He: “That’s the dumbest way to stack a dishwasher I’ve ever seen.” She: “How can you put the wineglasses with the plates?” He: “Nobody told me I was marrying Miss Neat Freak.” She: “Do you have to make a mess in every room?” She: “How come you never do anything romantic?” He: “How about some sex for a change?” He: “We can’t afford a new house.” She: “Why don’t you make more money?” He: “Your mother’s the biggest bitch I know.” She: “You must not be counting yours.” He: “You spend too much.” She: “You’re so cheap.” She: “Couldn’t you ever come home and play with your son?” He: “Somebody’s gotta pay for all this.” He: “When are you going back to work, or is Pilates a career now?” She: “Looking a little paunchy there, don’t’ you think?” He: “Be nice if you’d initiate sex once in a while.” She: “Is it all about sex with you?” She: “Why don’t you spend more time with me and the kids?” He: “Why can’t we spend more time by ourselves without the kids?” He: “The kids need more religious education.” She: “They’d be okay if you set a better example.” She: “Are you listening to me?” He: “Can I watch this in peace?” He: “Can’t you even read a map, Kimberly?” (circa 1987) She: “Can’t you just stop and ask for directions?” (circa 1987) He: “Can’t you even read a map, Kimberly?” (circa 2007) She: “Wouldn’t have to if you’d bought the GPS.” (circa 2007) He: “I’m staying in the city. I hate commuting.” She: Don’t you want your kids to have a backyard?” She: “When are we going to get married?” He: “Huh?” dishwasher mess in every room romantic house biggest bitch spend too much play with your son Pilates all about sex me and the kids more religious listening read a map (1987) GPS backyard get married dishwasher romantic biggest bitch Pilates me and the kids listening GPS get married dishwasher biggest bitch me and the kids get married dishwasher get married He: “That’s the dumbest way to stack a dishwasher I’ve ever seen.”
Marital Therapists Phil Lee, and
Diane Rudolph's Bracket
Read their introductory essay.
Arguments about in-laws are like the in-laws themselves: they won’t go away. The woman could have made it to the Final Four here if she had taken an undefensive approach: He: “Your mother is the biggest bitch I ever met.” She: “I’ll say! She’s the biggest bitch anybody ever met. But I’m stuck with her, so could you possibly help me out and...” As easy as that, and the woman wins,. But she doesn’t do that. And the man moves on.
Withdrawing and self-absorbed fathers vs. mothers with an ax to grind is a typical midpoint between the euphoria of the wedding and the bitterness of the divorce. Things could go either way. He and She’s problem is that they’re mixing topics. She’s worried about the children, He about money. The woman’s advantage is temporary. Kids matter. So does paying the bills. Stalemate.
While all marital arguments are a mistake, this truly can’t be won, not against an expert. You say, “That’s the most idiotic way to stack a dishwasher I’ve ever seen.” Your other half says, “You’re absolutely right, honey, I’m pathetic at that. You’re the only one who can do it right, so could you help us out and do it from now on?” Checkmate. An argument guaranteed to crate closure.
He is introducing the subject of the kids’ welfare, while She wants to be heard. The woman has a surefire argument starter, no matter what the response. “No” leaves her feeling neglected. “Yes” is worse. The man bringing religion and morality into marital debate provides a specific, highly charged valence, transforming the issue from the children’s welfare to spousal behavior. He can win, however, by attending church. And thus fails to advance.
The woman’s complaint induces guilt. But her victory is illusory. The man changes, becomes more devoted to family, but grumbling all the time—because he has been shamed into it, not permanently altered. She, on the other hand, is married.
An early front-runner against all other marital arguments, but by definition it fades as fast as the wedding bells. What She leaves out is “...because then I’d be happy and we wouldn’t have these arguments.” This would morph into “I don’t want to be forty before I have kids” and then, “We wouldn’t have these problems if we had a bigger house.” An illusory victory for the woman, hardly a permanent one.