There are couples at dinner parties, or parties of any kind, that make you spend a lot of time in the loo.
They start snapping or belittling or rolling eyes at each other and you just have to excuse yourself. Again.
It’s even worse when they try to rope you into their tiffs.
“She’s always late isn’t she?” they ask you with that stare.
“When was the last time you heard him say he was wrong. That he might have actually made a mistake? When?”
You don’t want to fight. You don’t want to watch a fight. You’re out to have some fun, chat to interesting people, laugh, find out things you never knew, ponder the universe and maybe even eat a kebab on the way home because you really know how to have a good time.
Sometimes the fights are one-sided and it’s like watching a big pterodactyl tearing to shreds a little Pomeranian puppy.
Sometimes they are both pterodactyls and they don’t take any notice of where their wings are flapping and the whole party gets torn up; plates and glasses get smashed, people are ducking for cover under tables and the two big birds just spend the whole night sticking it to each other.
On the reality cooking and eating program judged by a Paleo man and a Renaissance one My Kitchen Rules last night, there was a couple who had everyone talking. Tim and Dee from NSW were the pterodactyl and the Pomeranian puppy.
Dee yelled and snapped and pushed and abused and had tantrums where she blamed Tim. She even stamped her foot.
“You’re pissing me off,” she said.
“You’ve ruined it! I don’t know what you’ve done.”
“Did you make a mess already?”
“Don’t do that.”
Tim said things like, “I really value her opinion.” He cried because she wasn’t happy and he knew how much the whole show “meant to her”.
Ugh. Tim. That’s not how happy couples talk to each other.
Watch the snippet from last night that has everyone talking. Post continues after video…
Sometimes these public fighting couples (PFCs to those who have been to too many dinner parties) are people you’ve never met before and on the way home with your own partner the conversation goes something like this:
Me: “OMG. Well that was awkward. What was with Jim and um um?”
Husband: “Kate. Her name was Kate.”
(I’m terrible with names).
Me: “That was weird the way he told that long story about the wedding they went to and how she didn’t know when to stop eating and that if she just had some self control she could maybe lose some of that weight she keeps complaining about. And then every time she said something he rolled his eyes.”
Husband: “He was a prick.”
Me: “What do you think that was all about? They were at each other all night. Do you think they just had a bad day or they’re going through something more serious? Is he having affairs? Is she having affairs? Is this what they do, fight in front of other people and go home and have great sex? Are they trying to break up? Do you think they were ever nice to each other or do you think their relationship has always been fight and make-up, fight and make-up?”
Husband: “He was such a prick.”
Sometimes the PFCs are people you know well and the conversation on the way home goes something like this.
Me: “Well, that was awful. Do they even know what they are doing? Why bother being with each other? I’m saying something next time. Do you think I should say something? We were all thinking, enough. Stop. Next time I’m saying something.”
Husband: “I just don’t get it.”
Me: “They didn’t used to fight this much I swear. What are they doing? How do you go home now and get into bed with each other? Touch each other? Do they think talking like that to each other is normal? Has it become normal in their lives? Does it turn them on or something? Am I missing the bigger picture?”
Husband: “I just don’t get it.”
Then he squeezes my hand.
Some people will fight in front of you and then tell you later that’s just how their relationship rolls. From my experience, that kind of relationship is destined to roll right off a cliff.
How you talk to your partner, privately and publicly, forms a critical part of your relationship. You can talk until the cows come home about how much you love someone but if you don’t show that in every day actions you may as well both be sitting in separate cement bunkers, with headphones on, thinking only about yourself. There’s no relationship without, you know, relating.
If you can’t communicate respectfully, how can you respect each other? If you don’t have enough self-awareness to understand that how you are talking to each other is making the people around you uncomfortable, then how can you have enough self-awareness to know what the person “you love the most” needs?
Couples fight. No-one lives on the Goodship Lollypop. But there is a way to fight and a place to fight – and usually it’s the exception rather than the rule. Belittling a partner, snapping constantly at them, rolling your eyes, being verbally aggressive, betraying your partner with stories that make them look foolish or dumb, constantly making jokes at their expense, that’s not a loving relationship, that’s a Cold Nasty War.
And I can only wonder, if someone is willing to act like that toward the person they love – at a party, a dinner, in front of camera – how do they act toward each other when the front door is closed?