'We improved our relationship by arguing for four hours.'

When you never have time to talk to your significant other you end up holding onto a lot of stuff. It just builds and builds and builds until there is an epic explosion and it all comes spewing out.

I used to dread these episodes that seemed to happen once every few months in my relationship but now I have learned to embrace them. They are the relationship grease-and-oil-change my husband and I sorely need.

It all started with a throw-away comment by me, having a go at him for sleeping in the spare room, something he does when he is stressed and knows he will toss and turn all night and doesn’t want to keep me up. I can’t sleep when he does this because I feel unloved and abandoned. Even though we both know all of this we retreat into our hurt little corners.

That was how it all began. What followed was four hours of relationship housekeeping that we sorely needed.

Jo Abi with her family. Image supplied.

We talked about everything, all the things, going as far back as the first year of our relationship.

He didn't dance with me on our wedding day;

I once told him I didn't care about money and now I do;

He didn't really love me during those first few years and was stupid enough to tell me that once;

If we didn't have kids we probably wouldn't even be together;

I was exhausted by how emotionally needy he was;

He couldn't handle my constant mood swings;

We concluded that we really weren't suited and should split;

We agreed that we loved each other and couldn't live without each other;

He said something about my family;

I said something about his.

Our big fight was the relationship grease-and-oil-change my husband and I sorely need.

Four hours later after we'd both laughed and cried and resisted the urge to throw things at each other our "conversation" ended abruptly when we were interrupted by a courier knocking on our door and we both suddenly realised that we'd lost the entire day and now he would have to rush to get to work and I'd have to rush to get ready for the kids arrive home from school.

We solved nothing. Not one damn thing.

Even though we ended the conversation feeling frustrated at all the things we can't change and aren't willing to change and even though it sometimes seems like we have nothing in common, we have enough in common to keep trying.


We'll probably still argue like this when we are 70 and spending the summers in Italy, although that's my dream not his. His dream involves a luxury cruise liner which sounds like a nightmare to me as I suffer from severe motion sickness.

It's frustrating because it seems as though we fight about the same issues every few months and it leaves us feeling like we are failing because nothing is resolved, but it was only recently that I realised those issues we argue over repeatedly aren't necessarily issues that can be resolved.

They just fall under the category of our "stuff" and all relationships have it.

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You can drag it all out and rehash it and reshape it and shuffle it around but it is still there. You feel a bit better for a while and then you need to talk about it again.

No relationship is perfect and after 18 years you've stopped trying to make it perfect. You've stopped trying to change yourselves and each other.

You're older and become more yourself than ever before. You partner can like it or lump it.

Someone once told me that a relationship still has legs if you are invested enough to bother fighting. It's once you fall silent and no longer bother that it's really at risk.

Nobody could ever accuse my husband and I of falling silent and not bothering to fight. We just save it all up and do it all in one hit and while it's not ideal it will do for now.

Who has time to talk about every little thing all the time?

An efficient four-hour rehash of all the things that have upset us over the past few months seems way more efficient to me.