Sunday, July 24, 2011

Things My Husband and I Argue About

When Joe and I argue, it's pretty benign.  We know plenty of couples for whom that is not the case; couples whose little tiffs end in a dozen stitches, a trip to IKEA to buy new glassware, or fresh sheets on the guest bed.  We are not that couple.  Our arguments usually end in paying the babysitter (we prefer to argue on date nights), a goodnight smooch, and happily sleeping a couple of feet apart.

That's because we actually like to argue.  We're like a high school debate team that never got over it.  Unfortunately, we agree on just about everything, so unless one of us is willing to switch sides for the sake of a verbal spar, we're fairly limited on debate topics.  As a result, we have a few pet topics that we revisit every few months.

So since this is my blog and I can't help but win, I will share one of my favorites:

Joe thinks he and I are soulmates.  I disagree.

Before you decide I am frigid and soulless and unworthy of Joe's affection, let me clarify.  It's not that I don't think Joe and I are suited for one another.  It's that I don't believe in soulmates at all.  I do believe in love, obviously.  I love my husband.  But my understanding of why I love my husband is much different than Joe's explanation of why he loves me.

I love Joe for several reasons.  In the beginning, it was because he was cute and funny and sincere.  I got a little chemical boost from my limbic system, too: my brain got a hefty dose of seratonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine when we were together.  As we spent more time together and my affection for him grew, it threw in some vasopressin and oxytocin (the "cuddle chemical").  But beyond all the hormones and boring science-y stuff, there is one key ingredient that turned a biological high into a lasting bond: I chose Joe.

Because I made that choice, we have spent six years making a life together.  In six years, we've experienced a lot together - good things, bad things, funny things, angry things, painful things, giggly things.  And every time we experience one of those things together, my love for him grows.  Because I believe that a loving, lasting relationship is built on a foundation of all the things you experience together.  Our first year of marriage was the hardest.  We're both a little stubborn, and we were working on that foundation.  Looking back, surviving those tough times together is a large part of what strengthened our bond.  Either of us could have walked away during that tough time, but we didn't.  Me, because I had made a choice.  Joe, because he believed we were fated to be together.

There is a certain wistful romance to Joe's viewpoint.  I like fairy tales, too.  But in my mind, to say you are fated to be with someone is not much different than saying you're sentenced to be with them.  Like it or not, you're stuck.  The universe won't have it any other way.  That means when the tough times come, you don't get the bolstering satisfaction of knowing you could walk out, even if you wouldn't.  Sure, the good times are probably just as sweet for thinking the universe had them pre-scripted.  But here's the clincher for me: If you believe that you are destined to be with someone no matter what, then you don't get to take any of the credit for the work you put into the relationship.

And it is work.  It's not easy to share your life with someone.  To learn the other person's quirks and habits, and figure out how to shape your own around theirs so that everyone ends up happy.  It's hard to carry the weight of someone else's dreams and fears in addition to your own.  But for me, true romance is in succeeding in this task.  The notion of pre-destiny or fate ruins the romance for me.

And if Joe wants to say any differently, he can get his own damn blog.

And because every argument makes more sense when it's jazz-backed and sung by a foul-mouthed Aussie, enjoy:


  1. Hmmm...I agree with you. I don't believe in the idea of soulmates because I don't really believe there is only one person you are destined to live your life with. I think you choose to live your life with one person, but the notion there is only one in the entire universe that one could mate with is absurd.

  2. I agree with you and I really love my husband and think I am really lucky to be with him because he is great and it takes a really special person to put up with me. Still I am sure there are others cabable of fulfilling his role. On the other hand, what were my odds of meeting and mating with one of those others? I mean, I am a really difficult person....