that, said things. I hope they dim with time…

  3. I think it takes strength to patch up even after that ultimate line-you-must-never-cross has been breached. Somehow you can only cross that line, AND make up after it, with those you know and love intimately, no?

    I have a rule of never sleeping over an arguement/fight. So even fi it means fighting tooth and nail, I’d rather have the worst out and over with and move on to making peace (even if we dont end up happily agreeing with each other) than maintain civility because I’m afraid to cross that line.

    I might sound a little morbid and psycho here, but isnt there a weird security in knowing that theres only ONE person in the world you have that comfort with? You can rip them to shreds and vice versa and still honestly make up after it?

  4. What to say… You guys are mature enough.. you would have heard/read everything anyway.

    Aaj Jumma hai.
    Aur Bhai ka naya movie releej hua hai.
    Go out.. and do something stupid together. It will bring back the smiles on your faces.

  5. You’re sad. Just give it time. There will be instances where you come through for each other too, unexpectedly. But I agree, the ‘how could you say such a thing and hurt me so badly’ definitely occupies the top layer of our thoughts for days afterwards. Only time makes things fuzzy. And your decision to consciously put it behind you. Im in the same boat today. And I’m hugging my how could you’s close. I know beyond a point life will take over again. There’s no other way. One thing you wrote aeons ago always sticks with me. That – ‘at any given time, you’re always feeling a multitude of things for the OA.’ That just made things SO clear to me and took the load off of not feeling one good thing all the time!

  6. You have entered a different phase in life – where you have known each other long enough, been through the ups and downs together so much – that you can even say harsh words and still make up because you know you value the other person so much. It’s ok. Less you think about the words, the better. Humor it and move on. Then those words can’t do you much hurt. You are both very secure people – it will just pass. People say things when they are under pressure…and you can only be raw and take that kind of liberty with your spouse.

  7. Hugs, hugs and more hugs. I was teary-eyed as I read this, and I hope all the hurt will blur and fade with time. I go through this with my 7 year old daughter who has a razor sharp tongue. SHe pushes me to the limit, and finally after being patient for a while I say something, she says something ruder and then I end it by saying something hurtful, which I always regret later. I live on hope that she forgets. We live and we learn. It is really hard to walk away at the right time, before we cross the line. Just recognizing the line and what it is, is a big step. Wishing you strength..

  8. This is the story of many married people. I don’t think I have ever read it expressed so candidly yet there is no accusatory tone to it at all. It reflects the maturity of your relationship. These rare moments stay tattooed to us, you are right. We can do nothing to take them back and yet whenever we look back, all you want to do is take it all back. Thank you for writing this. This in a very strange way is assuring that this happens to everyone’s life, we all make the same mistakes. Not intentionally.

  9. Oh, how beautifully u have expressed the agony felt in the aftermath of a fight and the pattern of fights we follow over the long years of a marriage (which is in all real terms a great one).

  10. Sigh. There is something about the timing of your posts that make me relate to them with all my heart. I happened to go through something very similar with Mint just a few days ago. We made up almost immediately and I know for certain that he has forgotten the nasty thing I said to him. Unfortunately, what he said keeps coming back to me. For the million other nice things he does for me in a day, I am trying to let go of that bitter memory.

    At one time, recollecting our dating days when we were always giving in gracefully to the other is what made me miserable. I wondered why we can’t continue living like that all our life. It is only now that I have realised that that is not realistic, so I might as well not compare who we were to who we are now. I believe we allow some room for disharmony only after we’ve established a deep level of comfort and security.

    Big hugs to you MM. I hope you’re able to wipe out all traces of the hurt you felt.

    • He has forgotten? What makes you think so?
      I think we imagine the men have forgotten because they are often more easy going. At least mine is, and yours seems to be so. But it lies at the back of the mind and colours our relationships. Sorry to be so gloomy. I might have commented differently if I’d responded two days later. :-/

  11. Dear, dear MM,

    I came here for unicorns. Yes, such is the entitlement I feel, sitting on your virtual porch, waiting for you to color me with your life, your family, your love stories. Instead, my illusions dissolved to reveal rhinos. I am sickened that I find both comfort and pain in seeing my unicorns turn into rhinos — an endangered species, with rebuttal horns and skins thick enough to carve out battles. But very real and very alive.

    A part of me is angry, delirious even. I feel…I am emotionally invested in you, dear MM. That is not your problem. Does love really mean never having to say you’re sorry? What can I wish you, but more of that impossible love and a stash of LifeBuoy? The decision to scrub is yours, the bubbles are guaranteed.

    Much love,
    Null Pointer

    P.S. Because music can’t always be reduced to a coincidence, as I typed this comment Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Waters was playing. Just sayin.

    • I love your writing. I know I don’t comment, but it seems most inadequate in the face of your prose that reads like poetry.
      From California dreaming to Floyd, love your music too.

      • I love her writing too MM.
        As for your situation, I hope blogging about it helped a bit. I am sure you have made peace with it by now…we all do interestingly because we know very well that if we don’t, we are putting a strong, healthy, beautiful union at risk.

  12. Hugs MM, we all go through that at some point with our partners, our friends, our parents and EVEN our kids. Thought we can never take back our words, time does heal everything. Don’t worry, you will forget about it soon.

  13. Ghar ghar ka khani hai ye… In marriage each fight make us wise. Wisdom is that the unnecessary word hurling didn’t solve ‘The problem’. So a new day begins and we search for the solution rather than replaying of the ‘words’ Yes words hurt but actions count.

  14. Nobody can hurt us like the ones closest to us. All our fault only really. We let them inside the castle walls and into the keep, let them scope out the weak spots, show them the hidden tunnels, point out the secret treasure room, display our security blanket. And when the inevitable lash occurs, it hurts more because it’s coming from inside us. Because, you-are-me-and-i-am-you-and-we-are-complete.

    Only a saint can not take advantage of all this. And who amongst us is one of those?

  15. The beshht thing to do when the bar gets lowered so much? Go limbo dancing. Gather up all the pain and shake, shake, shake, senora, shake your body line….

  16. Ditto, here too babes, we know now after 14 years exactly which barbs cut to the quick and which slide off like water off a duck’s back and like the meanies we are, we use those former to cut each other up with when in distress and pent up frustration. Hugs and kisses from me to you. And empathy for the OA too.

  17. Hugs to you. I regularly read but rarely comment here. This resonated a lot with me as i am in the same boat. The Mr moves on and early on i believed he had forgotten only to realize sadly he never does…he had just decided to let go for peace in the present. But there is always the off chance he might bring it up in an argument months later 😦

    there is the tamizh thirukkural which is ‘theeinaal sutta punn ullarum aarathe naavinal sutta vadu’.
    meaning –> even a burn from a fire will completely heal but the scar wound from a vicious tongue will never go away.

    take care and hope the dark clouds disperse soon.
    hugs

  18. Dear MM

    Ouch , so honest ! I logged in , expecting the usual and was taken aback and sad to see this. Like few others have said “tough times” feels so much more like personal info shared when compared to stories about good times 😦 I’m so sorry, things are the way they are.

    Here is a virtual hug, a tight one . I have experienced what you have shared and hate to go back to memories of those times. And yes, one never forgets 😦 thats the problem. The only consolance is, it gradually disappears to a farther corner of your brain ; one from which it is hard to pull out. Give it time. And meanwhile, do get out and try do something different and special..just so you borh can feel better.

    Hugs and love
    PV

  19. Maybe time to correct your “failings”? Sometimes we need harsh words to see the right picture, dont we? At other times we just need “time”. How many times have I fought with my husband? And how many times I have thought this is it, we are never going back to how we were!! But we always do because I guess how much ever hurt you feel at the moment, there is a next day where you feel warm and loved and happy !!!

  20. What Null Pointer said in the first line of her first para. The rest of it went way over my head 😉
    I liked that shit happens comment to. But then, sometimes, shit just doesn’t happen for too long.
    There are those of us who let everything remain unsaid and let it fester. When it explodes, there’s going to be a mushroom cloud. Or a clogged drain at the very least.

  21. We both seem to live a common life lady…. When you mentioned about ‘job not taken’ in your last post, that is the same thing happening to me and your today’s post almost left me in tears because in my 6 years of marriage it is the first time we have hurted each other so much…. Why can’t we be same as we were in our dating days… My post here at http://morselsandjuices.com/a-day-in-her-life/ will sum it what I wanted to convey

  22. I had my first fight with the SO today. We got engaged only recently and we’ve never really fought. We’ve had fights and disagreements with our respective ex’s so never fighting in this relationship seemed odd to both of us. Today for the first time I didn’t like things he said and did. I felt angry and I didn’t want to give in. I tried to make myself understand through rational contemplation that my reason to be angry was trivial, that this mood of mine isn’t exactly his fault and that I should not argue or get completely aloof when he is around. I met him and did exactly all this; argued and then went completely quiet. When he left my place he said, ‘this is the first time I’m leaving your place feeling unhappy’.
    After he had left, I logged into word press and read this post. It might sound very selfish and weird but this post gave me a good feeling about my first fight. I messaged the SO saying, ‘we are beginning to fight and I like to believe it’s healthy.’ I just felt love for him again and I like to believe it is because of this piece of writing. It just makes me believe this is fine; there’s more that will happen but that is perfectly okay. Thank you for writing MM. I hope you and the OA can both look past the hurt and I hope that your love for each other stays strong forever. You have a beautiful family and I hope and pray you always stay happy.

  23. I am planning to go on maunavrat Mondays, so that there is at least one day of the week where I don’t lash out something that I regret in hindsight.
    But how do I get it from turning into martyr Monday? I’d be looking over my shoulder waiting for my visisht seva medal.

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