3 Day Rule for Fighting Fairly

I actually found useful marriage advice in an ehow article. I’m a little embarrassed by that, but hey, what can I do except share that great advice and show how I used it.

“Decide together that the past is behind you. Leave the past in its place. Do what needs to be done to heal, then put the past in its place. It’s not that you have to completely forget, but all does need to be forgiven. Old transgressions should never be used in current conversations and arguments. It is equally unhealthy to ignore problems as it is to fight over them. So deal with the problems directly, then let them go. You will not bring up what is more than three days old.”

Read more: How to Get a Fresh Start in a Marriage | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_2308241_get-fresh-start-marriage.html#ixzz1uy0bQUC3

A few weeks ago, Husband asked (begged and pleaded actually) to be forgiven and have a fresh start in our marriage. I somehow softened my heart (I was defenseless against all his sudden sweetness) and forgave him for anything even remotely hurtful over the past 18 years. So I was living in the moment, and loving the moments. Husband is paying attention and loving the moments too. (yay!)

But. There had to be a but, the title is about fighting. But then a wrench was thrown into the fresh start, as my lack of trust sent off warning bells and I started pushing him away again.

Husband had to work on Saturday and that was fine. He calls me at 4pm and says they finished working, and some of the guys were going to the bar and grill in town. He asked if I needed him home right away. I said NO! Go, have fun. And I meant it. I was so happy he could have a chance to hang out with friends, he never does this, and he needs a social network. I was actually dancing I was so happy for him. My new friends have made such an impact on my life, I want that for him too.

He comes home about 8pm, heads right upstairs instead of the hug I’ve been getting the past few weeks. He comes down and from the other room I see him acting guilty and says he’s sorry, he lost track of time and didn’t mean to be out so late. I said, whatever, nothing to be sorry about, we’re all fine here, glad you had fun and thought the guilt was strange. I asked if he had dinner or if he wanted some leftovers. I mean really, it was a very nice evening, except he wasn’t looking me in the eyes. So we get kids in bed, watch some TV, and go to bed. If this sounds boring and normal, it should, because I want to contrast the next day.

Mother’s Day – Yay! Sweet hugs and homemade gifts from my little ones, fresh flowers, homemade waffles, the works. I see husband has a sunburn. Hmmm. I ask him if he worked outside yesterday. He says No. Hmmm. He sees me looking at his burnt arms and said it must be from the patio at the restaurant. Hmmm. My guy is very naturally tan, and unlike me, does not burn after 4pm, he needs all day for that. I ask him what time he got to the restaurant, “I don’t know, maybe 3pm?” He says it like a question. ALARM BELLS in my head. Things are not adding up. I wonder why, but we are having a lovely mother’s day and playing with kids, so I let it go.  But I also pull back from him and put up some guards and distance while my head just keeps repeating, “he’s lying – he’s lying – he’s lying”

Later I ask him what restaurant he went to. He says “I don’t know, don’t remember the name” Hmmm

Much later, after kids are in bed, I ask him “Were you already at the bar when you told me you were going there?” He says “huh?” I rephrase, “Where were you when you called me? You said you were leaving work and headed to the bar, but I think you were already there” He says, “Oh, yes, I was already at the bar and I don’t know what I said to you because I already had a few drinks.”

“Why did you lie to me?”

“I didn’t lie to you”

“yes you did, you said you were just leaving work. Why did you lie to me? Did you think I would say no? Did you think it was too early to go to the bar? I would never lie to you –  Why did you f-ing lie to me? Because all the reasons I have in my head for why you might lie are not good things to have in my head.”

“I didn’t think I was lying. I’m sorry. I don’t know what I said and I really didn’t want to hurt you. I’ll work on that”

“You’ll f-ing WORK on not lying to me????” And I was so pissed, I walked away to my computer in the other room. This was going no where, he doesn’t even understand that was a lie. Does he lie often? Was he lying to cover up something? Was a woman there he likes? Were they at a strip club? What was worth lying about an hour or so. I don’t think he’s cheating on me, he’s not the type. He’s shy, awkward, and sorry, just not that attractive, short, chubby, balding. Just can’t imagine someone else having to have him.


I have never confronted him when I was actually angry. I have felt that he lied to me before, always about stupid things like this, and I catch him in the details. I don’t believe he did anything wrong, other than not admitting how long he was having fun.  This was all about him, not me, since I do not nag, rag, bitch about his own time. Just be courteous, don’t let me worry about you, his quick phone call was all I needed. And even if he had gone to the bar, had his drinks, and called and said “I stopped to have drinks after work and some other guys joined us and now I want to stay even longer, so I’ll be home in a few hours or call you later” I still would have said, “OK, cool, have fun”. I didn’t think I had ever done anything to make him think I expect him directly home, no having fun allowed.

So I worked out my anger with some whiskey (don’t lecture me on that, just a few drinks, not the bottle) and some dumb TV. I was resigned to sleep on the couch and be angry all night. And then I thought of that fresh start rule. I can’t stay angry. I can’t keep it in. I only have 3 days to discuss this event and we were on day 2. I had to go upstairs and deal with it.

So a funny thing happens. I have nothing to say to him. Nothing. I just lay next to him listening to him breathe, and he accepts me with open arms. And whiskey makes me frisky. So I initiated my first ever session of angry love-making. It was like we were telling each other we were still connected, that love was stronger than anger and guilt. It was raw and a bit rough, we let our bodies have the conversation. And then we were able to have the real conversation with words. Amazing!

He shared that his mom screamed and belittled his dad if he ever stopped anywhere after work. She even threw things at him and called him bad names, and things like lazy and selfish. I have heard her use those words about my guy. He shared that no matter what he does, he is never good enough in his mom’s eyes. He shared that his dad finally seems proud of him though – it only took 39 years. He shared that his mom stopped taking care of them when he was in middle school and she started a new career. He shared and shared and shared.

So we think he feels guilty when he isn’t working and never feels like it is enough. That was the guilt I was sensing, that he thought he didn’t “deserve” to have a day off. So he lied to make it less of a day off. I get that. I believe him. And I’m so proud of him for opening up to me. And I’m proud of me for letting him.

Am I on the right track here?

13 thoughts on “3 Day Rule for Fighting Fairly

  1. Sounds like it. Keeping you in my prayers. Let’s face it, when what you’ve always done has never worked, trying something new is worth the effort.

  2. I love the 3 day rule idea!! I think it’s something that I’m going to implement too. I’m glad you and your husband are finding the way to have deep and meaningful conversations that are bringing the ‘junk’ out into the open. It is the only way to heal self and relationship. Congratulations!

    • I love when simple ideas make so much sense. I had always heard “don’t let the sun go down on your anger” or variations like that, but this one was clear enough for me to follow. Deal with it now. Not fair to either spouse to bring up past hurts. I also like the 3 days, since life does not always allow us to deal with things right away tactfully we can choose when to have a talk. And the best part is it limits the “stewing” time. I know I would have been so cold to him the next day if I had slept on the couch angry all night.

  3. I think letting past arguments travel into the present is always asking for a disaster because we are not giving ourselves a chance to feel the hurt only of the present but also the past. I think truly letting go is the key and it is something I am so bad at! This post is really great and can really make you see that it is not always what we think.

    • I think I am pretty good at reading people, I knew the guilt was there, but I had no idea why. In the past I may have assumed it was my fault somehow. Living in the present forces us to deal with things in the present and then let it go. We are learning how to communicate. I can’t let go until it has been discussed. I had to throw 18 years of the past in his face, since it had never been dealt with, and that was gut wrenchingly painful for us both. But now that it is out, I will no longer bring up the past hurts. I am finally telling him how I expect to be treated and how I feel. So this is a learning period for us both and we have to expect to make mistakes.

  4. Pingback: Expectations and Disappointment | Roots to Blossom

  5. Pingback: Helpful Steps to reconnect a distant spouse | Roots to Blossom

  6. Pingback: Boundaries in a Healthy Marriage | Roots to Blossom

  7. Pingback: The Need to Be Understood | Roots to Blossom

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s