A Reason to Love that "Boring" Relationship

If you like high intensity arguments, this article isn't for you!
If you like high intensity arguments, this article isn't for you!

A Tale of a Boredom

"In every marriage more than a week old, there are grounds for divorce. The trick is to find, and continue to find, grounds for marriage." Robert Anderson

In past relationships, I memorized and repeated this quote to myself again and again. I found plenty of reasons to be unhappy. After all, I'd chosen poorly, not once but several times. Alcoholism, verbal abuse, physical abuse, infidelity - they were all familiar to me. It seemed that every day brought at least one argument. It might be a brief few minutes of bickering or an all-out fight.

But those nice guys? They didn't stand a chance. They were boring! B-O-R-I-N-G, I tell you!

Looking back, I know I was half of the problem. I was anything but boring. (See Confessions of a Drama Queen to read about how I discovered that my flair for passionate emotion was also my greatest flaw.)

In any case, I grew up and outgrew those relationships. In time, I came to see that what I'd called boring was actually another word for peaceful. Yes, I wanted a peaceful relationship, But to have a good relationship, I had to eject some of the excitement from my life. When I finally turned my back on drama, I found that I could find calm coexistence with another person, and that it was more fun than I could've believed.

That doesn't mean that arguments left my life. I still believe disagreements are vital to a healthy relationship. Just the other evening, I had a rare, rather boring argument with my husband.

I had started working on something that I believed was important to him, but it didn't seem to be. In fact, he'd made a statement that made me think he found my effort unnecessary, and I told him so. "It seems like you don't think it's any big deal," I said.

He snapped back, "Quit telling me what I'm thinking and let me enjoy my birthday." OUCH! Too many times in the past, I've heard similar things. To this day, I don't know what it is about my communication style that provokes this reaction, but it has happened more than once. Here I am, asking for feedback about what I think I'm seeing (isn't that what counselors recommend?) and bang, I'm accused of not letting someone think for themselves!

We'd just come back from a nice birthday dinner with his family, and were sitting down to watch some television. After his remark, I said, "Ok, enjoy," and gathered my belongings before heading into another room.

A few minutes later, he sent me a text message: "Are you coming out soon?" He'd added a little :( emoticon for good measure.

Heck no, I wasn't going to go back. He was right, in one way. It was his birthday, after all. I'd noticed when he walked in the door after work that he seemed tense, too. But I certainly had not been thinking for him and I felt insulted that he thought so. I sent a text reply. "Nope. Enjoy your birthday. I love you."

A moment later: "I'd enjoy it more with you."

Ha! Too bad, I thought. In my quiet fuming, I'd come to realize he probably just didn't want to talk right then, but would be receptive later if only I waited, and I wanted to rejoin him. But I am who I am - sometimes oversensitive and occasionally sarcastic. I knew I'd be tempted to say something about his snarky comment, and then I'd be guilty of dampening his birthday mood.

I picked up my cell phone again. "I wouldn't be very good company right now."

He went to bed before I did, and other than a brief, "Good night," followed by a peck on the lips, we stayed in our respective areas the last two hours of the evening. He'd left for work before I awakened.

During those lonely couple of hours, I reflected on what he said. I realized that even if he thought I was "telling him what he thought," that he might not consider it a big deal, even though I had. In the morning, I felt much better.

When he called me from work, I said, "I don't know if it was me or you last night, but I'm sorry we didn't get along."

He said, "I'm sorry, too."

"I felt bad when you said I was telling you what to think."

He said, "Oh, I didn't mean to make you feel bad. You didn't do anything wrong."

That was it. I thanked him and we changed the subject.

I told you arguments are the most boring part of great relationships. In the process of this argument, I learned that he really did not attach the same significance to the idea of me thinking for him. He learned that I'm sensitive to others perceiving my intentions that way.

How Do Disagreements Look in Your Relationship?

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Tips for Having Boring Arguments

Since every couple has disagreements, here are some tips to make sure your arguments stay as boring as possible:

1. Avoid blame. Always. If it creeps in, try to refocus on how to prevent the problem from arising again rather than focusing on what can't be changed.

2. If you've made an agreement on the same issue in the past, and your partner didn't uphold their end of the deal, ask him or her what solution they would like to see instead. Be willing to accept progress instead of demanding perfection.

3. Take a breather. It's easy to shout and become hurtful when face-to-face. It's harder when you're in different locations or if you agree to postpone talking until your emotions have cooled.

4. During your cooling off period, write in a journal, spend time on a relaxing hobby, or listen to soothing music while you consider both your viewpoint and your partner's. (See below for a few suggestions.) Challenge yourself to find validity in your partner's reasoning.

5. Listen. As a listener, you set the tone of the conversation. I know it sounds odd, but it's true. If your partner feels you are listening and understanding them, and sees that you're dedicated to finding a solution that works for them, too, they'll be likelier to do the same for you.

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