One element of a marriage is spousal bantering. These are not fights but more meaningless differences of opinion. Often the topic of the discussion is of an absurd nature or something that lacks all importance. However, spousal bantering is an important element in a successful marriage because it provides a conduit to release other pressures or frustrations that may exist. Without this exercise acting as a pressure release valve, the various pressures would build until they ultimately explode into an ugly outburst.
The playful bantering is extremely healthy but sometimes it elevates beyond the level of playfulness and penetrates into an argument. Based on my many years of studies and practical experience on the subject matter (20+ years of marriage), I can state as fact that the individual who steers the bantering into an ugly direction is often the husband.
I believe it is the male competitive nature to win that result in our inability to realize that we are changing the direction of the conversation into a danger zone for which we will have to pay for handsomely. In fact, there are often times in which warning signs appear but the husband remains so focused on winning (this meaningless issue) that they are completely ignored. However, there are other times in which divine intervention refuses to be ignored.
One evening my wife and I began bantering about some silly topic on the television. I had no opinion one way or the other, but being the typical husband I chose to take the opposite opinion of my wife. We were joking and bantering back and forth on the issue as we laid in bed watching television. As I got out of bed to turn off the light, she made a powerful statement which sealed her argument. It was at that moment that the male ego and competitive nature took over. I no longer was the reasonable loving husband but now the irrational debater.
As she laid in bed and I stood at the end of the bed I was aggressively countering every point she made. I honestly didn’t agree with half of the statements coming out of my mouth but I was going to win the debate. As the conversation began the transition from bantering to an argument, there was a subtle divine intervention. I stubbed the toe on my right foot on the hope chest at the end of the bed. A reasonable person would have stopped, paused and reflected on the current situation and used this event as an opportunity to end the debate.
Unfortunately, I was not a reasonable person. I did not skip a beat. Even though my toe was throbbing in pain, I continued to make my argument. As I was hopping on one foot holding my bruised toe in my hands, more absurd statements flowed out of my mouth. The composure of my wife was changing from playful to irritated but I forged on. I was not going to lose this debate (whether I agreed with my stated position or not).
It was at this exact moment that divine intervention would not be ignored. As I continued to hop on one foot and the stupidity continued to flow from my lips, the little toe on my other foot hooked on the bottom of the hope chest and broke clean through. I dropped to the floor like a sack of potatoes. The pain brought tears to eyes as well as made it impossible for me to speak an audible word. With that said, my whimpering could not be heard over the incredibly loud laughter of my wife.
There was an intervention warning with the bruising stubbed toe. Then there was true intervention with the breaking of another toe. It was exceptionally painful to walk the following week, but it was much better than the pain that I would have created if I would have continued with the absurd argument. Often we get caught up in the moment and lose sight not only of what is truly important but at times our own personal values. It is important to realize when an environment may be changing – at which time one should step back from the emotion and take a logical inventory of the situation. Sometimes it is important to realize that there are times of winning when you actually lose.
Husband, father, coffee connoisseur and lover of all things hockey. At 51 I sometimes wonder have I done enough. I have been married to my best friend for 30 years. She knows all my faults and loves me anyway, As a father of “almost always” perfect boys, I am always surprised at what life has to offer. It is messy, scary, thrilling, and always fun.