Quiet as it’s kept, things were relatively new between Mr. Max and I before the insurgents came on the scene. We’d been together long enough that we were no longer obsessed with each other, but we hadn’t had our first big fight yet. We were still in love’s first flush and while it maybe wasn’t all sweetness and light, it was pretty damn benevolent.
But pregnancy has a way of making things really real. And when you add in pregnancy hormones (which are not a joke. Please believe that), what do you get? Strife.
I don’t consider myself to be a particularly demanding girlfriend. I’m not moody, not high-maintenance, not insecure. I don’t need constant attention, lavish gifts, or grand gestures. And I pride myself on not being a nag. Similarly, Mr. Max is exceedingly good-natured, criminally patient, tolerant to a fault.
But be that as it may, there are still times that we fucking piss each other off.
Nine times out of ten, when the mister gets pissed off at me, it blows over without causing so much as a blip. He gets mad, he gets over it, and I don’t know a thing about it. For the time being, anyway. He may bring it up days or weeks later, but at that point it’s merely and FYI and once I apologize and explain, it’s over and done with.
I on the other hand have lost my ability to process and discard infractions without saying anything. As a former (and longtime) ungirlfriend, I used to be a champion at this. I’d get upset at something a man I was involved with did, analyze why said act upset me, speculate as to what his reason or motivation for committing such an egregious act might have been, process it and move on with my life. No muss, no fuss, no argument. The zipless disagreement, if you will.
At the time I probably would have said that I chose to handle my grievances in that way because I don’t like confrontation. I don’t view my role as wifey, girlfriend, or jumpoff as that of a disciplinarian. I believe in letting people be who they are. I’d rather shoot myself than be a nag. And while all of that was (and still is) true, the greater truth is that I was rarely sufficiently motivated to call men out on their bullshit. The beauty of casual relationships is in their transience. There is no reason to start fights with someone who likely won’t be around a year from now, so why not just spare myself the aggravation?
Obviously, this time around the stakes are a lot higher. Not just because Mr. Max and I are about to have a family together, and not just because in a long-distance relationship unexpressed feelings are a recipe for disaster. It is both those things, but it’s also because Mr. Max is infinitely less bull-headed and ignorant and infinitely more willing to change his behaviour to please me, and also because the older I get the harder it is to hold my tongue.
Let’s be real. It’s also because of the pregnancy hormones. They are not a joke.
The thing is though that after all those years of internal arguments coming to internal resolutions, I seem to have lost the ability to confront my mister in a productive way. My confrontation style at this point comes down to the three s’s – snap, sulk, or seethe. And I’ve written about relationships long enough to know that none of those are the right way to confront your boyfriend.
But what is the right way? That’s what I struggle with. Up until about six months ago I would have counselled anyone who asked me this to “Glinda the Good Witch Him”. You go stern on him just long enough to let him know that what he did is not cool, why it’s not cool, and that it had better not happen again. Then as quick as you turned on him, you revert back to the sunny personality he fell for in the first place, leaving behind nary a trace of the scary bitch you momentarily morphed in to.
I’ve always believed in that method and I’ve preached it for years. But what I never really realized is that it’s contingent upon one crucial factor – a clear head. And it’s real easy to have a clear head when you’re not that into the relationship. You need a pretty high level of detachment to successfully pull off Glinda the Good Witch. And when a relationship is for real, detachment tends to go out the window.
So yeah. I know all the wrong ways to yell at my boyfriend, but I’m more than a bit stymied about the right way. And like most other things that confuse me, I put it out to you, dear readers.
What is the right way to confront your partner when you’re angry? Does such a thing even exist or does it depend on the two people in the relationship? Does the method change depending on the infraction? How do you like to be confronted?
Teach me how to yell at my boyfriend in the comments.