There are two things that can stop a husband and wife fighting. (This is perhaps my little marriage or friendship primer). One option is for both people to turn totally neutral, hearts reaching to express love, especially if apologizing. Fights are melted. It’s scary at first, maybe, to apologize or start a real sincere conversation without blaming, but disaster is averted.
Another: laugh if something ridiculous happens. I guess a third situation would be if some catastrophe occurs, making it so all tension over a dumb argument is rendered unimportant. Big things make fights look stupid. (Of course, focusing on the little zany children of ours also help us to see the big, lovey picture).
During our recent squabble, he made me laugh, then held my hand. So a little of Stopping the Fight, Routes Two and One. My guy is wise and our marriage gets better and better. One particular evening last week, though? It was tough. Here’s the story:
We’re out on a Sunday night, which probably contributes to some cold thorns and exhaustion, no matter how cool the plans are. I am pregnant. I get tired and sensitive. He gets bristled and can act like a dude. We are walking, two kids, no stroller, on a crowded street in Tokyo’s Omotesando. The ballet of Moses starts in twelve minutes, but he and my daughter leave us to backtrack, cross the footbridge, then rejoin us with convenience store food and drinks. It is a tense walk when parents fight and each has one kid. Nothing feels okay.
The lineup is this, I tell him that week and maybe on the train ride over. We will see excerpts from Sleeping Beauty and then a full production of Moses. I grab us seats on a bench and lay down our scarves and jackets. Just two rows back and no orchestra pit, we see the dancers’ every breath and flexed muscle. We’re enveloped by dim lights, Tchaikovsky’s score, and long lines in arabesque.
Maybe fifteen minutes in, four fairy dances later, plus the black fairy/evil witch’s incantation over the tiny princess baby, Aurora is about to be woken up by her prince. At this point, my guy leans over and asks, “Is the blue one Moses?”
I am stumped and mystified. “You’re absolutely joking, right?” Do I smile or look slack-jawed and stunned?
“Um, no. So who is Moses? The blue one?”
The divide is gone. He can’t possibly really think that the blue, winged fairy dancing beside Sleeping Beauty, infant Princess Aurora, with a gift at her Christening, is baby Moses. Can he? Who does he think Pharao is—the black fairy turned terrible enchantress?
This is like seeing Broadway’s Rent and twenty minutes in, thinking it’s The Book of Mormon. Or Sound of Music? I thought this was Fiddler on the Roof!
Heads turn as I try to stifle my laughs. We hold hands as he says a bit mystified, “I did think that was the strangest rendition of Moses I had ever seen.”
And that, friends, is how you stop a fight. Look for the laughter and hold hands.