This post contains a revelation which will surprise my family (and maybe a few friends as well). You see, Helen and I didn’t actually fight all of the time.
The myth arose because our first few months together were, at times, pretty fraught. We had at least one massive row per day, a situation brought about entirely by the fact that we were both pretty hot-headed and inclined to blow up at any moment (as evidenced by the events in the Chinese restaurant). Sundays were particularly bad, because they were the one day when you could guarantee that we would be together. I still have, somewhere, a scrap of paper upon which is written the phrase “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a weekend without war”, which I remember writing one Saturday, not long after we moved in together.
After a few weeks of this, I realised that our relationship would not survive if we continued this way, and I resolved to take a much calmer approach in future. By and large I stuck to it, too. Most of the time I just let Helen burn herself out ranting, then I would smile and say “Do you feel better now?”. Apparently this is Very Very Annoying, even when done tongue in cheek. At other times I would simply take myself off somewhere until she ran out of energy.
Call this smug, petty, childish, patronising or whatever you like, but the simple point is that it worked. Helen herself said on more than one occasion that she couldn’t argue with me, because I wouldn’t argue back. Most importantly, it bought both of us time to think things through properly and come to a decision about whatever it was that was causing the disagreement in the first place. A lot of the time I realised that I just didn’t care enough about the colour of the living room wall, or whether the lawn needed mowing that day, to get into a prolonged debate over it.
The legend that Helen and I spent our entire time fighting is therefore just that, a legend, a myth. The truth was that we spent more time desperately trying not to fight. It was when we stopped doing even that that the problems started.