The analysis of this fight, and my subsequent apology, will tell you what you need to know about our twelve-year marriage, and why it thrives to this day.
The source of this scuffle was simple: I was due to leave for Connecticut in half an hour, and Gini and I were having a fight.
The problem was simple: Gini was asking when I was leaving. I, in turn, asked her why she was asking – because I could delay my leaving for an hour, if she had something sufficiently pressing and needed the car.
Gini, in turn, proceeded to ramble on for valuable minutes of the remaining time I had left – I still had to pack and shower – not actually telling me what she wanted, just a bunch of apologetic preamble that I told her I didn’t need. I needed to know what I could do for her. I cut her off once, twice, three times, asking her to get to the point and just tell me what she wanted me to actually do. She did not. Voices were raised, shouting began.
Then Gini got up quietly and left the room with that stricken “I am not dealing with this” look on her face I, unfortunately, know so well.
Here’s what you need to understand. I’m right. I still think I’m right. I wanted to know one thing at a time when I had very little time before I left – something that I was willing to do to benefit her – and Gini was dorking around when I needed straightforwardness, not excuses. She should have just said what was on her mind: namely, “I have a hair appointment, would you mind leaving an hour later so I don’t have to walk back a mile in the heat with newly-cut hair?”
But I was also ridiculously stressed about leaving for Connecticut. I didn’t want to drive nine hours alone. I was stressed to the gills because I’m an introvert, and the last three weekends have been all filled with people, and the next three weekends would be all filled with people, and every circuit in my body was – is – screaming for an afternoon alone to recharge. I was nervous about visiting my Grammy, who is going downhill (as you’d expect from a 92-year-old) and I didn’t want to reenact the hellishness that was my maternal grandmother’s slump.
So I sat there, and after a few minutes of DON’T WANNA I found Gini and apologized.
I did not apologize because I felt like apologizing. But looking at the available evidence – stressed Ferrett, rushed on time, stricken Gini – everything around me suggested that I was, in fact, being an asshole. In fact, the only data point that didn’t suggest that I was being a jerk was the little voice inside shrieking, She’s wrong! You’re so right! – a voice I’ve learned, over the years, often leads me astray.
I was apologizing based on pure track history. I know Gini well enough to know that nine days out of ten, when she gets that look on her face, I’ve crossed a line I shouldn’t have. I know me well enough to know that when my energy supplies are worn to the marrow after a solid month of socializing, I act funny. And we cuddled, and I figured out what she wanted, and I left later. More importantly, I left for Connecticut with the feeling that we loved each other, not dashing out for three days apart after a nasty fight and having to patch it up on the road.
Sometimes, you need to look at yourself and go, “Okay, internally this feels completely correct… But viewed from the reactions of others and my situation, would a smart investigator conclude that I’m actually in the right here?” Because every so often, you’re gonna wind up in a situation where you’re in a bad headspace – stress, PMS, a little too wired on one drug, legal or not – and you’ve gotta be able to step outside to look at it objectively.
Cuddled up on the bed, Gini and I discussed this. She laughed. “You think I only apologize when I think I’m wrong? Oh no, my love. I do it too.”
This is why we’ve weathered twelve years.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.