The Birthday Party Spat (An Honest Peek Into Our Marriage)

Photo by Nikhita Singhal on Unsplash

An hour after publishing my words on sharing more about our marriages yesterday, my husband and I had a spat in the kitchen, right in front of our kids, while watching our 6-year-old open his birthday presents.

When the unwrapping began, my husband immediately pulled out his phone and started filming the whole experience.

Oh my gosh! Is he seriously doing this again? I hate it when he does this!  

We have fought about this exact thing before (on Christmas morning). He likes capturing these special moments with our kids while they are happening (and for some reason opening gifts is a big trigger for him to pull out the phone). Meanwhile, being present for me looks like no distractions or phones, preferably standing next to my husband so we can whisper back and forth to each other about how cute our kids are, and I don’t want to worry I’m going to stuff up the filming process.

So, when he pulled out his phone last night, I rolled my eyes, No way, is he going to ruin this moment with his stupid phone, and then in an agitated tone I said, “Sweetie, put the phone down.”

He proceeded to tell me to be quiet by his strong hand gestures and the glare.

In response, I expressed my obvious frustration more loudly to be sure I ruined his entire video. He stopped recording immediately, clearly angered, “Now that is controlling! Let me do what I want to do. Let me be myself,” he pressed.

The rest of the evening was ruined.


For the next two hours, I didn’t want to look at him or speak to him or even be in the same room as him. Keep in mind this is all happening when we are supposed to be smiling and cooing over our 6-year-old boy child.

We also had plans to sit together while the kids took a hot tub that evening to discuss logistics for our brief, but important weekend trip coming up in a few days. All that went out the window.

Heavy darkness descended upon us (yes, that’s a bit dramatic, but it does feel much like that to me).

I spiraled into my usual thoughts- is our marriage too brittle and broken, will we stay together, should I leave, oh wait, I don’t have anywhere to go.

Then I contemplated my control issues- do I have them, probably, doesn’t he have them too though? How in the hell are two evolving humans supposed to live in such close quarters while also allowing each other to be completely themselves? Who invented marriage anyways?!

My husband took the kids upstairs for a few episodes of Shaun the Sheep. I did my bedtime routine, folded a pile of laundry, kissed my kids on the head, and snuggled under my covers with a book, hoping 7 hours of sleep and silent treatment would be enough to mend our blow-up.

As it normally is with us, it works.

We regularly go to bed with some rift between us, but can still have long and rousing conversations in the morning, he with his signature latte, me with turmeric ginger tea. In as little as 20 minutes, we can talk about current events, politics, religion, books we’re reading, and podcasts we’re listening to.

And that’s what transpired this morning.

I briefly made mention of our spat from last night and how today we needed to definitely plan for our weekend away.

And for the most part, I feel like we’re back on the same page this morning, albeit always a bit wounded and soft after squabbles like these. Maybe we should have talked about it, maybe not? It varies for us, we don’t have a formula for how we work out arguments.

We both know this rocky terrain well; it’s commonplace in our marriage. We carry on and that itself is a form of healing and acceptance of the constant grief within marriage. Fights also set us back physically as well, I often don’t want hugs or kisses and need my space for at least a day.

Do we have work to do? Obviously.

Make of this what you want, it is our marriage. It is dynamic and nuanced like all relationships are. There is a back story and history I have not included here, but I also think it’s time we open up our most intimate relationships to one another, normalize talking about our quarrels and recurring hang-ups, and those embarrassing, always inconvenient spats.

Marriage is a tender and loaded space isn’t it? The tension is enough to make music and drive us mad, to keep us together and steer us apart.

But remember, you are not alone, you are not going insane, you aren’t messed up to the core, you are human and you are married. This is hard and there are no right answers. 

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