Mountains at 20 Become Moleholes at 40

GettyImages_122342861When I went around the country interviewing women of all marital statuses about relationships, a lot of women talked about expectations. The root of much fighting is about disappointment over expectations not being met. The big difference about being married is that when you have a fight, you can’t just say forget this. I’m outta here. You can’t go back to your place just like that. When you have your first big fight, you think, “OMG, how can we be meant for each other if he really thinks that. I made a mistake.” Many women relayed stories like this. Chances are he’s probably not thinking the same thing. He probably just wanted some space and has moved on.

One 40-something summed her journey to finding that what seemed a mountain in her relationship at 20-someting became a molehole at 40. You know that you will weather it, surmount it.


 When we first got married and would fight, I would think the world was ending. That’s it. We’re getting divorced. He would say, “Why are you so upset? We both were cranky. We both fought. We both apologized. We are both wrong. Let it go. Why are you still sitting here dwelling on it?” I said to him “I don’t know. There must be something fundamentally wrong.”

Then one time, five or six years into the marriage he said, “The reality of it is we are going to clash. I’m a hothead. I blow up. You get quiet. We are oil and water. We’re going to fight. We have to acknowledge that we’re going to have moments where we’re not on the same plane and then it’s over with. It doesn’t mean anything. It just means we disagree over something. We’re mad at each other. You got to let that go.”

Then I started relaxing about stuff because I know that if we have a fight… so we’re not really talking and friendly the next couple of days. We’ll both get over it and it will be fine.

Everyone has different fighting styles. Expect to have fights. Don’t expect everything to be resolved. You will have big blowouts. You will find yourself wanting to run away, but in the scheme of things, you just learn that it’s part of sharing a life with someone. Even though at the time it seems like you can’t really ever picture the other side, you won’t remember those fights 20 years later. Hell, we don’t even remember 1982.

– 40-something, advertising, married, mom, San Diego, CA

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