Relationships are hard sometimes. We get grumpy, we snap at each other, I yell, he ignores it, and we definitely disagree on at least eleventy gajillion things. Not the least of which include what constitutes “a mess” and what an appropriate amount of space on a bed a five foot tall woman should occupy.
We definitely don’t have all the answers, but we still think we’ve got a pretty great marriage. Over the years, we’ve sort of collected a few rules that cover some areas the standard vows might be a little unclear on. We like them. Maybe you’ll like them too.
- Only One Crazy Per Crisis Limit: I think a lot of couples follow this guideline. It’s hard to make it through a rough patch if everyone is losing their shit. We agree that only one of us is allowed to go off the rails at any given moment. For us, it’s usually whoever reaches their bullshit limit first, or whoever is having the biggest crisis.
Don’t ever let it turn into the ever-annoying game of “Who Is Having the Worst Day?” That path leads to darkness. Who the hell wants to win that game anyway? Take turns. Be nice.
- The Go Team Timeout: We’re nearly always working on this one. So much of the time, people get caught up in the details of a problem. Sometimes being stressed causes us to argue about it instead of solve it. Either one of us basically reserves the right to call a timeout to remind us about the most important thing: We are a team working together against a problem, instead of two people against each other WITH a problem.
It doesn’t matter how serious or inane the problem is, it’s way too easy to fall into the trap of the second way. When you choose the first, it’s a much better way to re-frame the conversation, and it feels good when you find a solution you can both agree on. Then, you get to give each other a high five instead of an apology! Kickass!
- The Unconditional Trust Clause: Yes, couples should always trust each other. That’s not what we’re dealing with here. You know how in horror movies, one person sees the killer ghost, and tells their spouse, and noone believes them? And then everyone gets possessed and their faces fall off and stuff? We don’t want that. So we agreed if one person says something completely unbelievable, and then ends with, “I know it sounds crazy but, you HAVE to believe me,” then obviously, we HAVE to believe them (we reserve the right to request a medical evaluation also). We don’t play with this rule. In fact, in seven years, we’ve never used it. But we do like to point out when we’re watching TV or movies all of the moments when this clause would have saved the day!
- The Argument Escape Hatch: A personal favorite. Sometimes, you’re in an extra bad mood for any number of reasons, and maybe you find yourself in an argument about who touched the remote control last. Or, maybe it’s about something less tangible, and you’re arguing about a hypothetical day where you woke up in each other’s bodies, and what exactly the rules should be, and what it means about your relationship in the actual world. The point is, sometimes you hear yourself and you suddenly realize that this whole thing is kind of dumb, but now you’ve sort of backed yourself into a corner and you are definitely NOT wrong on this.
The escape hatch lets you stop the argument, but no one has to apologize or be declared the loser. It saves everyone’s pride, and lets you move on from the silly stuff while breaking the tension. This is o only for minor arguments, and not to be attempted during the serious stuff. Our escape hatch works like this: yell a random word or phrase (of late I’ve been favoring “Peanut Butter Shoelaces!”), and then–run away. The argument is now over, return to your partner when adequately refocused to return to your regularly scheduled day. Other options include hiding in your shirt or retreating into a blanket fort. You may NOT tuck and roll from the car (sorry, honey).
We’re weird-ish. We know. Steal these if you like, or roll your eyes at us. It’s all okay by us.
What about the rest of you? What are your rules? Maybe we want to steal yours, too.