I’m pretty sure they’ll last. In fact, I’m confident. Not just because I’m in love with the child they’ve created – the most soft-tempered, long-lashed cutie – but because their love is so palpable! In their words, their actions, even in their silences. When I say “palpable,” I don’t mean the tips of my ears blush red when I see them locking tongues in public. In fact, I don’t even think they’re fans of public affection, the lovey-dovey kind anyway. Their love, its strongest essence, is actually in the ways they express borderline hate for each other. Seriously! She spews a jab and gets his middle finger to her face. He voices a smart-allecky quib and gets an icy glare in return. She swears at him and he doubles the dose. It’s a back and forth that compels the average onlooker to take cover but for me, oh special me, I soak it in and encourage the “fight” because I know this is true love in one of its unconventional, less flattering manifestations. Sigh…
I don’t mean to say that couples who constantly fight have it made. But those couples that truly love each other, the fights matter as much as the googly eye looks and floral bouquets. I’m talking about those (rare?) couples who bring a different dynamic to love through their temper. Most of us can distinguish those arguments that are meant to permanently maim (the ones that end in break-ups) and those that are meant to uplift the other, even if put-downs and f-bombs are exchanged in the crossfire. If you see these “loving fights” and resist the urge to run, you can uncover the silver lining in the childish insults. You come to see a love that is not only deep but one that has a sense of humor aka entertainment potential (a big plus in my book!).
It’s all very resonant of that scene from “The Notebook.” Oh yes, to all you chick flick connoisseurs! Remember the scene where grown-up Allie leaves Noah (again!) when she found out her fiance was in town? Thanks to Wikiquote, I have the dialogue verbatim. Noah chases Ally out to the car after a series of heated words demanding, “Will you just stay with me?” In her frustration, Ally bites back, “Stay with you? What for? Look at us, we’re already fighting!” And Noah being Noah (and the greatest man-candy of all time) says exactly what needs to be said, “Well, that’s what we do! We fight! You tell me when I’m being an arrogant son of a bitch and I tell you when you’re being a pain in the ass, which you are – 99% of the time! I’m not afraid to hurt your feelings. They have, like, a two second rebound rate, then you’re back doing the next pain-in-the-ass thing.” Ally is struck nearly speechless with her weak, “So what?” Noah knows exactly what that “what” is: “It’s not gonna be easy. It’s gonna be really hard, and we’re gonna have to work at this every day. But I wanna do that because I want you. I want all of you, forever, you and me, every day.” My hearts in a puddle on the ground at this point. I’m about to take Noah myself if Allie doesn’t want him but that’s besides the point.
This is what it’s like with my two good friends. There’s definitely heat, even menacing heat, but that strain is oftentimes tempered by a deep love for the other. There is an ironic, even ridiculous, impatience when it comes to love. You expect the best from your significant other, even knowing how imperfect they are. When they underperform, s/he is the first to hear about it, uncut and uncensored. Screaming ensues, insults bounce back and forth. There might even be a tear or two. Then there’s the calm. Through all that turmoil, vows are renewed in silence, in a way that is far more intimate than if voiced aloud: “I know you well enough that when you’re an idiot, I’ll tell you. I care about you enough that if you do something to belittle me, you, us, I’ll put it to straights even if it requires bringing you down a peg or two. I love you enough that even the most heated of all fights, even with you at a record-high stupid, that won’t erase the love. I just love you…so put up with me as I put up with you.”
Sigh. This article is dedicated to all the couples out there who invest as much energy into arguing as they do in loving. If their fights make spectators jump for cover, what must their love make us wanna do? Oh my!
Yours truly, BBC.