Saturday, March 24, 2012

Anatomy of an Argument

My husband, Fred, and I had an argument the other day.  It was completely ridiculous and it played out far enough that I started fantasizing about putting crumbs on his side of the mattress so he’d go sleep on the couch.

O.K.--I lied.  I actually fantasized about Testicle Gnawing Ants feasting on him while I laughed softly to myself.  The crumbs, though annoying and probably itchy, wouldn’t have had the lasting effect I was going for.

It all began with the Queen Mother of all Unintentional Statements, pregnant with misunderstanding potential.  I should have kept my self-deprecating thoughts to myself, but said out loud,

“I used to look a lot better in jeans.”

I wasn’t consciously looking for Fred to say anything, but as soon as I said it, I should have flashed back to the hundred comedy skits and books written about how women set-up men to fail with statements regarding their body image.

Fred is a problem-solver whose first instinct is not to offer emotional support, but to “fix”… and then wince, and hope he isn’t required for anything more.  Fred actually said:

“You could look better if you wanted to.”


First “Feelings Hurt” barb:  “I wasn’t expecting you to advise me on how to look better in jeans.” 

WhatUtalkin’bout Block:  “Why do you have to start problems like that?” 

Defensive Undercut laced with attempt at humor:  “I don’t know, but why can’t you speak “Girl”?”

Not in the Mood for humor Hook:  “That’s STUPID!”

The exchanges to follow would be better served in giant colorful stars containing words like “KAPLOW” and “COWABUNGA” like in the old “Batman” series. 

When I retold the story to a supportive girlfriend, she naturally sided with me. 

Supportive Friend Adjective for Fred:  Pig 

All those hurt feelings stirred up such a low-pressure dissention cloud that birds stopped chirping and furry animals sulked under bushes and furniture.  But, after a good 48 hours, I’m happy to report I have forgiven Fred.  He’s right, if I wanted to look better in my jeans, I would. 

Now, do you think I should go on a diet?