I was doing just fine in my close-to 5-year relationship. It was a normal relationship, like every other, with its fair share of fights and eventual bonding.
At least that’s what I thought of “fair share” at the time.
One fine summer day, the topic of money comes up. While I am non-conservative in matters of money, my girlfriend lies on the other end of the spectrum.
I rarely hold back from gratifying my latest tech frenzies. She, on the other hand, is a frugal, calculative and always ready-for-a-bargaining-fight kinda girl.
I don’t dislike it, but boy does it lead to some big, lengthy discussions whenever I buy something in total disregard for my bank balance and others!
Therefore, when the topic of “money” popped up, I put my views on money being a transitory holding and not a cause for much worry if you don’t want to live a “lavish” life. You can live comfortably with the money I earned and saved. Bear in mind, I was all but 24 at the time.
This probably came from my thought process of viewing inner fulfilment and money, placed on two ends of a seesaw. I try to look for that sweet balance in between. She listened patiently, and then shared her views on expecting such thoughts from someone who hasn’t seen rough times. You should earn more than what you need. A lot more.
Life is not a ship sailing in calm waters, but a boat in rough storms
It was partially true. I hadn’t seen as many financially tough times yet.
But even when I was hearing her, my mind was constantly finding ways to push my point, my “view” in reply to what she says.
Eventually, the call disconnected. Of course, leaving a bitter taste on both ends.
After the call, I thought long and far, re-evaluating my view, thinking more points on how “my” view is right, pitting them against her points, worrying about how this difference affects our future. If I would ever get her to see my view and whatnot.
Basically, I was strategising, fighting, re-strategising, winning, losing — worrying pointlessly just because I thought this is the most important thing at hand.
Nod your head gently, not “if”, but because you have done the same!
Yes, it is not a rare thing
It is immaturity. It is short-sightedness. It is very common to happen in new or young relationships.
And it keeps on happening.
Almost everyone I know has fought with their partner for “something” they “believed” could cause problems, 10–20 years down the line.
When put into words, it seems so silly. Even though my mind is trying to put up one last fight to justify its case.
They are here to tag along for a lifetime. They will be your partners in decisions affecting both of you. Therefore disagreements with them can be concerning to a normal person.
In case, some decisions act against the values which define you as a person, the other person may unintentionally become toxic for you. It happens. There’s a reason people walk away from each other.
It is almost always one of these — a comfortability in acceptance, a compromise or a goodbye.
BUT dear mind, I’m not talking about the core layers.
I’m talking about the middle and outer layers of things that can be easily compromised or ignored and yet we fight on every one of them with the same ferocity.
As psychologist Dr. Lisa Firestone says on this, “Much of our anger comes from our past. Being stubborn and standing up for ourselves may have been a necessary defence against an angry or punishing parent, but this response can be inappropriate to a partner who’s simply offering feedback.”
Our ignorance of the fact that at least 8/10 of our views are simply the middle layer ones, coupled with the stubbornness or a complete shutting down, is responsible for our “hypothetical wars”. The views on the middle layers are still shaping up, not “so” important, and ones which if let be, may give us the benefit of “power couple”-ing!
This knowledge is half the part solution
When I realised this, I was ready to forego my previous barriers. Every barrier seemed silly. A dangerous extension of my ego.
I noted the following points and made sure to check all these before going into the battleground:
Does this fight erupt from a core belief which makes up who I am?
Does this fight or any outcome out of it affect us or my own self in any “immediate” way?
Is this view bound to change in the next 4–5 years?
Even if the other person is wrong, clearly wrong, could it be that the things still remain okay if we go that way?
For all cases considered, you may only remember the last one.
It is a rephrase of,
“Is it worth it?”
You can then simply walk away whistling off the driveway.
“When you say you are sorry, it doesn’t mean you are wrong. It just means that you value the person and the relationship more than being right”