A graduate student meeting with me yesterday asked about my family—admittedly, it's hard to miss the pictures of them when you visit my office. He asked how long Peter and I had been married and when I replied, "forty years," he had a follow-up question. "And how many fights have you had?"
The odd thing is that I had an answer.
"Two", I replied. (Bickering does not count as fighting—if he had asked how many times we've bickered, the answer would have been "thousands.")
I vividly remember one wintery day twenty-some years ago when Peter and I were out running. We were fighting about the children (that time and also in the other major battle we had). I was so angry that I refused to keep running with him, and he went on by himself. I could tell you today the exact place where I stopped, but I can't recall the details of the fight, possibly because he was right. I was miserable the rest of the day, but he seemed to bounce back immediately. (Holding on to anger is a subject for another time.)
My guess is that the graduate student fights a lot with his wife. I know they have had some challenges to work on. I told him that I don't think that the number of fights is a good measure of the success of a marriage. But the question was an interesting one.
And how many fights have you had?