Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Don't fight with your partner around your friends


This article in the New York Times last week was about a very annoying couple who fight on Facebook so that their friends can get involved and "can kind of comment on" their disputes. Thank God, I don't know this couple, and I really have no idea how they still have friends, but way too many times I've had that awkward moment around a couple where they're having a fight, and I'm just trying to find a way to hide in the playroom with their kid. So people, please, don't fight with your partner around your friends.

Look, I'm not talking about friendly bickering about whose turn it is to change the baby's dipaer or about where we should all go out for dinner tonight, I'm talking about those conversations that clearly have that "I'm pissed" edge to them. Where most of the time what you say is pretending to be friendly, but you both have that undercurrent of anger, and then start saying things that I don't really understand, but have a second meaning. And then, of course, there are those actual fights where someone might start yelling, or slamming doors. If you need to do that, and you know, sometimes we all do, for goodness sake do it in private, or at least just with your children around (you'll pay for their therapy). But if your friends are around, we start to feel like we're in the middle of an old episode of Jon and Kate Plus Eight, before Jon became as big of a douche as he is now, and before Kate got new extensions and white teeth and started attempting to dance on national television.

Those kinds of situations are totally awkward and difficult for your friends, I'm telling you this right now. None of us want to get in the middle, and the worst possible scenario is for one of you to turn to me and say "Brownie, you agree with me, right?" Please please, don't ever do that. Because whether I agree with you or not, I am SO not going to volunteer my opinion at that point, and just get one of you even madder, and mad at ME to boot. And honestly, at that point, I've probably just started chanting my mantra in my head so that I can't hear any of the conversation anymore, so I would have no idea what I am agreeing to.

The thing is, if your friends are hanging out with the two of you together, it's often because they are either still getting to know one member of the couple, or it's because they genuinely like you as a couple, and they like being around both of you. In either situation, being in the middle of a couple fight is the worst. For the former, it gives your friends a bad opinion of your new girlfriend or boyfriend, or just a bad opinion of the way that the two of you interact, and that will just make any future outings even more uncomfortable. And for the latter, it's like watching Mom and Dad fight, and no one likes to do that, okay? Yes, maybe it's clear that I'm the child of divorced parents, but reliving those moments of childhood is not a good way to spend a Saturday night out with friends.

And really, we just do not care if you opened that bottle of wine that he'd been saving (unless we get to drink some of it), or if he's going to play golf instead of going on a bike ride with your kid, or if she farted in the middle of the night and woke you up. And really, we just do not want to know! We know that some of this has to do with someone's irritation about your sex life, or who works too much or not enough, or some fight about money that you had, but that is so none of our business.

And I'm not asking you to be fake, or super polite to each other all the time. One of my friends and her husband bicker at a low level all the time, but there's no animosity there, and it's just the way their relationship has always been, so I just find it entertaining and not awkward at all. And seriously, if you're a new parent, all bets are off, because we all know that neither of you have been sleeping and you're both hungry and stressed and overwhelmed on top of the sleep deprivation, so if you need to fight, do it, and I'll just go into the kitchen and make you a pie. But those are special exceptions.

So the next time you are having a dinner party and your wife breaks a glass and you want to make a snarky remark about how maybe she feels like she can break things all of the time but you know how much they cost, and then your wife says that well, since she makes more money than you, she can afford to buy some damn new wineglasses sometimes, please just stop, think about how all of your dinner guests would immediately want to hide under the table, and don't do it.


  1. OMG, this is the WORST. I went to Italy as part of a school thing, and there was a couple there who did this ALL THE TIME. AND it was ALWAYS the girlfriend picking the fight when everyone was around. It got to the point where everyone else would just shout "Privacy Curtain" which helped lighten the mood somewhat. But still! SO AWKWARD.

  2. Lady Nancy Astor and Winston Churchill...