by Lisa Fogarty
Most nights, after we put our daughter to bed, my husband and I collapse on the couch and spend the next two hours chatting about random nonsense. We talk about our day, rip into the lollipops we hide from our toddler in our secret candy cabinet, and try to get through an episode of Justified without falling asleep. It's a really nice way to cap off what are almost always stressful days filled with work and mommy and daddy duties. But our nights aren't what you'd call "productive," and they certainly don't allow for much-needed me time (or, in my husband's case, him time). It's usually really easy for us to distract one another when we have something to work on at night because we really do enjoy each other's company and have a blast just making each other laugh. That's why a couple's fight is often just what the doctor ordered.
It's not that I enjoy arguing with my husband -- I don't. The actual time we spend actively exchanging words is unpleasant, though necessary, I know. But I'd be lying if I said the few hours that stand between when our emotions boil over and when we actually make up aren't some of my most productive.
This week we had a doozy of a fight that lasted two days -- much longer than usual. The reason for our argument wasn't serious, but we both decided that -- for whatever reason -- neither of us wanted to give in on this one. We, literally, walked around each other while in the kitchen or asked one another in formal, icy Downton Abbey-like tones whether the other had changed the baby's diaper or knew of the whereabouts of her sippy cup.
It proved a stupid, needless fight. But with all that free time on my hands and no one to shoot the breeze with at home, I was able to do the following: complete two writing projects I'd put on hold forever, pack up all of our books (we're in the process of moving), grab coffee with a friend I hadn't seen in ages, sew new brass buttons on a coat, start reading a book, and watch almost an entire season of Friday Night Lights -- a show I'd been promising myself I would try out, but couldn't get my husband to commit to watching.
Sometimes it helps to take a marriage break. I know there are couples out there who don't require an argument to break out before they can enjoy a TV series all to themselves. If you are a part of one of those couples, I'd like to take lessons from you. Or maybe we just need to move into a space that isn't a tiny New York City apartment?
How do you and your husband balance couple time with time for yourselves?