Earlier this year, Steve and I had been fighting. A lot. It was always small things that blew up into outrageous screaming matches. He’d mess up the directions while I was driving and I’d get stressed and he’d get frustrated and next thing you know it’s WWIII.

We started to think maybe we just weren’t all that compatible. Maybe when you took away our entire support network (which is exactly what we did by moving interstate), we just couldn’t hold each other up. I’m too uptight; he’s too stubborn. We were the rock and the hard place — and our relationship didn’t stand a chance between us.

The fighting has taught me a lot about what it means to be in a relationship.

I remember one particular fight we had on a Sunday. It was over the state of the house. I’m very much a “clean in the moment” kind of person. I’m constantly picking Steve’s shit up that he leaves wherever he puts it down. Steve, on the other hand, is very much a “I’ll wait til it’s really dirty and then clean the fuck out of it” kind of guy. He doesn’t think I do a thorough enough job. As you can see, these two forms could work really well together… but they can also lead to resentment if you’re not careful and think you’re doing more than the other.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened. We yelled, we were mean, and we went to bed angry — something I do try to avoid. But there was no forgiveness in my heart that night, and in the morning I left for work before he was even awake so I got to brew on it all day. Maybe it was over. Maybe we were done. I was so upset — I didn’t want us to end, but I didn’t want to keep fighting, either.

I was the first to get home that night. I immediately started cleaning to distract myself. When Steve walked in, I was halfway through the dishes. I couldn’t look at him. I saw out the corner of his eye as he stopped the music on his phone and dumped his bag on the floor.

He pulled out his earphones and looked at me. I finally made eye contact.

“What do you feel like for dinner?” he asked.

I instantly burst into tears, my hands still in the scalding hot dishwater. I tried to control myself and continue with my task. “I don’t mind,” I blurted in reply and looked down at the plate I was scrubbing.

Steve was probably taken aback by my reaction, but he composed himself and stepped into our tiny kitchen. He touched my arm and I turned towards him. He enfolded me into his embrace and, crying, I mumbled into his shoulder, “I thought you were going to break up with me.”

He held me tighter and kissed the top of my head. “It’s going to take a lot more than a few fights for me to want to break up with you.”

Since then, we’ve bickered a little — over the normal things you would expect from two people sharing a very tiny flat — but we’ve mostly been okay.

Sometimes the resolution is simply accepting you’re different people.

It was our two-year anniversary a month ago. He held me close that night on the couch while we were watching American Horror Story and at one point, he kissed the side of my head before telling me, “We’re going to be stuck together for a very long time, I hope you know.”

The fighting has taught me a lot about what it means to be in a relationship.

Couples will always fight. It’s human nature to become annoyed at the person you spend all your time with. It’s also easy to take out your anger and frustration about other areas of your life on them.

What’s important to remember is they shouldn’t be your punching bag, verbal or otherwise, and it’s okay to have different views on things. You don’t always have to come to a formal “resolution” — sometimes the resolution is simply accepting you’re different people.

Does the good still outweigh the bad?

Perhaps that’s a negatively-framed question, but if you can answer it positively, then you know it’s all worth it.

Cass and Steve hugging
Cass and Steve circa June 2015

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