Mr. FAF and I have been married for almost four years. Although he has helped create some of the best memories of my life, things are not always smooth sailing for us.
We argue every once in a while. Sometimes the arguments are small and easy to resolve.
Sometimes it’s emotionally draining for us to get our points across and to reach an agreement.
It could take us a day or even a week to resolve a disagreement. We’re not the type of couple who doesn’t go to bed angry. In other words, we do go to bed angry and then can’t fall asleep.
It also doesn’t help that we have a long-distance marriage. A small misunderstanding can grow out of proportion and lead to a heated argument.
Here on my personal finance blog, I often talk about frugality and money saving tips. Savings are measured in currency.
However, marital conflict can cost us an amount we don’t see or can’t measure accurately.
Whenever we have a fight that doesn’t get completely resolved before we go to bed, both of us will have a sleepless night. In fact, it’s worse for Mr. FAF than for me. He once confessed to me he didn’t sleep until 3-4 AM, and that it went on for days until we started talking again.
Sometimes I’d wake up in the middle of the night, thinking about what angry words we said to each other and can’t fall back to sleep. I’m also tempted to keep checking the phone to see if Mr. FAF has sent me a new message. And that keeps me up at night.
2. Loss of productivity
Needless to say, the poor quality of sleep at night leads to lost productivity during the day. Mr. FAF often has a hard time focusing on his work when we’re in a cold war or just had a fight.
I’d also be tired and distracted from my work since I’d be checking Gchat and my phone to see if Mr. FAF messaged me. If I have something in mind to talk to Mr. FAF about (i.e. more arguing, trying to reconcile our differences), I’d keep calling him, thus interrupting his work and mine.
3. Work backlog
Due to low productivity, we, especially Mr. FAF, are left with a backlog of things that need to get done but have been pushed aside by anger, frustration, and disappointment.
I often have a hard time forgiving myself for not getting things done ahead of or on time, so it exacerbates my emotions during the fight with Mr. FAF. I blame myself and him for causing the delay.
4. Lack of interaction with others
When I’m upset about something, it’s really hard for me to hide my emotions. I don’t make a scene at work (i.e. crying, yelling on the phone). But instead of smiling at my colleagues or making small talk with them, I’d just smile with a sad face and try to withdraw myself to my desk as quickly as I can. Instead of asking questions or contributing to the discussion, I’d just say what’s necessary.
5. Lack of life enjoyment
When I’m happy, even drinking water or breathing air alone makes me feel great about life. When Mr. FAF and I have a fight, however, I don’t feel like I’m enjoying anything.
The entertaining Youtube videos suddenly become so tedious. The delicious parfait yogurt suddenly tastes so bland. The Facebook surfing that makes me giggle at silly pictures suddenly becomes so boring.
Even if I spend $500 on new clothes or $100 on a restaurant meal, I wouldn’t feel happy since deep down I’m upset about something else. No amount of money, no vacation, and no retirement account can cheer me up when I’m in a fight with Mr. FAF.
If a day at work is worth $500, I’d say I waste $100 of that on my lack of productivity. If the argument goes on for a week, that’d be $500/week.
That’s not to mention the cost of sleepless nights, the lack of interaction with others, and the reduced life quality. What currency do you use to measure the state of your emotional and physical health? I don’t know exactly how much it is, but I know it’s more than what I’d like to spend on a fight.
The best solution for us is not to fight about anything. But I don’t even know if it’s feasible. We’re humans. We have our priorities and preferences which are sometimes not perfectly aligned.
Mr. FAF and I are still working towards reconciling our differences and learning how to compromise. We might or might not have made a lot of progress. But I know unless we work out the best way to resolve our conflict, one day we will no longer be able to afford the costs of these arguments.