Arguing with your partner

12 June 1664

(Lord’s day). All the morning in my chamber consulting my lesson of ship building, and at noon Mr. Creed by appointment came and dined with us, and sat talking all the afternoon till, about church time, my wife and I began our great dispute about going to Griffin’s child’s christening, where I was to have been godfather, but Sir J. Minnes refusing, he wanted an equal for me and my Lady Batten, and so sought for other.

“Then the question was whether my wife should go, and she having dressed herself on purpose, was very angry, and began to talk openly of my keeping her within doors before Creed, which vexed me to the guts, but I had the discretion to keep myself without passion, and so resolved at last not to go, but to go down by water, which we did by H. Russell —[a waterman]— to the Half-way house, and there eat and drank, and upon a very small occasion had a difference again broke out, where without any the least cause she had the cunning to cry a great while, and talk and blubber, which made me mighty angry in mind, but said nothing to provoke her because Creed was there, but walked home”,

being troubled in my mind also about the knavery and neglect of Captain Fudge and Taylor, who were to have had their ship for Tangier ready by Thursday last, and now the men by a mistake are come on board, and not any master or man or boy of the ship’s company on board with them when we came by her side this afternoon, and also received a letter from Mr. Coventry this day in complaint of it. We came home, and after supper Creed went home, and I to bed. My wife made great means to be friends, coming to my bedside and doing all things to please me, and at last I could not hold out, but seemed pleased, and so parted, and I with much ado to sleep, but was easily wakened by extraordinary great rain, and my mind troubled the more to think what the soldiers would do on board tonight in all this weather.

Bearing in mind Pepys’s personality it would be amazing if he did not have rows with his wife. The above excerpt does bear reading because it shows his wife completely lost it, put on an exhibition of crying, and finally recanted and tried to please Samuel.

From my own observations over the years, arguments almost always arise from inner conflicts. Something the other person has done  is just a trigger. As they are the nearest available object, they get it. I can say that if a person speaks at you and not with you  it’s probably their own unworked out problems.  It might be  that something about the persons deportment, or tone of voice, all manner of interjection,  is a trigger to remind the sufferer of something long forgotten.

Pepys has given a good example here of not losing his temper and letting the course of his wife’s concern run, partly to give her the space and time to deal  with whatever it was that was troubling her.  It could have been for example the feeling of not being valued. Pepys decided to walk home on his own, I wouldn’t say walk away from the situation but to give him self time to recover from the immediate manifestations of the disturbance.

I have been given advice – which I have taken – that we should not try to reason with someone who is drunk. I think the same advice could be given to someone who is angry. We don’t know what is going on in the course of expressing their anger, maybe it is the first time they’ve ever expressed anger and it is necessary for them to lose their temper. Maybe it is the last time they will lose their temper because they were so disgusted at what they did they have resolved never to repeat it. We just never know so why not leave the stage clear and be a silent supporter.

 

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