By Charlotte Latvala
Decades ago, you and your spouse* had heated arguments that went on for hours. Days, even. Your relationship was a spicy stew of emotion; you fought hard and made up passionately.
At 50, it’s harder to get quite so riled up, especially with someone you’ve known since you both dressed like Joan Jett. When you do fight these days, your goal is usually to wrap it up by the time Dancing with the Stars comes on.
But just in case you need a refresher:
- Pick a fight you’ve had 5,000 times before. Money, sex, toilet paper – who cares? Who wants the work of dragging new ideas into your relationship?
- To throw the other person off his game, take notes. Then ask him to how to spell any word longer than two syllables.
- Give your children talking points, and let them debate. It’s less exhausting for you and good practice for them. And who is better equipped to step in than your kids, who’ve grown up on the classic “Who left the back door unlocked in the first place?” the timeless, “I can’t do ten things at once!” and the unforgettable “You FORGOT?”
- Fight silently. By now, you should be able to conduct a complicated, passive-aggressive exchange of ideas through well-timed eye-rolls, defeated shrugs, and long, guilt-inducing sighs.
- See how short you can make it. A truly skillful couple can have a complete fight in about a dozen words, each containing mutually understood references that sound like nonsense to the casual observer. “Cleveland? Ha! What about Clinton?” “The race? You can’t sew!” “Kenny Chesney? You’ve obviously forgotten the Nissan.”
- To show that you’re an evolved, modern couple, agree to conduct your next fight via emoji.
- At any point in the argument, ask “Do you want my opinion?” These five words will make fighting virtually obsolete, because 1) He already knows what your opinion is and 2) Does not want it. (But you still get to make your point.)
* If the word “spouse” offends you, because you are unconventional, refuse to bend to society’s rules, or don’t care about a piece of paper, please feel free to substitute any of the following: Partner, Significant Other, Old Lady, Old Man, Baby Daddy, Sugar Mama, or, while you’re at it, Lover. And please send all your meaningless pieces of paper with Ben Franklin’s face on them to How to be 50.