How to Deal with Stupid Fights in Your Relationship

By Derek Reimherr

I know I’m not the only one who has yelled at my spouse for leaving the french press full of coffee grounds on the counter for multiple days in a row without cleaning it.

Okay, maybe that was too specific.

“How is it that your clothes never end up in the laundry basket?”

“I thought we agreed not to use all of the hot water when we shower?”

“Do you have to watch Season 25 of Big Brother? It’s such a dumb show.”

“If you listened, you’d remember that I hate zoodles so PLEASE STOP COOKING THEM.” (This one hits particularly close to home for me.)

Stupid fights for Maggie and I almost always start with some element of criticism, whether about a habit, preference, tendency, or series of events. They didn’t do that thing the way that you do it or want them to do it. How brazen of them!

For me, loading the dishwasher is the adult version of tetris. For Maggie, it’s a race to the bottom of the sink - who gives a shit what the dishwasher looks like. Is my way technically right? Yes, a geometrically loaded dishwasher will outperform a sloppily loaded dishwasher in cleanliness metrics (#IWorkInAnalytics). But at the end of the day, we’re not shooting a cleaning commercial, we’re doing chores. So no, it doesn’t matter.

There are two sides in this battle: “the right way” or “it doesn’t really matter.” You decided that there was a right way to fold towels so your partner better make those creases sing. Or you realize that towels sit on shelves in your bathroom and no one really cares. So like chill out, bro.

At the heart of stupid fights is selfishness, which in and of itself could be a whole series of posts. You want things done your way. Or you don’t care about something, so your partner shouldn’t try to make you care. And when we’re pushed too far, a stupid fight emerges from the overflow of our irritation at our selfish ways being infringed upon.

You may have heard relationships take compromise. Wrong. When you compromise everyone loses. Relationships take sacrifice.

Don’t get me wrong -  no one is expecting you to give up your college football or Netflix habit. But when you agree to do life together, especially once you’re living under the same roof, you can’t keep doing everything the way you’ve always done them. That goes for both sides: you need to adapt and sacrifice “your way” of doing certain things.

There’s only one way to deal with stupid fights: humility. You may not be able to prevent yourself from getting irritated at little things, and I get that. But when you catch yourself yelling at your significant other about chores or planning social events or picking out a dinner spot, you need to rein it in. It’s time to acknowledge that you might be in the wrong and apologize. Your habits and rituals are not more precious than the person you care about.

That said, there are ways to mitigate, avoid, and accommodate life’s triggers for stupid fights. While the thing may differ (dishes, driving, snoring, etc), you can apply one of these strategies to any scenario:

  • Collaborate. Maybe you’re picky about the grocery budget but hate cleaning the floors. Why not offer to take on all the grocery shopping if your partner takes care of the sweeping?
  • Let it go. Sometimes, your way really doesn’t matter and you need to let it go. There is more than one way to plan a date night. There is more than one way to scrub a bathroom.
  • Step up. Basically the opposite of let it go. Sometimes, you just need to sacrifice the 15 minutes a day and pick up your shoes you’ve left lying around your home.
  • Make your pitch. It’s entirely possible that your significant other was never taught how to properly budget. Rather than fuming silently (or loudly) at them, why not have a teaching session?
  • Swallow your self-righteousness. If it really is that important for the fridge to be organized a certain way, then just do it and accept it. This does not give you an excuse to be condescending or be resentful. You’re choosing this.
  • Have a conversation. There may honestly be times when neither of you has a strong opinion or you’ve never previously discussed a specific situation. Pick a time, talk it out.

Stupid fights are stupid. So it’s stupid to keep having them, right? You’re reading this blog, so I’m choosing to believe you’re smart as hell. Get out there and have fewer stupid fights, you certified genius.

My Married Life Has Never Been So Boring

Photo by  Shanon Bell

Photo by Shanon Bell

By Maggie Reimherr

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but this blog has been silent for a while. We didn’t plan a 7 month hiatus, but at some point I had a strange realization. You know, for two highly dramatic individuals, Derek and I have become... sort of boring.

It first hit me when I found myself planning one on one hang outs with my girlfriends less and less often, more like every 6 weeks or so. My boring life wasn’t exciting enough to generate enough topics of conversation to make higher frequencies of hangs a necessity. For example, I have a friend who’s also happily married. We go on a walk together every so often, catch up on absolutely everything of note that’s happened since the last time we hung out, and wrap things up in less than 2 hours. Is every married person like this?

Don’t get me wrong. I love our life. Derek and I love each other. We go on fun dates, plan great adventures, and spend plenty of time with the people with love. But where is the drama? The intrigue?

via giphy

via giphy

As someone who has been an avid consumer of romance novels since I read my first Nicholas Sparks book long before it was age-appropriate, I always anticipated that my life would include romantic gestures and dramatic spectacles. Where are my expensive candlelit dinners at sunset follow by stargazing on a sexy pile of blankets and pillows on the beach? (Maggie, you don’t even live near a beach.) Where is the evil ex-husband because of whom I had to change my identity to avoid him tracking me down and trying to keep us apart? (Again, Maggie, you got married at 23. You don’t have an ex-husband.)

Sure, Derek and I occasionally do romantic things for each other. Usually, these things involve cooking or trying out a new, fancy restaurant. Food is one of the greatest joys of life, let’s be honest. But there is no drama. I don’t have romantic feelings exploding out of me at all times (only sometimes). We’re not facing any major relational obstacles at the moment, and we really haven’t since we got married.

Could it be that real love isn’t chocolate-covered strawberries and champagne or fighting bad guys to be together? Could it be like snuggling on the couch, eating frozen pizza and drinking beer, and watching a movie? Especially when one of us is super reluctant about watching *another* action movie but gives in to because the other person reeeeeeally wants to watch it?

I think, probably, yes. And I’ve never been happier. Is this “boring” we’ve been experiencing actually a sign of a healthy relationship?

But anyway, as a blogger, when your life is boring, you’re a little hard pressed to create content. So we took a writing break.

Yes, our life is overall steady and fulfilling. But after several months off, I now realize that we are still bumbling idiots approximately (and generously) 50% of the time. I mean, not too long ago ago Derek had to teach me how to properly do laundry because apparently when you wash everything on warm, that’s, like, bad for your clothes? RIP Derek’s shrunken pants.

Even though we’ve settled into our married life and routine, we still have stories and lessons to share. So we’ve decided to come back!

I’m wary about making promises, but here’s what we’re aiming for: 1 new post a week guaranteed to be filled with either helpful advice or stories about how I’m sometimes a dumbass.

Also, we’re bringing back the good ol’ ‘gram. Follow us on Instagram at @millennialmarriage. Insta-stories of Derek teaching me how to do basic household chores are probably to come.

It feels good to be back.

Divorce Boats

By Maggie Reimherr

I once heard someone call kayaks divorce boats. I concur. Derek and I have been on a kayak exactly once, and it wasn't pretty.

Our friends Chris and Amanda were visiting us in Boston for a weekend. We’d heard that a *quintessential Boston activity* was kayaking the Charles River. It sounded really fun and like a great way to see the city, so we thought, “Sure! Why not?”

We arrived at the kayak rental station in Cambridge, MA on a sunny May afternoon. We decided, “Hey, we’re married couples. Let’s get double kayaks!”

This was a grave mistake.

We started slathering on some sunscreen to prepare for an afternoon of boating on the Charles like true New Englanders. Like the very unathletic person I am, I decide to wear a dress that day. We were going to an improv show later that night and wouldn’t have time to go back to the apartment to change. I hiked my leg up onto a cooler at the kayak rental place to put on some sunscreen, and some RUDE-ASS LADY walked up to me and said something about how she could see my underwear. Cool, thanks. I don’t really care if anyone sees my incredibly modest granny panties, but you just made me feel self-conscious about being unladylike. 

So I was entering into this boat ride already a little emotionally distressed.

Via  Giphy

Via Giphy

We decided Derek would take the back of the boat for steering purposes, and I’d be in front. This meant that when it came time to take a cool selfie of us on the boat, I was going to have to be the one to snap the picture without losing an iPhone in the depths of the Charles River. Lucky me.

Between the accidental flashing and the potential iPhone drowning, on a scale of 1-10, my anxiety was at around a 7.

We started paddling and immediately, the physics of kayaking baffled me. I knew I had to put the oar in the water and push to move forward. What I didn’t realize was that this motion, if done incorrectly, could cause the kayak to veer to one side or go around in circles.

Derek started to get frustrated with my willy-nilly paddling. Additionally, each time I dipped my paddle into the water, somehow I couldn’t get it together and not splash water all over him. “Here, just take a break and let me paddle,” he said in frustration.

It’s one thing to paddle yourself in a single kayak. It’s another thing entirely to try to paddle you and your wife in a double kayak when she’s a completely useless partner. Derek is a champ, but one man can only take so much. His arms got tired. He requested my help once more. I kept splashing him and spinning the boat in circles.

At this point, we’d made it maybe 50 yards from the spot where we departed from land. I don’t know if I had an unrealistic expectation of how far two people can go in a kayak, but I thought we’d be moving at regatta speed and see a big chunk of Boston.

I was wrong. We had MIT on one side of the river and Back Bay on the other, and that’s it. For visual representation:

Divorce Boats.png

Derek and I started snapping at each other.

Derek: “Maggie, STOP SPLASHING ME.”
Me: “We’re in the water! Water splashes! Get over it!”

Derek: “Can you please paddle straight?!”
Me: “I DON’T KNOW HOW THIS WORKS, OKAY??!”

All the while, our friends Chris and Amanda were floating down the Charles nearby, having a blast. We pulled our boats next to each other and convened on a game plan.

“So, uh… do y’all want to go back to the shore?” I asked nervously.

We’d been on the river for probably 45 minutes. To my relief, they said it was fine to return. They are very accommodating and very good sports.

But getting back was not easy. More splashing, more spinning in circles, more groaning, until finally, we reached dry land.

And what do you know? Like a beacon in the night, right before our eyes was a glorious, beautiful beer garden.

It was time for alcohol.

We returned our boats and immediately made our way to the bar. Sun-tired and sore from kayaking, we sat and drank beer and chatted and laughed.

Just when I thought we’d forgotten about the troublesome kayaking from earlier, Derek whispered, “We are NEVER sharing a kayak again.”

So take it from me, folks. Save your marriage. Choose the single kayak.

Oh, and we did get our selfie without sacrificing an iPhone. We appear far happier than we actually were.

Guy's Perspective: A Primer on Getting Engaged

BY DEREK REIMHERR

Engagement was one of the most terrifyingly exciting times of my life. To say I was emotional and conflicted would be an understatement. On one hand, I had this fantastic woman who I loved dearly. On the other hand...officially locking myself down for life.

Ultimately, as evidenced by this blog’s existence, I went through with it. Surprise! The journey was fun but stressful. I’m here to offer some tips on what we did right and wrong.

Step 1: Evaluate the Relationship

“Why would I do that? I want to marry this person!” That’s all well and good, but this process is not for the faint of heart, and therefore it’s important to do more than a passing glance at the situation. Ask around to your friends, family, and any trusted people in your life. What do they think? It’s easy to be blinded by our affections, but you’d rather reconsider before they are legal ramifications, right?

List off all the endearing and irritating qualities about your significant other and why you want to move forward with this person. Reasons should not include, “Literally all of my other friends are engaged/married.” A good rule of thumb to live by is the 5:1 ratio, something I learned about while getting my psychology degree. Basically, couples who have a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions are more likely to stay together. I don’t recommend keeping a tally, but it’s something to keep in mind.

Step 2: Determine the “When”

IMHO: Don’t start talking about your engagement plans 3 months into the relationship. In fact, the less you talk about it, the better. I persistently steered our pre-engagement conversations away from the topic. Why? You overlook serious issues in your relationship when you’ve already decided that you’re getting married.

However, once marriage is clearly the right step for your relationship, it’s not a bad idea to actually plan the engagement. For example, if your future wife is getting her Ph. D, maybe it would be best to wait until she’s finished her dissertation. Or be like Maggie’s cousins, who got married when they were both in the beginning of grad school and are walking through that process together.

Based on when I proposed, we were engaged for over a year. It was awful. Seriously, there’s nothing worse than looking at your future mate and just WANTING TO BE MARRIED but still having to wait 14 months. Our take: 9-month engagements seem to be the sweet spot. Just enough time to plan, not too much to drive yourself crazy planning. Enough time to digest the engagement and get pre-marital counseling, but not so much that you go bonkers like we did.

Step 3: Buying the ring

This part may be the most stressful for many men, but it should be an exciting time. The best advice I can give: plan in advance and pay cash. I was able to do that and it relieved an unbelievable amount of stress. Don’t overthink the process, though. This is truly the most exciting decision you’ve (probably) made up to this point of your life.

  • Make a budget. We like budgets. Whatever you’ve heard about spending on a ring, forget it. 3 months salary? Bollocks. I spent roughly 5 weeks’ salary, but we’re all different. Pick the number that works for you and try to stay within 5% of that number.
     

  • Pick the Style. Potentially the most daunting task. I asked one of Maggie’s friends and her sister (shout out to Lindsay and Claire). Ask several months in advance so you’re not too obvious. Next step, go to the treasure trove that is Pinterest - should be all the help you need. Try to figure out your lady’s style: traditional (diamond) or nontraditional (precious gem). All women are different and some don’t want a diamond because they’re a ripoff.
     

  • Educate Yourself. 4 C’s, y’all: carat, cut, color, and clarity. Learn them, know them. Decide which aspects are important and don’t compromise. If you want more info, peruse GIA’s website.  Whatever you buy, make sure it’s a certified gem. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA), American Gemological Society (AGS), and European Gemological Laboratory (EGL) are all considered reputable agencies, with the GIA considered to be the highest standard.
     

  • Choose a Jeweler. Please don’t go to a chain store - the markups are ridiculous. Go to a family friend or go to a wholesaler. I went with the latter option where my ring immediately appraised for 50% more than I paid - probably what I would’ve paid if “He went to Jared.” If you don’t know a family friend and are near Atlanta, I went to “The Mart.”
     

  • Make the purchase. My advice: Don’t go with your significant other. You can go alone, but I took a close friend who was married and knew more than I did. I think it was more fun for Maggie to be surprised, and I think she agrees. When you’re searching for the ring, see if there’s a matching band. That makes it easier to assess your budget and not have to go back to the jewelry store again later.

    Always negotiate that price. Whether you’re under or over budget, it’s worth shaving off more money. I managed to shave about $900 off the list price of Maggie’s ring. BINGO.

That’s it! If you can make it through those 3 steps, you’re probably already engaged and don't need my advice. Congratulations!

Married friends: Any advice for the singles out there? Singles: Any hopes you have for engagement? Let us know!

Read More on #MillennialMarriage:

Fixer Upper Taste on an IKEA Budget
10 Lessons Learned in 3 Months of Marriage
When an Introvert Marries an Extrovert

A Newlywed's Guide to Honeymooning

By Maggie Reimherr (with GIF assistance by Derek)

Our honeymoon was my first international vacation, and I immediately began planning our next vacation, to my frugal husband’s dismay. So while I look on in jealousy at others' honeymoon photos this summer wishing we were still on ours, I’ve compiled my advice to make your honeymoon the best week ever.

1. Stay at an all inclusive resort.

At an all inclusive, you don’t have to do anything normal and unpleasant, like cooking for yourself, cleaning, or fetching your own beverages. That’s all done for you, and it feels like it’s free because you already paid for it months ago.

2. Put your phone away.

Then take it back out occasionally to post an Instagram to make all of your friends at home jealous of your glamorous #vacationlife.

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3. Order multiple dishes at each course of your meals.

The portions are tiny, and you already paid for it. You get those three desserts, girl.

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4. Don't pay for a touristy excursion. 

We ended up swimming with sea turtles and 400 other tourists in an enclosed area when we could’ve been playing free putt putt and consuming all you can eat mozzarella sticks at the resort.

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5. Order room service for #fourthmeal just because you can.

Late night dessert and fries are your God-given right.

6. Keep your room neat.

Nothing kills a relaxed vacation vibe like walking into your room and seeing your own wet swimsuits and towels strewn about.

7. Take advantage of the onsite entertainment.

We saw The Revenant at our resort (much to my chagrin) and then stuck around at the theater for a live Beatles cover show (much to my utter joy and happiness).

8. Splurge for a couples' massage sometime during the first few days.

After all of the wedding festivities, you're going to need some total relaxation. 

9. Drink your weight in fruity cocktails. 

Your resort's "drink of the day" is your friend. Blue raspberry mojitos? Yes. Berry-cinnamon margaritas? What? Yes.

10. Make googly eyes at your spouse for a week straight because you're honeymooners.

After you get back, you’re just boring married people, so stop being gross. (Just kidding. Make googly eyes at each other all the time. I do.)

(Gifs from giphy.com)