About a month ago, I was chatting with a dear friend (whose name I will not mention to preserve her privacy as well as her partner's), and she said that her partner was tired of her arguments, and she was afraid that he was pulling away because of those arguments.
I told her about my numerous arguments with Wolfgang during the start of our relationship. Very violent arguments, full of fire and brimstone, full of anger and passion. For him, arguments sour the relationship; every argument takes something away and eventually there would be nothing left. For me, arguments are like a literal storm with pouring rain and strong winds and, when it's over, the air is clear and fresh and sweet-smelling.
My relationship with Wolfgang has been the hardest and the most painful of all my SL relationships. With all those arguments, it was highly improbable for it to have lasted this long.
But surprisingly, he kept coming back. Even as angry as he was. And so have I.
A long time ago, in the middle of a difficult argument where we were just going around in circles, I called for a timeout for two weeks. He reluctantly agreed. I was ready to leave. But after a week, I decided to go back. When I returned, he was a very different man. He was less serious, he was actually happy, almost giddy. I remember thinking it was the first time I saw him say "lol". I didn't think much of it; I just thought one of his other lovers made him happy that day, and that I luckily caught him in a good mood. I refused to think that his happiness that day had anything to do with me. Maybe I was wrong.
After our last argument, he said that he was ready to walk away. He was taunting me to get me over the edge and push him hard enough. I didn't take the bait; I called for a timeout for three days. If he really wanted to leave, he would have just left. Instead, he left it up to me. In an email a couple of days later, he said that, if I was taking that long, I had already decided to leave. That's when I realized that being away from me hurts him as much as it hurts me to be away from him.
The relationship is a lot of work. There's still a lot of pulling and pushing. Not as many arguments anymore, but many discussions. But he actively participates in analyzing our relationship, just as we analyze our roleplays.
We now have one "rule of engagement" that we abide by when we argue. We agreed that we would always keep in mind that we each have good intentions and good will toward each other. And if anything sounded the opposite of that, we would clarify, because it's likely the wrong interpretation.
There are still no reassurances. No promises. He could walk away any day. And so could I. We could have an argument that could violently tear us apart. And we are both aware of that. Because we both know about the transience of SL. Because we've both been here a long while.
He took the time to argue with me, and that's one of the best gifts a man could give a woman. He fights for me, so I fight for him, and we fight for us. What are the odds I would give up on a man who allows me the storms I need to clear the air, even if he doesn't like them?
Spot once said, "People in relationships are fighting to *keep* the relationship... it's so much easier to walk away."
I recently read an article that said, couples who argued a lot in the beginning tended to stay together for a significantly longer time. According to the article, that's because they have worked out their differences in the beginning, so they know what to expect and how to deal with those differences. On the other hand, couples who avoid arguments for the sake of peace tend to sweep problems under the rug, and the resentment slowly poisons their relationship until they finally give up.
Yesterday, life unfolded just like that.