The first time Matthew and I had a real fight—not a disagreement, but a fight—was a full six months into our relationship. We were cleaning his house to make room for my things for my planned move-in, date TBD.
It had been a long day, and both of us were tired. Not tired–exhausted. Spent. Then, it happened. Matthew handed me a heavy box from a high shelf, and as I set it down, an unmistakable sound: breaking glass.
“What was it?” I asked, already using the past tense.
Matthew didn’t answer. He grabbed the box. When he opened it, we assessed the damage. A rook from his chess set was chipped and a bishop was missing a knob.
That could’ve been worse, I thought.
Matthew saw it differently.
“Where was the bubble wrap?” he asked. “You were the one who packed this, right?”
“I guess . . . I guess I ran out.”
“You ran out? Well, when we run out, we get more. We don’t just pack stuff like this without bubble wrap.”
I didn’t respond.
Matthew closed the box and set it on his desk. Then he returned to the shelf. When I took my spot next to him, though, he shook his head at me.
“You are not allowed touch my stuff anymore,” he said.
“Hey, Matt,” I said, my defensiveness turning to anger. “Wait a second. Think about this. I’ve spent the last two days cleaning this place–packing stuff, donating stuff, cleaning your kitchens and your bathrooms. I did way more than you did, so don’t you dare get an attitude with me about this. It was an accident, okay?”
It was the first time I ever raised my voice to Matthew. And it was certainly the first time I walked away in anger. I left the room, slamming the door, then left the house, slamming that door, too. Then I went for a walk.
Five minutes passed—a very long five minutes. It was the first fight of newly-in-loves, after all. We were still convinced everything was perfect between us . . . and at the same time, afraid it wasn’t.
Soon, I heard footsteps. Someone was running up behind me. I turned around, and there he was.
It was Matthew.
And in the time that it took me to recognize him, and the look of apology on his face, my anger disappeared completely.
I stopped walking, and Matthew caught up to me, then gave me a long, loving hug.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “You’re right. I should’ve helped you more.”
“I’m sorry, too. I should’ve been more careful with your stuff.” The apology wasn’t sincere–not completely, anyway. But it felt like the right thing to say.
We hugged some more, then kissed, then walked back to the house together. And that was it.
It was over.
Apologies are awesome, I realized after talking to Matthew about our biggest-yet fight. They’re, like, the fastest relationship cure ever. They get you out of a bad spiral, help you reset. And sometimes, that’s all you need–just a reset button.
You don’t even have to mean it all the time.
Read the rest of the series at Fights You’ll Have After Having a Baby: A Self-Help Novel.