I was watching a talk show the other day, and the hosts were discussing a topic that had been written about in a popular national magazine. While listening to the hosts discuss their feelings regarding the issue, I recalled the number of conversations I have had with both men and women about the very same topic. I thought about it and realized that I have never written about it. I wrote about ideas relating to this main issue but never took on the issue head on. Now I will do so. The issue: It’s okay to be annoyed or even angry with the person you are dating (or married to). You don’t have to be “lovey dovey in love” with him (or her) every second of every day. And yes, the relationship can still survive and be wonderful, even if a bit of hostility or animosity is poured into the mix at times.
It takes two people to be in a relationship. It is also the responsibility of these two people to ensure that the relationship has a good foundation and can withstand a disagreement or differences in opinion – a fight, if you will. In the same regard, it is up to those same two people if the relationship crumbles after the first fight because one of the parties in the relationship thinks, “Oh, my G-d, how can I live with this person! He (or she) is so stupid and it’s getting on my nerves!”
It’s a simple fact of life that people won’t always agree about everything all the time – and that’s fine. We all have different life experiences and were raised in different homes. It’s only natural then that two people would not think the exact same way. Even two people living in the same home for years don’t always share the same thoughts and opinions. I remember a conversation I had with a single male about a year ago, and he said he was judging each date that he had with a specific woman on whether or not they agreed on the majority of topics discussed or not. He said, “Most of the dates were good, but then we had two bad dates and it really confused me about her!” When I asked him what his definition of “bad” was, he said, “We argued about stuff.” I tried to get him to discuss if the arguments were normal differences of opinions or differences in hashkafah that they couldn’t agree or compromise on. In a nutshell, he was saying that if disagreements were happening in this early stage of the relationship, maybe he should call it quits now. I asked him if he ever fought or disagreed with his friends. He said that he had. I asked if he was able to accept and even love that friend, even if they didn’t see eye to eye on every subject. It was then that I saw the light bulb go off in his eyes.
Yes, in a perfect world, couples would always agree and laugh together and hold hands, never going to bed angry at each other. But the world isn’t perfect. We are allowed to disagree with our significant other, but it’s the way that we handle ourselves and how they handle themselves during the disagreements. Open communication is essential in order for a relationship to survive. If you keep feelings bottled up inside and keep adding fuel to that fire without venting to your significant other, then the fire will eventually turn into fireworks. It’s better to get things out in the open than to keep them to yourself – but that is a whole different column for a different day.
No one said that you have to speak with each other 24/7.
Let some time pass, and only when you feel ready, start talking again
How many times have I heard, “But we’re different. We have nothing in common.” Yeah? So what? Do you like each other? Do you think you can have a future with this person even with your differences? Differences may not even mean differences of opinion. It may mean difference in cultures (Sefardi and Ashkenazi, or yeshivish and modern, etc.). Refer back to my article where I explained that there is no such thing as love at first sight. Love is something that has to be nurtured and worked at. Yes, there will be times when you won’t want to speak with the person you are dating (or married to) because of a fight or disagreement. No one said that you have to speak with each other 24/7. Let some time pass, and only when you feel ready, start talking again. It’s fine. Do you recall the article that I wrote a while back where I had wanted to date a fellow who had met me at a singles event, and after hearing that I had my own opinions, he didn’t want to date me? He told the shadchan that he is looking for a “yes girl” and I wasn’t that type. This fellow was looking for someone to always agree with him. He wanted the type of wife to whom he can say, “Stay in the corner, honey. Look pretty, but say nothing.” That’s not realistic! I truly hope that fellow did get married, but I also hope that his wife was able to convince him that having an opinion is something that should be valued and not detested.
Hatzlachah to you all!
Goldy Krantz is an LMSW and a lifelong Queens resident, guest lecturer, and author of the shidduch dating book, The Best of My Worst and children’s book Where Has Zaidy Gone? She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.